Uphilldowndale

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


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All Mixed Up

I’m still here, there, and everywhere; wearing, as a colleague is fond of telling me ‘more hats than  they’ve got at John Lewis’.

This afternoon I drove to the village of Waterhouses  in Staffordshire, to collect Joe, he’d spent the weekend helping a Cub  Scout pack have a high old time at Orchard Farm. Mr Uphilldowndale took Joe there on Friday evening, through thick fog, not a pleasant journey. This was whilst I was at a rather  feisty public meeting, wearing one of my many hats, that wasn’t particularly pleasant either.

Waterhouses is set in the midst of beautiful countryside, but it was the nearby Cauldon Cement works that I wanted to photograph.

Cement works -1

But there was no time to stay and play,  as Joe needed to get home and get his homework done before his ‘weekend high’ slumped into Sunday night angst.

I’m looking forward to reclaiming some ‘me time’ to loiter around with the camera, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion its not going to be before New Year. So for the time being, ‘happy snaps’ it will have to be.

Joe was particular taken with the silos at the cement works,

silo -1

he said when they were out in a nearby field, they could hear the echo’s of their shouts (of which I’m sure there were many) echoing around the inside of the silos.

We’ve discussed cement works before…


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Size Doesn’t Matter

Trust me, it’s just a Christmas tree, its size will not make your Christmas ‘perfect’ nor is it the difference between life and death.

I was Christmas shopping last week when I found myself in a delightful but tiny shop,  when I shop there I have to quash rising feelings of claustrophobia because it sells such nice things and is, unlike the rest of town a ‘real’ shop: it is so small and intimate that everyone is sort of forced into one conversation. Well that is my excuse.

Another customer was going on, and on, and on, about the trials of buying a fresh Christmas tree. There was nothing right with the selection of trees on sale in Derbyshire this year (and trust me she had checked every last one of them).

Tree angst included

  • Too expensive ‘who would charge over £45 for a Christmas tree, what with the recession and everything’ *
  • ‘I always have a six foot tree, nothing less will do’
  • ‘Getting the tree just right makes my Christmas’
  • ‘My friends children are so upset because they haven’t got a six foot tree this year.’
  • ‘I took the first one back and changed it for another that was better.’

It was probably a bit blunt of me, but the words just fell from my mouth…

“I’m sorry, I think you need to ‘get a life life’ here; it is just a Christmas tree you are talking about.  Why don’t you just get some nice twigs and some pretty lights.”

She looked at me as though I had arrived from a different planet, and in truth I probably have.

Vintage lights 2

 

(*probably the person who has invested time and effort in growing the thing for the last six years, they will be trying to recoup their investment and buy nice things for their children…)


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‘tis the Devils Work

I know we touched on this before, but it’s that time of year again.

Devil blackberry-2

The 29th of September was Michaelmas; the official start of autumn, and folklore has it, that is the day the devil pisses on blackberries, spits on them, curses them or puts his cloven hoof on them (depending which part of the country you are from) rendering them inedible!

And not a pot of bramble jelly or blackberry gin did I make this year, not even a blackberry and apple crumble, I’m a failed domestic goddess.

Mich daisy-2

I nipped into Ikea today, never  a wise move it always winds me up (although there was the odd moment of light relief.) It’s not really a store you can nip into, you have to be processed, led through the store, like cattle down a chute at an abattoir, I only wanted to pick up some bundles of scissors for a colleague, I must have walked 3 miles to find them.

If you are going to Ikea Manchester (actually it’s Ikea in Ashton-Under- Lyne, so lets call a spade a spade, the people of Ashton do) you need to know the store now doesn’t open till 11am, not 10am as in years gone by; I hit on this little hitch last time I tried to ‘nip in,’ I had a cunning plan that I could buy what I wanted and get to a meeting by 11:00, I was wrong, it was the day they had changed the opening time, a lot of people were not happy bunnies, having driven a fair distance for some pre planned ‘destination shopping.’ You could tell Ikea were expecting a bit of grief from disgruntled customers as they had posted a Scandinavian giant* on the door, who was repelling all boarders which seems to typify the feeling that I always get in Ikea, that they pay lip service to ‘valuing customers.’

Never mind here is a pretty leaf

pink rowan leaf-2

How tall do you have to be to be a giant? any way, he was very, very tall.


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By Train to Fort William

Mr Uhdd is running in the Ben Nevis Fell race this weekend, its a race he has run before

image 

So he and Tom and have gone by train to Fort William, it’s a long journey, how much do you think the train tickets cost? From a village station south of Manchester to Fort William return?

Tom’s ticket £4.35  was each way and Mr Uhdd’s was £15.20 each way.  Giving a grand total £39.10. Bought with the aid of  family rail card and a bargain in anyone’s book, it is possible to buy a ticket for the exact same journey that is so expensive you will need gold ingots to pay for it, it’s an apt illustration of the vagaries of the pricing structure of train fares in the UK and a reflection of Mr Uhdd’s tenacity in tracking down such a bargain. 

