Uphilldowndale

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


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Taking the Biscuit

I’m here still here; wading, savouring and wallowing in the boxes of family photos, memorabilia and documents that have emerged from my Mums house.

This caught my eye,  from the Buxton Advertiser in 1939. I’ve yet to work out why the page has been carefully stored away since then.

Many of my family were employed by the Co-Operative Society, back in the day. I wonder what they would have made of the current debacle. 

In 1939, the bonus offered, to their customers, at any rate were much more modest.

 

Co-Op buscuits


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A Second Glance

Amidst all that must be done after a bereavement, I have managed to slip away for a day of good company, delicious food and a little creative play time, it was such a tonic. My destination was near the Derbyshire village of  Sheldon. I hadn’t realised, approaching Sheldon from the direction of the village of Ashford in the Water, just how close I was too Magpie Mine, which seems to be a place I always stumble upon rather than a destination (although I have promised Mr Uphilldowndale I’ll take him there on one of our Friday excursions when we mange to get them back on our radar).

 

sheldon_

I paused by the farm (to let the moths out of my camera bag,it feels such a while since I took photos for fun!)

The cows were curious

Curious cow

and the farm cat had no option but a cold tin roof.

cat on a cold tin roof

 

Old time readers may remember my story of the bears in the belfry, well this story in the press today, totally upstages my furry flying friends. All thanks to the deliciously named and refreshingly successful Raspberry Pi  Well done you Pi makers.


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Vintage Years

We finished emptying Mum’s house this week,it goes without saying that it was emotional work, but there was laughter as well as tears. Here is a photo I found, that Mum had taken in  July 1997, the garden in full bloom.

Pride and Joy

It all looks a lot sunnier than it did on Tuesday.

There many discoveries, of lost childhood memorabilia, forgotten heirlooms (notably, a spectacularly hideous antique plate that had been waiting for its moment to shine, for over five decades, hidden away in the back of a cupboard, as I lifted it out, the bag it was in disintegrated, the plate fell to the floor, smashed beyond repair. My brother who’d recently seen a similar plate on a TV antiques programme, refuses to tell me just how much it was worth).

In the cupboard under the stairs, I found six crates of my Dad’s home brew, dating back as far as 1989.

 

home brew

Some of it looked very dodgy, and alarmingly it was in screw top bottles.

home brew 4

After a dynamic risk assessment, I decided a little eye protection wouldn’t go amiss before moving it.

home brew


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How Time Flies

I’ve been busy decorating, I’ve set myself a bit of a deadline, I’ve invited the neighbours round for a bit of a do, its in a good cause.   The British Heart Foundation is a charity close to our  own hearts, especially in memory of Daz H.

The invites have gone out.

ramp up the red

But it does mean there is no time for dawdling, but more haste can mean less speed: this is an old house, no wall is true, no plaster smooth, (I did succumb to a little plaster envy the other day) exposed  oak beams may brim with ancient character but they  are a fiddle to decorate around. Here is one on the landing.

oak beam

And this is my favourite beam, in the lounge, I love its rough and ready, vernacular style and wonder why a load bearing beam was placed over a window opening?

forked oak beam_

 

One day we’ll find out how old they are.

 

I was so busy at the weekend,I forgot about the The Big Garden Bird Watch.

Take a look at these birdy videos, mesmerising I really want to get to see a murmeration of starlings.


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Rock of Ages

 

This is a lump of rock my Dad picked up from the side of the road, near Castleton in Derbyshire, circa 1969 (we’ve visited the area before)

blue John rock

It is a very particular local stone, Blue John (for scale the rock is about the size of an orange). Dad gave it to me the day he took me down the Blue John Cavern, he wasn’t much into doing ‘family trips out’ so it is a special memory (and he probably took me down because my Mum would have flatly refused to do so!)

I don’t imagine you can find, or take such things these days*, you can however still see the evidence of Blue John, in some unusual places in and around Castleton.

I’ve come across Blue John several times this year, here in ornate splendour, in the church where my father-in-laws memorial service was held, in London.

blue John font_

It was obviously a big budget font when it was made!

blue John font 2

And in a shoe box of old  bits and pieces, which my Mum thinks came from a great aunts house, in the 1970’s, a cut piece of Blue John, that had probably been a brooch at sometime, but that had long since lost both its mounting and a chunk out of the edge.

 

I decided to get it recut and made into a necklace. I didn’t think to photograph it until I was about to hand it over in the Jewellers, so a hasty phone shot (that makes it look the size of a dinner plate; it wasn’t!) to show it before.

blue John stone_ 

And here it is all done, with mother of pearl underneath to lift the colour. I’m very pleased.

blue John necklace

Blue John is only found in Castleton, last year a long lost seam was rediscovered . And look even bats like Blue John.

 

 

* There are many Edwardian and Victorian houses around here, with garden rockeries made from limestone pavements, another no-no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.bluejohnstone.com/treakcliffe-bats-c63.html


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Buttercup Syrup

There can’t be a more  soothing linctus than sitting in a field of buttercups on a sunny afternoon.

