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



As a child I could never quite master the word dahlia, I always called them bdahlias, b’s and d’s were never a friend of mine.

Bdahlia -1

My Dad grew lots of dahlias his favourites were  spiky deep crimson varieties, they always remind me of him (and earwigs!). He used to insist each autumn on drying the tubers that he’d lifted from the flower bed (to protect them from frost)  in the airing cupboard. My Mum was never impressed by this intrusion to her line dried laundry!  I snapped these  dahlias in the garden at Chatsworth House on Saturday, I nipped over just in time to capture the penultimate day of the Barry Flanagan sculpture exhibition. More photos to follow.


Summers Past

And the making of memories.

Forgiving me for returning to the beach and family holidays. But a couple of   posts I’ve read this week have catapulted me back to Devon.  First there was Nancy’s post reflecting on just how many summers her family had enjoyed their favourite beach  just like the Uphilldowndale family’s love of a certain Devon beach,

Summers Past -1

then there was Sarah’s post that made me smile and recall our coastal meeting with a grasshopper.  So I nipped back to the post I’d written at the time, back in 2009, about our encounter with the artist David Measures, about his glorious art and his generosity with both his time and knowledge: sadly, when I followed the links, I discovered that David died last year.  Looking at the website of Southwell Artists I saw that Christine Measures, David’s wife, is also an artist.

When I met David he told me he was working on a book that would capture, not just the markings of a butterfly, for identification but how it moved, its mannerisms, what a bird watcher might call it’s jizz.  The slide show of Christine’s art captures both David and Devon summer holidays perfectly. Beautiful.



Seaside Rock

How quickly our seaside holiday is becoming a distant memory. How quickly the real world piles in to the vacated mind.

How heavy it has rained today! Just as well I have some holiday snaps to look back at.

On the coast path there were some fine lumps of rock (you know I’m fond of them) ancient gate posts, long since disused girded with hand forged iron.

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The remnants of old walls

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The bizarre weather we’ve had in UK this summer seems at least to have pleased the costal flowers, or just made them flower later than usual. I can’t ever recall  ever seeing quite so many as this year.

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The insect world seemed appreciative

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Just delightful really, *sigh*

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Here, There and Not Quite Everywhere; Yet

We’ve been bouncing around the country like a pinball this week, the trusty family estate car (station wagon) clawing through the miles*, since the wedding in Oxford last weekend, destinations have included, Aberystwyth which is as difficult to get to as it is to spell, London, Manchester, Bakewell, Matlock and Bangor. And it’s not over yet, Stirling and two trips to Manchester have still to be chalked up this week.  Whilst we’ve had some rainy trips, we’ve managed to avoid the worst of the flooding that has blighted great swathes of the country, it is all to do with the Jet Stream apparently

At dusk tonight Spud  the dog and I went out for a spot of bat watching, no hope of capturing them on camera I’m afraid  they are too swift and agile for me to manage anything other than admiring them.

Another summer evening pleasure to my mind is the scent of the garden, however this year, to my nose the honeysuckle’s perfume seems rather diluted by the lack of good weather,


but closer inspection of an image taken with flash shows that as far as insects are concerned the honeysuckle is as attractive as ever.

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*We tried to travel by train, but the cost of fares and scheduling of trains put the mockers on that plan.


Baa Baa Bracken

Baa baa bracken

Have you any wool?

Yes Sir, yes Sir three fronds full…

Sorry about that, and apologies to the rhyme,  but  these unfurling bracken fronds had a distinctly woolly look about them and I was struggling for a title, I’d started out with ‘fleecy ferns’ and then realised it was bracken I looking at..

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The immature fronds are called fiddle heads, I can see why, it’s claimed they are edible, I imagine they are a bit chewy.

Bracken 1-1

It is Derbyshire Open Arts 2012 this weekend, I may have to brave the bank holiday traffic.


Quietly Content.

