Uphilldowndale

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


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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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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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Hare Today

The snow keeps coming and going, this morning we woke to delicate confection,  a butter cream topping of snow upon a squelchy sponge of a soggy muddy field (I despair of keeping the mud out of the house) the light was  diffused and sort of floury for want of a better word, I rather liked it.

Floury light 3-1

Spud the dog, Jammy and Dodger the kitten-cats  all came with me for my turn around the field, but I’ll save the resulting mayhem for tomorrow.

Floury light 2-1

We’ve more snow forecast for tomorrow, how much remains to be seen.  Here earlier drifts lie under today’s ‘top dressing’.

Floury light -1

I was just about to go back indoors to toast my cold toes when I spotted a brown hare in the next field.

Hare 2-1

I do like hares, but I never get very close. Maybe I need a longer lens…

Hare 3-1

He lolloped over by the sheep, before exiting over the ridge.

Hare -1

Derbyshire Harrier has some lovely shots of mountain hares, over on his Flickr page


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Barn and Spire

A quintessentially British landscape.

Barn and Spire -1 

If church buildings are your thing, pop over and have a look at some more of Derbyshire’s finest  religious buildings (and of course, there is this blogs ‘novelty contribution’ to Derbyshire’s church heritage ).

Or if fields are more your fare, pop over and look at Noel’s training blog, and the further adventures of moles in the meadows (we are fond of moles on this blog).

(I think the church spire is in the village of Butterton)


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The Lightning Tree

I’ve been intending to post photos of the lightning tree since Spring, you may have thought it dead. But it was not.

lightning tree-1

Life forced its way back out into the world

lightning tree 3-1

Clever eh?

I’ve been searching for this poem since Spring,  following a bit of a banter with Gerry,  it was something about trees and seasons, I can’t now remember what. It would have helped if I could have remembered who wrote the poem, it was Roger McGough.

It is National poetry Day, so it seems fitting to have finally got my act together.

Trees Cannot Name the Seasons
Trees cannot name the seasons
Nor flowers tell the time.
But when the sun shines
And they are charged with light,
They take a day-long breath.
What we call "night"
Is their soft exhalation.

And when joints creak yet again
And the dead skin of leaves falls,
Trees don’t complain
Nor mourn the passing of hours.
What we call "winter"
Is simply hibernation.

And as continuation
comes to them as no surprise
They feel no need
To divide and itemize.
Nature has never needed reasons
For flowers to tell the time
Or trees put a name to the seasons.

~by Roger McGough
[This poem can be found in McGough's
book Melting into the Foreground, 1986]


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Spud on Sunday part LXIX

Spud the dog would like to hand over this Sundays post to Freckle

Freckle-1

Freckle is a fire investigation dog, working with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

Freckle 1-1

Freckle was out and about today at the Emergency Services Open day which was in the  beautiful Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, here are the gardens on a colder day.

Freckle has some dandy little shoes (with Vibram soles to boot) to protect his paws when the going get hot or rough. (Spud would like a set so he doesn’t get friction burns on his pads when playing ball in the yard with Tom)

Freckle 2-1

Though at £75 a set, Spud can just go and play ball in the field, as tennis balls are cheaper to fund.

Freckle was not the only sighting of a Springer spaniel, there were a couple of hungry hounds with the Derbyshire Cave Rescue display,

Working dogs -1

I don’t imagine they are cave rescue dogs, but I’m happy to be corrected, I suspect they were just in it for a free lunch.


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Messed Up

Blackthorn, part of our hedgerow, we planted it about nine years ago and it is looking rather splendid and well established, we never intended it as ‘stock proof’ sort of barrier, just an enhancement of the ‘green corridor’ that flanks the boundary between our field and the lane.

Blackthorn-1

It also has the look of my hair (and head!) My hair could be described as luggy at the moment. I’ve decided my ‘soft curls’ phase is over, I’m going back to trimmed efficiency at least that way I know where I’m at.

The weather is also messed up, blossom and sunlight is on the wane, snow and wind are forecast. Watch this space. 


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The Bare Bones of Winter

The snow has gone, for now, these images were taken as it took its leave.

Winter fields 2-1

The houses at the foot of the shot  above must get no sun all winter… we have often thought how lucky we were to end up with a house on sunny side of a hill,  mind it was more through good luck than good management; buying as we did, at the height of summer it was something that never entered our busy little heads.

At this time of year its a landscape that is lean and emaciated or textural and fine boned, depending on your point of view.

Winter fields -1

Note the ugly white industrial building, bottom left of shot. When the snow is on the ground  it is at least it camouflaged, the other 50 weeks of the year it stick out like a sore thumb. Planners please note.

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