Buttercups 2-1

This springs bizarre weather seems to have bothered the buttercups little. Our field is swathed with them.

Buttercups 3-1

We do little to our meadow, it gets cut for hay* (or haylage) depending on the weather by a neighbouring farmer, he ‘mucks’ and harrows it as required. And puts sheep on it to graze it for a few weeks each year. We pull out a few docks and clumps of nettles each year; but other than that, nature takes its course.

Buttercups 7-1

If it were a commercially farmed field I’m sure it would have been ploughed and re-sown by now, the luxury of lolling around in the buttercups I suspect is not a financial option. In the photo below you can see another field across the valley that would appear to be managed in a similar way to ours, if the  yellow haze of buttercups are an indicator that is.

Buttercups 6-1

I suppose we have a wild flower meadow, although in my head I think that would mean more diversity and less buttercups, I don’t know. I need to do a little research. 

This year is the 150th anniversary of Manchester to Buxton railway line, look I’ve managed a shot of a train trundling up the valley (I was lolling around for quite awhile, as whilst it is a vital line, that  fortunately escaped Beeching’s axe, its not a busy one)

Buttercups 9-1

I wonder what the fields looked like 150 years ago, Freddy the farmer told me there were corncrakes here. Not now. I suppose now there is no way of knowing just how it was.

* Hay from this field smells sweeter than anything Penhaligon’s could sell you.


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70th Anniversary of the Dambusters

Yesterday was a pretty significant day for the town of Chapel en le Frith in Derbyshire, people gathered in the market place, at the war memorial to witness a remembrance tribute.

Lancaster 70 years 117-1

 

  The local branch of the Royal British Legion had pulled out all the stops

Lancaster 70 years 3-1

The place was packed, not just with local people but those who had travelled from far and wide. You could  just tell some had made a supreme effort to get there.

Lancaster 70 years 6-1

One of the veterans shook me, and many many more, firmly by the hand, ‘Thank you for coming, thank you for coming!’ He kept repeating. I thought we were supposed to be thanking them?

There were civic dignitaries, the young (children from Combs Infants School and Chapel High School)

Lancaster 70 years 8-1

the decorated

Lancaster 70 years 4-1

the media ( a current member of 617 Squadron is interviewed for the BBC)

Lancaster 70 years 9-1

There was even a letter to be read, a letter from the Queen, her representative laid one of many wreaths

Lancaster 70 years 10-1

But there was more to come, at 12:50 hrs,  from the south, over Combs Moss above the nearby village of Combs where Astell lived came the Lancaster Bomber, The City of Lincoln.

Lancaster 70 years 15-1

We watched, as did many more, from the top of nearby Eccles Pike,

Lancaster 70 years 12-1

As the Lancaster made four sweeps above the town (here above the high school).

Lancaster 70 years 18-1

The Dambusters raid has a special place in the hearts and history of this area, not only because of the lost lives of local men,  Flight Lieutenant William Astell DFC and Sergeant Jack Marriott DFM, but because this area was where the men practiced for the mission, using the Derwent Valley, just over the hills,  to perfect the specialist  skills they would need for such an audacious attack.

Lancaster 70 years 16-1

The Lancaster, having paid its respects, banked off over the hills to join the Battle of Britain Flight down the Derwent Valley (spectacular video here)

Lancaster 70 years 19-1

Well done everybody, you did them proud.


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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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The Village

The Village starts tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.

Image for The Village

I’m sure you will enjoy the scenery, it is going to look more than a little familiar to regular readers of this blog. Enjoy.

The drama sets out in 1914, here is the Uphilldowndale homestead in around 19006-1910

Home sweet home-2

I’d planned a longer post with a few links to ‘The Village’ landscape, but  that will have to wait. I’ve not been so well for the last few days, all those antibiotics came at a price, Joe tried to cheer me up, ‘At least it is better than the tooth ache Mum’. I certainly hope the reaction doesn’t last as long as the tooth ache.


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, March 24th 2013

Well you can guess who has enjoyed this weather, Spud the warrior dog with his icy  breast plate.

Snow warrior -1

The rest of us may be finding it all rather difficult, not Spud the adventure dog

MJB 3-1

I know that in many parts of the world, this amount of snow is not a big deal. But it is here, and so late in the year,  I’ve not seen this much snow in the lanes since my childhood

Snow girl 2

(which wasn’t 1947 since you ask).  It is the winds that have caused the drama, Tom  and Mr Uphilldowndale spent hours digging out the lane yesterday, it was all back again in a few hours. As Tom wryly noted, it won’t stop filling in until every field east of here is empty of snow or the wind drops.

We went to visit Mrs Bee and her boys, they are not  very happy. Mrs Bees road is worse than our lane, it is not going to plough out, it will be a snow blower, digger or a long wait for it to thaw.

SPB 6-1

We took emergency supplies of cheese and wine (essential do you not think?) and Tom helped carry a bail of hay for the farmer whose sheep are in the next field. Brownie points all round.

The space between these two drystone walls is the road, the walls are about five-six foot high at this point, full to the brim.

Snow filled lane -1

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