Uphilldowndale

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


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Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; a different view

 

 

After yesterdays post, a little background information, on both the installation and the Tower of London.

 

The poppies were planted by  teams of volunteers,

 Poppies Tower of London Vols 2

It must have been an operation planned with military precision.

Poppies Tower of London setting out

It would have been an overwhelming task without a master plan.

Poppies Tower of London setting out 3

(and surely packing them all up again is going to be harder?

Poppies Tower of London box

Although that warm fuzzy glow, of feeling part of something special, is the thing that keeps volunteers coming back for more

Poppies Tower of London setting out 2

My favourite shot form our day (29th August) is poppies with shadows. War casts very long shadows.

Poppies Tower of London shadow

There was something about the mottling  effect of the shadows that reminded me of the solar eclipse in the UK, in 1998, another event I found more emotional than I anticipated.

It was quite early in the installations development when we visited, whilst I’d read about it in the press, there wasn’t the wall to wall coverage there has been in the media this week. So a gripe for us at the time was that there weren’t enough information boards

Poppies Tower of London mechanics 2

Some might call it a theatrical event rather than artistic installation, the weeping window has caught the public imagination.

Poppies Tower of London weeping window

However I did think a bit of ‘set dressing’ might have been in order, when I sold flowers for a living, including poppies, we never let the viewer see the mechanics of our arrangements. I thought the scaffolding pole, lump of timber and blob of foam holding the cascade in place could have benefited from being hidden by a couple of yards of fabric and some cable ties.

Poppies Tower of London mechanics

But working in a place as ancient, historic and protected as this, must come with scores of problems. You can’t go around damaging or changing the fabric of such a place, well not these days, you could in the past.

Poppies Tower of London walls_

We found it both moving and reverential,  but there were, if you looked very closely, little witticisms to be found. What I thought was a can of Coke on a window ledge, turned out to be (when seen with the aid of a long lens) a Beefeater cookie jar, placed just for fun.

Poppies Tower of London little beefeater

Beefeater or Yeoman Warders as they are more properly known, do have something of a sense of fun, see below (and be careful if you are drinking tea whilst watching, you’ll splutter it all over the keyboard).

 

 


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Remembering So Many Losses

WWI

From the family photo album, the boy was their son, he died in 1917 in  an accident when a hay cart ran away. 

 

In the summer we visited the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London, for overseas readers, it is 888,246 ceramic poppies, each poppy representing a British fatality during the First World War. Designed by Tom Piper and  Derbyshire artist, Paul Cummins, it is an art work that has provoked debate. Which is no bad thing.

tower of London_

Visiting with friends we found it very moving. Our ‘haven’t seen you for ages’ chatter stopped and we all fell quiet.

One life one poppy, hard to comprehend, but we must.

Poppies Tower of London

 

The concept of poppies, being symbolic of the loss of life in the First World War or any other conflict, has deep meaning for me.

As a child we had very elderly neighbours, who lived in a large rambling house at the corner of the lane, my mum used to go each morning and ‘light the fires’ and make them a hot drink  for them. I can remember going with mum on winter mornings, probably in the Christmas holidays, for the thing I remember most distinctly was  how bone gnawingly cold and dark their home was,   that and their Christmas tree, it was a sparse  dour affair, made of  material like thin green bottle brushes it had no  ornaments, just red poppies, in memory of their son who was killed in the World War Two. (I wrote about it on this blog, in 2007)

 

 

One life, one poppy, one life, one poppy, if this art work can make that more tangible to our generation , during this the centenary of World War One,  I think it is working. If the poppies could be white, how nice that would be. As for the glorification of war? No sorry, it wasn’t what our visit said to me. It said what a grievous event it was..

 

When we got home, I went online and ordered a poppy, the monies raised going  top of our to Services charities. It will be sent to us once the installation has been dismantled. It may or may not get here in time for Christmas. If it does, it will be going at the top of our Christmas tree.


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Tender Wooden Care

Another post from my jolly into Norfolk with my friend Mrs Ogg.

We stumbled upon Rescue Wooden Boats,  at Burnham Norton; Mrs Ogg’s eye was caught by their logo, it is by one of her favourite artists James Dodds and we have curious minds so we decided to take a look.

We found a warm and knowledgeable welcome at their museum,housed in old RAF huts. I was particularly impressed by the work they have done to capture the history of the fishing community. You could spend many an hour watching their archive of films (it might take a wee while to get your ear attuned to the accent though!)

After we’d spent some time in the museum we were given a tour of the boat shed where their were several boats undergoing restoration,

Rescue wooden boats_

and many more awaiting tender loving care. Rescue wooden boats 6

But not all was history, there was a stunning looking commission being built, in the traditional style

rescue wooden boats 8

All  smooth timber, sumptuous glossy varnish *

Rescue wooden boats 2 

and  exceptional craftsmanship

rescue wooden boats 10

Glimpses could be seen, that it is was very much a place of industry

rescue wooden boats 12

The largest boat under restoration was the Lucy Lavers, a lifeboat, built in 1939 whose very first mission was to take part in the rescue operation at the Battle of Dunkirk,

rescue wooden boats 14

She and her history are to big to fit in this post,  but you can read more here.

rescue wooden boats 13

I take my hat off to all those who give their time and effort to Recue Wooden Boats. Brilliant work.