Joe and I aren’t going we’ve made other plans, although it’s ages since I’ve been on a long train trip, I rather envy Mr Uhdd and Tom, especially the journey from Glasgow to Fort William (although I don’t envy them camping in the rain they’ve been getting in Scotland in the last 48 hours)  the passing scenery will be stunning and the station list is poetry

Garelochhead, Arrochar & Tarbet, Ardlui, Crianlarich, Crianlarich,Upper Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy ,Rannoch ,Corrour, Tulloch, Roy Bridge, Spean Bridge ,
Fort William

Train journeys, Scotland, poetry; if that holds an appeal you’d best watch this.

 


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Liquid Lunch

There isn’t much colour in our garden, I never seem to get it right at this time of year, but there’s are plenty around and about for the insects to sup some amber nectar.

Liquid lunch

There’s the heather of course and  there is a lot of ragwort around,

Ragwort

it might be good news for insects but no one else likes it, for a start it is poisonous to livestock and has a 70% seed germination rate (oh that my seeds in the garden could aspire to this figure) and it’s therefore no surprise that it seems to be getting a hold around here

 

Many thanks to all who have voted for this blog on the Dorset Cereals ‘Little Blog Awards’ Tom has been sussing out the competition and tells me I’ve a way to go yet to catch if I’m to catch up with the front runners, but I’ve got till the end of August to win a bumper bag of Dorset Cereals (actually I’m not a muesli sort of girl; but porridge, with a sprinkling of crunchy demerara sugar and a dash of cream, now you’re talking.)

Our breakfast routine has been dealt a major blow, after nearly 20 years of delivering our copy of the the Guardian newspaper, in time for us to give it a quick skim at the breakfast table (or at least look at the photos) the local newsagents ‘new driver’ has announced he won’t drive up the lane to our house, it’s too tricky apparently, the business women in me fumes at the driver dictating the delivery round, for goodness sake (or words with a similar meaning) what’s up with folk, don’t they want to work? I’d read in the newspaper that their is a recession. The chances of him lasting in the job have got to be zilch, this is only August, just wait till the dark mornings, rain, snow, ice grasp his delivery round. If I was the employer I’d be drawing a line under this now, before he decimates the rest of the delivery run, more customers are ruled out,  it all becomes completely unviable and we all toddle off to Tesco’s  for our daily paper and another independent newspaper shop bites the dust.


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Financial Year End

Just how beige can I make a blog post title? This has surely got to be the winner? It’s just that it’s that time of year again; when the local authorities are feverishly trying to spend their ‘use it or lose it’ budgets before the end of the financial year. It is as predictable as the flowering of the daffodils, you can see the signs.

IMG_7405

There is always an out break of new footpath signs at this time of year, but this year the really noticeable spends are the installation of drop kerbs at junctions, I haven’t got a photo to show you, but they are ramped kerb stones, the idea being that they are much easier to negotiate for the disabled or anyone pushing a buggy or pushchair.  It is a fine and noble (not to mention practical) thing to spend public money on I’m just a bit perplexed as to why our local authority are installing them on stretches of roads so isolated that they might see one pedestrian a fortnight, when out side the local doctors surgery, next to the disabled parking bays, there is not a drop kerb insight. Day in, day out the frail, elderly, disabled and parents with sick and fractious children struggle with high kerbs and pot holed surfaces, whilst out on the hill roads, where field tracks come down to the road, there are some very nice new kerbstones for the curlews to look at.

All I ask is a little prioritisation please. But I suppose I shouldn’t  have written this rant as a blog post, just a letter to the council, maybe it’s me, I’m the one that should prioritise.  Oh dear, never mind here are some pretty leaves.

Spring growth


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Algebra

IMG_2085

It’s strange what thoughts come to mind, when you disengage the brain, knock it out of gear and leave ticking over for a while. I was standing by this river, listening and watching the tumbling water, contemplating you might say; when the topic of algebra leapt into my mind, it wasn’t a welcome thought.

When I was at school we had (to my mind at least) a truly terrifying maths teacher, I lived in fear of coming to his attention for you would be marked out, there would be no escape from his shouting or his scathing sarcasm his manner rendered me like a rabbit caught in the glare of car head lights, I would simply freeze in his presence, hardly conducive to learning anything let alone algebra. This teacher had a good stock of standard phrases and put downs, (as well as a keen eye for throwing board rubbers and chalk, kids today don’t know they are born……etc etc) one of his stock lines was that if you got your ‘signs wrong’ in algebra you would be ‘doomed’ and that you would  ‘end your days standing on the Thames embankment contemplating throwing yourself into the cold grey waters.’

At school I never did get the hang of algebra and when I went ‘back to school’ a few years ago the subject  of algebra reared it’s ugly head, at least this time I was able to explain that as a dyslexic, algebra simply ‘does my head in.’ I explained to my tutor.

  • Algebra has the added disadvantage, in that incorporates letters and numerals (a bit like mixing your drinks gives you the worst hangover!) but certain letters combinations cause more confusion than others.
  • mxn, looks like a flock of migrating birds.
  • XxX, a chain link fence!
  • bxd, mirror images are a challenge, so that rules out pxq as well

Second time round, I still didn’t fall for the charms of algebra, but it didn’t matter because by then I’d discovered psychology, sociology and creative writing; so now  I stand on the embankment contemplating the cold grey waters, but not for the reasons predicted by my maths teacher circa 1973

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