Uphilldowndale

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


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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).

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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

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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.

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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.

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* 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.

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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

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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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Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

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They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

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It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

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I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

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He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

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We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)


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Sooty and Sweep

Before we get anywhere near the heady delights of fresh paint and new carpets we thought we’d best get a few grubby  DIY chores out of the way. Like sweeping the chimney, for one.

On this occasion as we had already emptied the room of furnishings, we went for the ‘brush up’ technique, the other option being Mr Uphilldowndale going up on the roof and pushing the ‘brush down’ the chimney;  with ‘brush down’ it is easier to contain the soot in the grate, but as it involves ladders and teetering on the roof, we are not very keen.

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It seems from the rather alarming amount of soot, that this domestic chore may have been long over due!

Sweeping the chimney 1-1

As you can gather we’re fond of our open fire. The fireplace has a few stories of it’s own to tell.


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Stacking Up

It’s been busy around here of late, chores and posts are stacking up.

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For one thing we zipped  off down to Worcester  to visit  Mr Uphilldowndale’s  Mum,  whilst we were there she needed a hand with a few few DIY type tasks and domestic chores, this is following an operation to her foot, which has left her less mobile than usual. 

Whilst my men folk busied themselves lagging pipes, fixing baths, taps and computers I set off into the town centre, somewhere I’ve not been for many a year. My mission was to find some sort of caddy or basket to fix to Mums walking frame** so she could tote a few things around the house with her, my search ended at Lakeland*, where I found a peg basket that, with the aid of a couple of cable ties  fitted the bill perfectly.

I’m afraid I didn’t have the time to take many photos, but I felt I had at least to capture Pratley’s, a shop of a genre that is disappearing from the high streets of this country (the photos are from my phone, but better than nothing I suppose) .

Pratley’s is a glass and china shop,

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in many ways the stock feels like it has been passing its life on the shelves waiting to become vintage china, cutting out the middle man, see first photo .

There isn’t as much stock in the shop as I remember, but that was a long time ago.

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But it is still full of surprises

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You are never quite sure of what you will find next

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* feeling very middle aged, in that my  ideal shopping destination is Lakeland….

** On the subject of walking frames, here is a photo from last summer, that I don’t think I ever posted: we were amused by the Le Mans style start  of the walking frames at the nursing home where Mr Uhdd’s aunt was staying.

Le Manns Start-1


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In the Dentist’s Chair

I’ve been to the dentist today, it was quite a long appointment (I have high maintenance teeth) the dentist kept apologising for any discomfort, but there was no need, it was fine and dandy (and I’d chosen to get it all over in one go, he did offer me two appointments) Our NHS dentist and his staff are lovely, the surgery is modern and bright (my only frustration being I can’t join in the lively conversations, when I’ve a mouth full of dental implements).

For me anything has to better than the dentist I endured as a child, which to my memory was like visiting a torture chamber, with a dentist who had the chairside manner of an hangman. When I visited Quarry Bank Mill a few months ago there was on display, in one of the galleries, dedicated to the health of the mill workers (which was primitive, leeches and the like, but probably good for it’s time) a dentist chair, I stood and looked at it and thought OMG that looks just like the one I had to sit in as a child and have extractions… but I’m not that old! This is a museum piece I m looking after after all. I was greatly relived when another chap in the tour party, voiced thoughts in line with  mine (thankfully he looked my sort of age, not an octogenarian) he too remembered chairs like this in the 1960’s

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We didn’t have lights like this though, which are rather nice if you are not staring up at them in terror!

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Growing Up With The Grass

Not long after Tom was born, in March 1995  I very proudly showed him off  to the farmer who used to farm this place, when it was a working farm (as did generations of his family before him). Freddie the farmer (you’ve heard about him before) used to spend a lot of time after he retired and moved down in to a bungalow in the village, for an easier life, pottering around in the lanes, you’d see his car parked up in a gate way, Freddie would be leaning on the gate in the time honoured  old farmer sort of way, watching the seasons go by, with his dog Scruff (a dog that could have no other name, it was him to perfection) sat at his feet.