Home the place to be, I’ve got a fire lit, music, even a scented candle for goodness sake* and the for the first time in what seems like a long while, the chance to play about with all things creative. I’m quietly content.

The day got off on the right foot with a sunny start, Spud and I went down  the field to the copse, I wanted to check everything was OK where we buried Dacy the cat. The remaining berries on the Buckthorn caught my eye.

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I  planted Buckthorn in the place where we’ve chosen bury our pets, for very sentimental reasons.

As a child my Dad always used to dose the dogs, we had Border terriers, with syrup of buckthorn if they were unwell. I’m not sure it was the right thing,  it was probably a very antiquated idea even in the 1960’s; from 1891 the Lewis Lloyd collection

"Occasional Physic for dogs

1 oz Jalap
1 pint of syrup of buckthorn

Dose for a full sized dog.
A large tablespoon twice a week, in hot weather more especially.

Jalap "consists of the dried tubercules of Ipomoea Purga, Hayne (N.O. Convolvulaceae), a climbing plant indigenous to the eastern slopes of the Mexican Andes." (The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911). It was used (in humans) as a purgative, as was Buckthorn syrup (The Physiomedical Dispensatory, William Cook, MD, 1869).

But there worse things to give a dog, see the prescription for distemper

For distemper
outward application

½ oz White Hellebore
½ oz Black Brimstone
1 Pint of old milk (1 quart for a very small dog), mix together and sponge the dog well all over (particularly the chest and underneath parts). Shut the dog up in a warm place, it makes him very sick and purged for some hours – when recovered sufficiently feed for the first 24 hours on slops and no meat, afterwards keep him well. Tho’ the hellebore is poison, dog need not be muzzled. The above is a capital dressing for Sporting dogs once a month during the summer and hot weather."

I think it would take more than a scented candle to mask the smell of a dog drenched in sour milk

*The candle is very nice, so much so, that Mr Uphdd, who is not a fan of such things does not protest, it’s by Neom,  and if you wanted to buy buckthorn hedging  plants, I’d recommend the very nice people at Weasdale nurseries  their fine plants have featured here before


Beating the Invader

Back in January I showed you a shimmery image taken at dusk, of  the  burning rhododendrons that were  being cleared from the moor.

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We went to take a closer look, in the clear light of Spring the scale of the job,of ridding the moor of this invasive species was bigger than I imagined from afar

clearing the moor-1

The job is not over yet (well I hope it isn’t it is a bit of a mess up there) and even where they had  supposedly been cleared tenacious rhododendrons are clinging to life amongst the debris.

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Last year the foreground in this shoot would have been filled with rhododendrons

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It is when you see them in isolation, as here, they look so alien,

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like it has been beamed in from another land (if not world) you can just tell as a species they are ‘not local’ I’ve a busy day tomorrow, where I can expect the unexpected; however Spud the dog will be back in action on Sunday, that is a promise.


Study Skills

I don’t know about Tom*, but I’m sick to death of having my head stuck in a text book. So this morning, Mr Uphilldowndale, Spud and I went for a walk, it was just what the Doctor ordered, very refreshing, breathing new life into the blog muse**who to tell the truth, was feeling a little suffocated. So now I’ve plenty of spring shots in the bag, to slow release whilst I finish my work.

A handsome tree, dressed in  fizzy fresh foliage, straight out of the box.

Fresh out of the box tree-1 

And as we’ve not had a drystone wall of late, a sinuous and recently rebuilt  wall  braided by bluebells.

Blue Ribbon-1

As you can see, there has been a cut of silage, but due to the lack of rain this spring, it all looks a bit light weight.

* Tom had an English exam this week, he was asked to describe a country landscape in Summer and Winter, look at the header of this blog and you’ve got the scene; after the exam he had a text from  our friend Miss M down in London, she’d used the same landscape for the same exam.

** It was the blogs fourth birthday this week, shows how busy I’ve been I missed the party by three days *sigh*.


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