 

* The irony being I’d left Mr Uphilldowndale at home varnishing six new wooden doors, three coats each side… He’d have loved to have visited here.


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A Feast For The Eyes

Mrs Ogg and I  may have had a busy programme of sight seeing on our weekend away in Norfolk. But refuelling stops were taken very seriously.

Morning coffee

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afternoon tea

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Other foodie highlights were at and a very pleasant evening meal at Balthazar wine bar in Holt and a delicious Sunday breakfast of smoked salmon and poached egg croissant at  Byfords.  I loved Byfords, not only for its food, but for its warren of  higgled-piggledy rooms each telling a tale of previous use and lives. Fascinating, right up my street.


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Selling Snake Oil

A bit of a rant to start with; really Waitrose (the supermarket subsidiary of John Lewis, they of the heart warming adverts) we expect better of the company that likes to pitch its self, as a cut above the rest, the favoured store for the middle classes .

 

The label on this jar of sundried tomatoes (I told you we were talking middle class) is sneaky, contains more weasel words than it does extra virgin olive oil

sundried_

Yes folks, a measly 3% extra virgin olive oil. Read the label on the back

sundried 2

And you can see those sun kissed tomatoes are dunked in 47% sunflower oil, not luxuriating in a bath of extra virgin olive oil, as a quick glance of the label might suggest. (Waitrose artichoke hearts and sliced peppers share the same sunflower fate and  label pretensions). I wonder if the food boffins at Waitrose could convince us that 3% extra virgin olive oil brings anything to this product other that the words to the label?

 

I found an all together more genuine product, in the form of ancient bottle of  oil of eucalyptus when sorting mums house,  by the age of it, I suspect she and dad had themselves acquired it from a previous house clearance of an elderly aunt.

Pugh Buxton

I thought I’d see if it had retained its qualities, Sadly I broke the cork in the process (see I was right to be cautious of bottle tops)  but I didn’t need to go any further, it does still pack a punch of eucalyptus.

Pugh Buxton 2 

The dispensing chemist, Edgar Pugh of Buxton was mayor of Buxton in 1927 and the beautiful shop (which really needs to be photographed for this blog some day) is still a dispensing chemist, the historic shop and interior are listed, so thankfully haven’t suffered the same fate as Finlay McKinlay.


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My Life in Linoleum

As my brothers and I peeled back the layers of the family home of 48 years  swatches of decades gone by, started to reappear.

I remember this linoleum in my parents room in the early 1960’s (Kath Kidston, eat your heart out).

1950's lino_ 

And this fern fronded pattern in the bathroom (it comes with later paint speckles)

 

1950's lino 2-2

Wall paper in the bottom of drawers and the backs of cupboards all arc straight back to my childhood (hands up, who ‘backed’ their school books in the following papers? I don’t think there were many designs to choose from, were there?)

1970's wallpaper_

We found a tin of watches that time forgot

where time stood still

I don’t remember us being much of a ‘game playing’ family, my brothers are older than me by a good measure, I’m sure as a little sister I would have been a bit of a nuisance, impatient for my turn.  But we must have done at some time.

broken beads and games

Another moment captured in time, a lone Christmas peanut, lurking in the box

 peanuts_

Is that a box of pins from my Spirograph? Oh look, what fun, you can play on line!


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The Recession is Over

Look, it must be, I took Mr Uphildowndale to the store in York, where I’d seen signs that the recession was deepening.

And lo, it has to come to pass that all discounts are off,

recession ends

the asking price is back too £9.99

recession ends 2

Ahhh, but wait, it’s not actually sold yet has it? Maybe we shouldn’t count our Easter chicks before they’ve hatched.

 

Barnitts  store is a bit of a gem, I could have left Mr Uphilldowndale in there for many happy hours, it sells what our friends Mr and Mrs Ogg  might refer to as ‘items of faffness’ Mr Uphilldowndale loves such places and enjoys seeing all the very useful faffy things, woodworking  tools, small things in little plastic bags, balls of string and other  very important things*.  See  dodgy photo below. as they say in York, “if Barnitts haven’t got it, you can’t get it anywhere!”20140415_103315

On entering Barnitts I thought I was going into a small shop selling light fittings (I’m always trying to source light fitting I like, I’ve not managed it yet) to my amazement, it was like entering, Narnia I found myself in  a warren of departments, all on different floors and levels I emerged an hour later from a door way two shops down from where I’d gone in!

I discovered many shops are like this in York, the result of trying to squeeze modern shopping fashions into a historic city of jumbled buildings.

If you wanted to buy a new tea pot, Barnitts will have 20 to chose from, a flask to keep the tea warm? dozens.’ Letter boxes? Did you want brass or wrought iron? and a door knocker to match? I can’t imagine what it must be like to stock take, but I do know the total stock value must be massive!

This letter box is in a door at York Minster, not Barnitts, but I’m rather taken by it.

 

letter box york minster

 

 

*String is a very important thing
  Rope is thicker
  But string is quicker

Spike Milligan

Of course for full on faffness, you could make your own string

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