Not a Spring goes by but I think of the words he said to me about Tom.

Ehhhh, a Spring baby, grand as owt; he’ll grow up wit’ grass

Growing up with the grass-1

And grow he certainly has, he’s taller than me and his dad, and his younger brother is not far behind him (and may well end up the taller of the two).

The problem with this is that they no longer fit in the house. When Mr Uhdd and I bought this place (20 years ago this very month) we could never of imagined that our children would be so tall as to have to duck through door ways and stoop under beams.

Growing up with the grass 2-1 

I may have to show and tell.


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Bursting Buds and New Fangled Things

Spring is bursting out all over

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darling buds

We’ve had a couple of lovely warm days this week, but today hasn’t been one of them, it’s been cold; Tom has gone off on a camping trip, preparation  for his Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. As his mother it is my duty to worry that he won’t be warm enough; but he should be, he’s taken enough fleece, down and Gore-tex with him.

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my lovely larch

Tom was bemused last night, when I explained that when I went on a school field study trip to Malham Cove circa 1974, the teacher instructed to take a bin liner each, with holes cut for head and arms, to use as waterproofing over our anoraks, as it would rain in Yorkshire, and it did. Tom couldn’t quite imagine that  the cagoule hadn’t been invented (if it had it hadn’t reached us yet). Mr Uhdd was consulted,  my sepia tale was verified and no, he didn’t own a cagoule until he was in his twenties. It only occurred to me later as I was putting rubbish into the bin, that in 1974, bin liners had only just been invented.


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Quarry Bank Mill Part II

Mr Uphilldowndale took me out to lunch, for a celebratory sandwich and a piece of the National Trusts finest victoria sponge (he knows how to treat a gal! The reason for the celebration was the unveiling of a plaque, I’ve never been to a plaque unveiling before.

Quarry Bank Mill receives 61st Engineering Heritage Award

Quarry Bank Mill IMecE-1

Isobel Pollock, chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Heritage Committee, said: “Not only is the Quarry Bank Mill a beautiful working example of the engineering technology that turned Britain into an industrial superpower, it also acts as a window into the North-West’s past.

“The work the mill’s staff and volunteers are doing in bringing the industrial revolution alive for today’s schoolchildren cannot be praised highly enough.”

Barry Cook, chief engineer at Quarry Bank, described the award as a “fantastic honour”, particularly as almost all of the team are volunteers.

“At Quarry Bank Mill we pride ourselves on making visits interesting and enjoyable for both adults and children, taking great pleasure in sharing the history of this fascinating Georgian mill which is still producing cotton today,” he said.

Mr Uhdd met lots of folk he hadn’t seen since he was fresh out of university and joined the real world, working for ICI back in the late 1970’s, after lunch we had time for a mooch around the mill, the last time I’d been there was when the boys were somewhat smaller and wanted to look at different things than I did.

The mill charts the history of weaving, from home weavers and their heirlooms*

Hand loom Quarry bank Mill-1

right through to the vast mills, that were key employers  in northern England right through until the 1970’s with working machinery that still produces cloth, I rather like the sound  and rhythm  of the looms, one or two at a time

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This I wouldn’t like, dangerous and noisy

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I’ll leave you with a few more shots, the sun is shinning here today, I’m going to go out and grab a fix of vitamin D!

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Quarry Bank Mill looms 2-1

The word ‘heirloom’ comes from the tradition of the loom being handed down from father to son.


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Photo-fest

It is very pretty out there, cold, crystal bright.

I was out and about first thing (with camera of course) and I’ll be drip feeding you images all week. In the mean time (before ‘Spud on Sunday’ that is, he will be along later) a typical Derbyshire farm house, hugging the hill, replete with stone slate roof and  evidence of a well stoked fire inside.

Derbyshire farm house-1

Extract the polythene wrapped bales of silage, and this view won’t have changed much in centuries.

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