Uphilldowndale

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


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Blight and Blossom

Here we are May 14th and the blossom struggling to break out.

Some features of spring are as they should be, across the valley I can see small flockettes of lambs zipping around the fields, they may be in playful mode, they may just be trying to keep warm, its difficult to tell; from this distance it’s like watching an early video game.

So what blossom have I found? A snow flake of wild plum

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A claw set cluster of crab apple, so near yet so far, as the weather is cold and wet, it may even snow tonight.

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I’d a plan to post about blossom in April, I’d have posted beautiful blossom and then delivered seamless segue into beautiful music,  however nature has been slow off the mark, but the music can wait no longer.

Recently we were fortunate enough to have a real gem of an evening of live music, it was a tiny village hall sized affair where we saw Ashley Hutchins and his son Blair Dunlop perform. I’m sure sure Blair’s  musical future is much bigger than village halls (Ashley’s is already in the bag).  Blair’s album is called  Blight and Blossom.

Blair has a  linage of music and poetry,  it is in his  very DNA and, as my mum would say, ‘what’s in tree comes out in the branches’. Enjoy.

It was touching to see (no, make that feel, it was an emotion that was palpable in the hall) Ashley’s pride in his sons performance and craft (and if its not pushing the tree metaphor a tad too far, it was a moment, a memory, to be laid down in the heart wood of the tree.)


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Saying Goodbye To Daz

We met in the Autumn sunshine to say our farewells to Daz H,  Darren Holloway.

Hundreds of family and friends packed into the service, I’d stitched 43 club coloured ribbons for his club mates to wear, it wasn’t enough we were some short.

It was a service  that flowed with fond memories of his life and loves, and captured him so well. Many, many tears were shed. This is my favourite photo of Daz, I think it is an  iconic image of  him: Daz  in full flight.

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Photo by Andy Holden.

Here are the words that were read at the service, written by a fell running friend Mr 1470, they too capture the essence of Daz.

"Some news just hits you like a bolt from the blue, so unexpected, so bizarre in its nature that it fails to register in your cerebral cortex. It seems like a dream, and you fully expect to wake next morning to find the earth back on its true axis.
After that initial hit, the news creeps insidiously into every pore of your being, overwhelming you with a sadness that just floors you, unable to articulate your feelings and leaving you alone with your thoughts and memories.
On this grey, cold Highland morning, as the mist parts and the hillside across the loch becomes visible, I can’t help but see him descending, as graceful as a gazelle on his favourite rocky, bouldery terrain, lost in a world of concentration, his face contorted with effort, his eyes locked in an almost thousand yard stare, his knee and elbow bloodied from some earlier fall.
He’s gaining now on his rivals (and friends!) and nothing will distract him from his desire to reel them in. I shout encouragement….”go on Darren!”….but there’s not a flicker, he’s immersed in his gladiatorial battle.
As the ground flattens out, he strains every sinew to hold position as the finish line approaches. He crosses the line, totally spent, not an ounce of energy left, having given 100% (as he did to everything in life).
And then, just as suddenly, his demeanour changes and he’s all smiles and handshakes and offering words of congratulations to those around him. But it’s not for him to slink off towards the cafe or the pub with the rest of the front runners. Cup of water in hand, he walks back up the last part of the course, cheering, greeting and offering encouragement to those of us who can only dream of the level of performance which he delivers time and time again.
The word “legend” is much overused these days. He deserves that title, for his mastery of the fells, for his ability to make everyone feel special with well chosen words, for his deep understanding and appreciation of the ethos, history and legacy of the sports he loved, for the total enthusiasm with which he led his life. I only hope he knew just how much people thought of him.
The world is a sadder place for the passing of such people. My world is a sadder place this morning. He showed me true friendship, kindness, support and inspiration. To say I admired and respected him would be a massive understatement. My thoughts are especially with those whom he loved and who loved him. It must be so hard to take in….."

And this was the music


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As I Slept I Dreamed a Dream

Earlier this week our family gathered in Worcester for the funeral of My Mother-in-law (MiL).

She moved to Worcester in the mid 1980’s she loved the city, but most of all she loved her home. The epicentre of her home was her cosy kitchen, with its original cast iron range (which she took great pride in keeping lit all winter) and the steady, contented, tick tock of her clock.

The photo  below is of a stained glass window that caught my eye during the wedding of my brother in law and sister in law, just a few days ago.

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I thought the sentiment captured M-i-L’s relationship with both her home and with the city of Worcester. The quote is from the opening line of John Bunyan’s  Pilgrims Progress.

