Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog December 8th 2013

Just in case you are wondering, we are still here: buffeted and battered by high winds and a world full of ‘stuff’. We’ve been doing many things, but little blog writing.

 

Spud the dog has been supervising the delivery of photovoltaic panels for the barn roof.

He’d have been on this truck given half a chance.

spud and PV

Hats off to the truck driver who managed to get his tuck down and, more challengingly,  back up the lane, he  was patience and professionalism, personified.

spud and PV 2

 

It’s been  Dodger the kitten-cat who has been having the adventures. He jumped up, on to my desk and singed his fur on a lit candle! There was a flash of flame, a puff of smoke and an awful smell*…

He didn’t seem to realise what was happening, I had to scoop him up, he was stood astride it!

Please note singed fur…

Dodger

He’s also had a sore eye and chunk taken out of his ear, there seems to be a territorial battle going on in the neighbourhood: it’s not easy being a kitten-cat.

 

* Yes I know the joke;

Q. ‘How do you make a cat go woof?’

A. ‘ You set him on fire’.


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Groundworks

Tomorrow men and machine arrive to start the groundworks for the ground source heat pump. You might remember we had some serious digging going on in the field last year, after that job was completed we wanted to sow some seed, to heal the scars, we didn’t want to just use pure grass seed so we purchased some general purpose meadow mix from The Conservation Volunteers website

 

A little seemed to go a long way, which is a relief as it is not a cheap option. I’m just loving the flowers that have flourished,

meadow daisy

 

The seed contains fifteen native wild flowers and six species of grass.

clover

I wondered if in a way, we were tinkering with the balance of plants we already had in our meadow, which is, I think we established is a wild meadow.

 

oxeye daisy_

But one of the flowers that has flowered is yarrow, and I remembered that years ago it used to flower in the field, but somewhere along the line, it has disappeared unnoticed, possibly subsumed by more bullish plants? So welcome back yarrow.

yarrow

 

Edit, for Rupert, to show Spud is alive and well.

IMG_6859


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I’ve Never Seen

A seahorse, I used to think they only lived in  warm, tropical seas, but apparently they live here, amongst the seagrass  beds in Salcombe harbour (when the tide is in, obviously, when the seagrass would be all floaty and a nice place to hang out if you were a seahorse.)

Seagrass beds 3

The other thing I couldn’t manage to capture on camera, were water spurts, from razor fish, shooting up in front of me, from the sand, some twelve inches or so high. They  hide in the sand at low tide, all that was to be seen was the hole in the sand. Not very exciting is it…

Seagrass beds_

I tried to find a video of such a thing, but I couldn’t see that either. I did manage to find a little more about them though.

However some folk have for more success at capturing natures more elusive moments. Watch and enjoy.

 

Oh and here is another animal that has been elusive, Spud the dog, enjoying the sea, wearing his smart harness, purchased to replace the one trashed in the sledging foray.  It’s an all together beefier little number than the previous one; Spud thinks it makes him look like a proper working dog, even on holiday

Sea Spud


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Meadow Hay

It seems hard to believe that it was only Wednesday morning that Mr Uphillldowndale and I took a turn around the field wearing Wellington boots, the meadow grass was flattened to the ground,

Wet grass 2

 

by the weight of rain that had fallen over night. 

Wet grass

 

Jammy the kitten cat got wet feet,  he was unimpressed and protested loudly, and completed the rest of the walk along the wall.

 

Jammy wet feet

 

Spud, well, he was just  Spud,

 

wet springer spaniel_

 

By late afternoon the sun had come out, our neighbouring farmer had come along and mown the grass, he obviously knew what the forecast had in store. Because since then it has been wall to wall warmth and long sunny days, by this afternoon, the grass had been rowed up and bailed, job done.

 

In a previous post I mentioned not really knowing what made a ‘traditional meadow’, then by chance I heard Jim Dixon, The Peak District National Park Chief Executive  (his blog is here) being interviewed on BBC radio Derby, on the very subject.  The roll call of species should include buttercups, yellow rattle and pink clover we have lots of those!

 

Natural Meadow Derbyshire_

 

So the surrounding fields are now empty, Spud the dog will be able to find his ball.

 

Spud hay field_

 

Since the fields have been mown there has been a forlorn curlew banking around the fields and across the valley, calling  plaintively. I suspect it might have lost it’s nest to the mower;

 

Curlew_

 

I’m surprised, I didn’t know it was there, I hadn’t seen any curlews around on a regular basis since spring.   Most curlews around here are up on the higher, rough pastures, where there are nests and young will not be disturbed by the pressures of making hay while the sun shine and  the timeline that dictates  commercial farming. Sad.  It wouldn’t have been done intentionally of that I’m sure.  As Jim Dixon mentioned in his interview,  in trying to preserve traditional meadows we are asking farmers to be ‘farmers, factories and museums’. It’s not easy.


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Land of Snow and Ice

A selvedge of snow still remains, banked up against the drystone walls, it lies in dips and gullies (or ‘gips’ as I used to call them as a child, no point wasting words when you can blend).

April snow -1

There are lanes  that are still full to the brim, some with cars still entombed! Our lane was cleared  of snow this afternoon, by man in a JCB digger.

Tom has returned home from a geography study trip to Iceland*, it has been warmer there all the time he’s been away than it has here. How silly is that.  On his return he said how ‘green’ everything looks at home, but this is only in comparison to Iceland, not ‘as it should be’, at this time of year, in this part of of the world. It is dire for livestock.

Here are Joe and Spud on our walk on Sunday

Spud Joe and Trees-1

Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to show me some mine workings that have ‘opened up’ recently: as a child I used to play no more than a stones throw from here.

mine shaft -1

My Mum has said for over fifty years that she is convinced the loud crash she and a friend heard one summers evening could only have been to do with the old  mine workings, of which there are many around and about, both coal and lead.  It’s not really what you want at the bottom of the garden.

Making them safe is the remit of The Coal Authority.

mine shaft 2-1

* I’ve been envious of Tom, I went to Iceland in the early 1980’s with my friend Bob’s-mum; it seemed a bit off beat for a holiday destination back then. I loved it, however unlike Tom, I didn’t get to swim in The Blue Lagoon, or see the Aurora Borealis… sigh.


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Iced Plum Jam

The deep freeze continues. But there are buds of hope. Jammy the kitten-cat would like to show you, look he’s pointing.

Jammy and buds-1

Tiny blossoms are lying in wait.

wild plum -1

Here is the same tree on the 28th March 2011  it looks a little different, frosted granted, but not marooned in snow and ice. I think it’s wild plum, look I’ve even found a recipe for a recipe for wild plum blossom ice cream, written by Blanche Vaughn (I really couldn’t line up any more snowy, white  icy themes if I tried).

The snow isn’t going anywhere fast, here is the lane to our house.

snow filled lane 2-1

Here is Jammy tip-toeing through the snow.

Snow kit-1

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