AS an adopted Northumbrian I have long been a devotee of all the good things the North-East has to offer.

And close to the top of the list is the trusty Barbour jacket, the waxed wonder that has seen me through many chilly days standing in raging rivers plying a fishing rod, in draughty press boxes watching rugby matches and on bracing strolls up lots of airy mountains and even more rushing glens.

There’s something rather special about a waxed jacket, which keeps the warmth in and the rain out. The people who make then are geniuses of the highest order, for the garment has more pockets than a thousand billiard halls.

There are pockets of all shapes and sizes, all furnished with little gold zips, and they never seem to jam. I have had my present Barbour for well over 20 years, and still keep discovering unexpected secret compartments within the lining, tucked inside a sleeve or even inside another pocket.

Occasionally I will rediscover a pocket I had forgotten about, and a little bead of blood will jog my memory as to where I put that coch-y-bondhu fishing fly I set aside for safe keeping in 1996.

My first waxed jacket wasn’t a Barbour at all, but one I picked up at a market stall for a few quid, but it did admirable service until Mrs Hextol decided it was looking rather disreputable after an unfortunate brush with a leaking oil can.

She put it in the washing machine on a hot wash and it came out lily white, with all the wax vanishing down the plughole.

I was aghast, but she produced a tin of wax, and a soft cloth, and within a couple of hours, it was restored to better than new.

It was a lovely coat, but one day I wore it to a disastrous Tynedale Rugby Club match, when the first XV had a real off day, and were soundly thrashed by opponents they would normally have beaten out of sight.

That night, someone broke into my car and stole my jacket, with my notes about the game still in one of the many pockets. Now far be it from me to suggest it was anything to do with the rugby club trying to prevent details of their defeat making the pages of the Courant, but the jacket was the only thing taken…

The thieves did considerable damage breaking into the car boot, and the insurance company was most understanding about the jacket, insisting that I replaced it with a superior model from the Barbour range. I was only too happy to comply, and the replacement coat has done me sterling service for more years than I care to remember.

But I have to admit that it is now perhaps a little past the shabby chic stage, and veering more than little towards the just plain shabby.

So when I was browsing Facebook, and came across an advert purportedly from Barbour offering £200 coats for £36, desire for a bargain for once overcame prudence and common sense.

Even the normally cautious Mrs Hextol agreed it looked a genuine advert, but she advised me to use my credit card rather than my bank card in making the purchase.

“You’re covered if you use your the credit card,” she advised.

I found the coat I wanted, in the right size, but no sooner had I pinged off my order on the computer than the phone rang. At first we thought it was yet another call from our internet service provider advising that our account was about to be closed, a lady saying we could have a new gas boiler, or a persistent man who was under the impression I had thick wads of cash to invest in the art market.

However, it turned out to be the fraud team from my credit card company inquiring whether I had recently used my card to make two purchases to the value of £150 from two different shops in Beijing!

When I said no, they explained that Facebook always provided rich pickings for crooks from the shores of Far Cathay preying on the gullible and I was suitably abashed. My card was cancelled straight away, as was Mrs Hextol’s

The man from the credit card company would not say how they managed to pick up the fraud almost before it had happened, but he did say not to expect delivery of a new Barbour jacket any time soon!