Coquet Valley in verse and song

James Tait on the front cover of Coquet Ramblings, his book of Northumbrian dialect poetry.
James Tait on the front cover of Coquet Ramblings, his book of Northumbrian dialect poetry.

A Rothbury man has recently released a song to mark this year’s 150th anniversary of Alwinton Show.

And in a what has been a very busy time for James Tait, he has also published a book of his dialect poetry as well as launching a new website, promoting the different strings to his bow.

In the spring, James was approached by Janice Henderson, of the Alwinton show committee, and asked if he would be willing to write a song or poem to mark the occasion.

The result is Let’s Gan to the Alwinton Show, which has already been watched hundreds of times on YouTube –
He made a CD single from this song which is available to buy in Barrowburn Tea Room. The other song on the CD – which is a double A-side – is entitled Dave the Driver.

This comedy song, again sung in dialect, is about one of the delivery drivers for Robson and Cowan’s country superstore, where the single is also for sale.

It too can be watched on YouTube, where it has racked up almost 900 views –
“Music is my first love because I’m a pianist,” said James, who released his debut album of original music – The Long Journey Home – earlier this year.

Indeed, his main job is giving music lessons, while he also makes money as a wedding pianist.

However, since 2012, he has been writing poetry and using them to teach youngsters the Northumbrian dialect in a bid to keep it alive.

In 2013, he was interviewed for BBC Countryfile by Julia Bradbury and his poem, How Nature Wins, was used in the opening sequence of that programme.

This poem, as well as the lyrics to Let’s Gan to the Alwinton Show, appear in his new book of poetry, Coquet Ramblings.

James said: “I’m very creative, but you have to pay the bills. Teaching is my bread and butter, but it’s nice to do this as well.”

His poems are inspired by two main sources, much like his music – his hometown of Rothbury, plus the scenery and nature which surround it, and Barrowburn, where his roots are.

James’ father Ian is the last of a 164-year-old lineage of hill-farmers at Barrowburn.

The very popular tea room there was set up by his mam, Eunice, in 2008, but due to the Taits leaving the farm this year, it will be closing at the end of this month.

The first section of the book features poems on Barrowburn and the Upper Coquet Valley, the second on nature and the third on funny poems – many in north Northumberland will sympathise with Potholes!

Some of his verses will also be familiar to Gazette reader as James is a regular contributor to our Poets’ Corner.

Coquet Ramblings is the latest publication to appear on Alnwick man Ian Hall’s Wanney Books imprint.

And the relationship between Ian and James, who met at the Morpeth Gathering, where James often gets involved in the dialect poetry competitions, led to Ian helping to set up James’ new website, – – which is a one-stop shop for James’ CD, poetry and wedding music.

Details of James’ book and music

The poetry book costs £7, including UK postage, and is available from his website using Paypal. The book is also for sale at Phillips’ newsagents in Rothbury.

The Long Journey Home costs £10, including UK postage, and is also available from his website. Let’s Gan to the Alwinton Show is for sale at Barrowburn Tea Room and Robson and Cowan’s, in Scots Gap.