MiL’s faith was very important to her, as was music (it was The Three Choirs Festival that first brought her to Worcester)  and her funeral drew together many people from different churches in the city, there was beautiful  music and hearty, tuneful singing (not from me, I so can’t sing at the best of times, let alone with a lump in my throat!) It was a service that celebrated her life and truly captured her spirit, which is just what we hoped it would be.

Describing MiL to a colleague I said she was ‘feistily independent’:  and feisty was a word that cropped up several times during the funeral service, it’s also a word that could be easily substituted for passionate.

She was passionate about the ordination of women, she was a lay reader and involved with the group Women in Theology. She was passionate about her political beliefs and her wish for peace, she was a  peace demonstrator at Greenham Common back in the 1980’s.

MiL was also passionate about her bike, a keen cyclist all her life she cycled from Worcester to stay with us in north Derbyshire during her 70th year, staying at youth hostels along the way. I remember  she asked when she arrived if she could take a soak in a hot bath. I asked would she perhaps like a glass of sherry to take with her? She giggled and replied ‘I’ve never done that before, it sounds very decadent, but yes I think I will!’ She flatly refused to wear a cycle helmet, her theory being that it was the motorist responsibility not to hit her! (I’m pleased Tom has a very different attitude to cycle helmets!)

MiL had problems with hearing loss for a number of years; an operation to insert a cochlear implant had helped a lot, but many things remained very difficult for her.

Were talking yesterday about such an incident.

To set the scene,  we were all in a yellow taxi  cab in New York city, we’d flown over to catch up with BiL who was racing around the world it was all very exciting. MiL was sat in the front of the cab, next to the driver, the rest of us were piled in the back. The driver is trying to ask MiL where she is from, but because she couldn’t see his face to lip read she couldn’t work out what he is saying.

Frustrated, the cab driver turns to us in the back and asked loudly

‘Doesn’t she speak English?’

To which my mother in law replied tartly.

‘ Actually, I’m deaf in ANY language!’

That told him. She would also have told you, don’t gabble, look at me when you are speaking to me and take your hand away from your mouth. Her hearing loss made social occasions, with lots of chatter and background noise particularly difficult; she had a poster above her desk,  it read

‘The loneliest place in the world is the edge of a conversation’


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A Different View

An email came my way over the Christmas break, it came from pianist, composer Jack Gibbons  it was a request for my permission to use some of my photos from Flicker to accompany a recording of his work. In the cyber world of ‘cut and paste’ it is always nice to be asked, it is also nice to see a different take on your own work, in this case my photos, so let the music sooth you into the weekend. Enjoy.

 


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The Family of Man

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Ancestor I, Ancestor II, Parent I

The Family of Man, by Barbara Hepworth at Snape Maltings. To be enjoyed by the family of man. In the background, the sails of boats on the river Deben

The sign is rather weathered

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The sculpture is rather tactile

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What I can’t capture here is the sound of an orchestra, rehearsing in the building behind me.

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Let There be Music

After indulging in art, we took to music.  Now here in the UK most places the size of St Davids (population 2,000) would have at most, a village hall in which to offer a recital, but  St David’s is different, it has its very own cathedral

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We went along to a concert  performed in the by Elin Manahan Thomas (open the link and have her singing running for added atmosphere and goose-bumps  to this post)

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accompanied by  the  lovely young people of TheCardiff School of Music (who all looked no older than Tom.) Simply beautiful music in a spectacular location

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It was something of a treat for Mrs Ogg and I to walk to the pub for our supper saunter down to the cathedral for the concert and then stroll back to the cottage.

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After City Lights

I’ve been to not one, but two cities this week, Wednesday saw me entombed for the day in a Manchester hotel and over the weekend I’ve been staying in Leeds city centre. I’m so not used to being downtown on a Saturday night. I (and my colleagues) suddenly felt very old and parochial.*

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It didn’t bode well when we arrived at our hotel to find reception swamped by hen parties booking in for the night. We just knew that they are going to have far more staying power than us and would not go quietly, into, or out of the night.

I was lucky my room overlooked Tetley’s brewery, some of our group had rooms that over looked a night club and plaza, a plaza that was still teeming with life  and booming with music at 4am. If I looked bleary eyed this morning it was due to my over indulgence (we had a very nice meal and ‘some wine’ at the Arts Cafe) other were wearied by the excess’s of other revellers. 

I was very happy to get home this afternoon and sit and watch the leaves float by on the pond, it’s been been a beautiful sunny day. It was about as much dazzling colour and excitement as I could cope with.

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*OK so we might have been just a tad envious of their youthfulness; as we wallowed nostalgically in tales of  clubbing and parties past (especially those who frequented the Hacienda) I’ve never been much of a clubber, but I am fond of a dance and a party

(Lloyd Spencer’s photography captures Leeds nightlife perfectly)

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