Uphilldowndale

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


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog 6th April 2014

 

Have you missed Spud? Here he is, his leg is much better, but not quite right yet.

IMG_8558

 

He got a bit excited today, Jimmy the farmer turned up in his big red tractor, with blade harrow in tow, to do a bit of remedial work on the field, where the pipes for the ground source heat pump were laid*.

big red tractor

 

Jimmy  jumped out of the cab for a natter, leaving the engine running. Time passed we carried on, nattering , putting the world, and the meadow to rights. When somewhat startlingly, the big red tractors engine went ‘Vrooooom, vrooom as only the engines of big red (and possibly green) tractors can.

‘Ahhh’, said Jimmy, knowingly,without missing a beat, ‘the dog will be ready for off then’.

big red tractor dog

Just as well, that as bright as they are, border collies can’t quite mange the clutch and the handbrake as well as the accelerator. A working dog has no time for idle chat and needs to put his paw down firmly from time to time.

 

* I will eventually get around to telling the full story of our magical heating system


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Bright Woollen Things

A visit to the haberdashery shop was in order this morning. The only problem being, apart from the  miserable driving sleet and rain, that my vision for craft projects always manages to exceed  both my skills level and available time. But buying such stuff is always fun.

I found myself drawn to some exquisitely soft  merino yarn, especially the moss green shade.

wool

‘I don’t know why I’m looking at this’ I said to the assistant, ‘I can’t even knit’.

‘Oh you don’t knit with it!’ she exclaimed ‘You just put it in a basket, and stroke it occasionally, its all you need to do’.

I’ve obviously been missing a trick.


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Headspanner

Well I made it, I ducked in under the wire on the very last day of the exhibition Brains. The Mind as Matter. So glad I did.

As I set out Mr Uphilldowndale asked ‘Where is it you’re going?’ (in that husband and wife way that says we’ve may have been talking to one another all week but were we listening?)  ‘I’m going to see an exhibition about the brain, a mixture of science and art’ I replied. ‘Can you mix the two?’ he asked (I hoped he was jesting, as Leonardo Da Vinci seemed to manage it OK). ‘It’s at the Museum of Science and Industry’ I told him. ‘Ahh that’s OK then’ he replied. Ever the engineer. 

 

My favourite  art exhibit was by Katherine Dowson*  My Soul 2005 no photograph I can find does really does it justice.  Laser etched in  two blocks of glass,  it shimmered like a mirage, now you see it now you don’t . Now you understand it now you don’t,

 

 

 

Wellcome Trust employee Zoe Middleton poses for the media by a work entitled 'My Soul' by artist Katherine Dawson, that is a laser etched in lead crystal glass of the artist's own MRI scan, at an exhibition call 'Brains -The Mind as Matter' at the Wellcome Collection in London, Tuesday, March, 27, 2012. The free exhibition is open to the public from March 29- June 17. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

 

Many of the exhibits were human remains and the advisory age was 14years + given the sensitive nature of some items. However, there were plenty of younger children in the gallery, which wasn’t a problem, although I noted some of kids looked like they were being primed very early for a career in medicine, and  hat they may have been happier,doing a post-mortem on a bit of road kill in the garden shed, with a junior hacksaw set, rather than having every detailed label read to them.

 

Whilst I was at ease with the human exhibits,  and fascinated by the craftsmanship, and beauty of centuries old moulage,  what I found deeply moving  were the sections of the exhibition given to over to both ‘giving and taking’.

Taking, the horror of the children  and adults murdered by the Nazis under a policy of euthanasia, some 120 000 people killed, those with apparent hereditary disease or deemed to be feeble in mind and body. The doctors who perpetrated such acts and then who then went on to have successful medical careers after the war, could only give rise to disgust.

Giving, the compassionate and telling photographic portraits  by Ania Dabrowska of those who had decided to donate their brain to medical science.  This brought very personal emotions, as my father in law who died earlier  this year left his body to medical science.

 

 

Albert Webb wearing a jumper he knitted himself, depicting his late dog Lucy.  Photo Ania Dabrowska

 

The exhibition is now closed, the book however isn’t and of course the mind, our magnificent, wondrous minds, should always be open. What could be more precious.

A thought provoking day.

 

*What I didn’t at first realise was that Katherine Dowson’s work was based on her own brain scan, part of a research project into dyslexia, her work on this subject, well, lets just say it speaks to me…


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Friends Old and New

Happy New Year dear blog buddies.

I don’t know about you, but it’s  a while since I’ve seen a  nice sunset, here is one from stock,  just to tide us over until this relentless wind and rain abates.

three trees december

 

I’m delighted to see that our dear friend Gerry has reappeared on the blog scene, I’ve missed her  wisdom, musings and whimsy so very much.

 

WordPress provided me with their  annual number crunching review of my blog, the gist of the ‘feedback sandwich’ was that 2013 wasn’t a vintage year for my blog. But then, I knew that.

 

I’ve been missing my blogging opportunities, and have resolved to ‘do better’ in 2014. Not because blogging is something I ‘should do’ but something I want to do,  my life is richer for it. I’ll need to get out more, in real world mode and in blogging mode.  So with that in mind, this weekend I’m aiming to zip off into Manchester, to catch, an exhibition by the skin of its teeth (it ends on 4th of Jan, just missing an exhibition is a reoccurring theme in my life). It’s ‘no photography allowed’ but as it  entitled  ‘Brains. The Mind as Matter’ I’m sure it will give me something to think about.

 

I’ve taken stroll out around the blogging world too, over the holiday, and fell upon this delicious blog, enjoy.


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Have Crab Will Travel

Mr Uphilldowndale and I found ourselves down at the fish quay in Salcombe one morning. It was a bit of an eye opener.

Salcombe crab live export 2

 

There aren’t the vast numbers of fishing boats I imagine there were in years gone by. But none the less there  was frenetic industry.

One boat was tied up at the quay, The Emma Jane, her crew of six were busy unloading some  their catch of crab in to floating ‘fish boxes’ and getting ready to sail.

 

Unloading Crabs

She goes out for up to six days at a time, and her catch of crab and lobsters are kept alive and in good condition in vivier tanks on board (more about that in a moment).

 

In addition a larger floating fish box was being unloaded of its live cargo.

Some crabs seemed not best pleased and were making a break for freedom.

 

I'm out of here!

 

We were a little stunned at the quantity of crabs ( this isn’t just one layer of crabs, there are  many many more below). The box had been hauled up the slipway (or maybe the tide had fallen as they worked, who am I to know about such things, I live about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK. I just imagine it’s best to work with the tide not against it).

 

Salcombe crab Live export-2

 

We were also surprised to see that the crabs, once out of the fish box and weighed were put into a articulated lorry, with vivier tanks  of well oxygenated sea water (vivier means ‘fish tank’) 

 

Salcombe crab live export

to keep them alive and in tip top condition for their onward journey to Portugal, yes Portugal, mind they could have also have gone to France Spain, Hong Kong and mainland China. You can see the size of the floating fish box in the shot above.

 

Salcombe crabs are obviously a very valuable catch, they are also very labour intensive one.  We were told by harbour staff they are caught in crab pots, the muscle in their main claw is cut to stop them attacking each other in the fish box. The smaller fishing boats return each day with their catch and add them to the fish box.

 

Salcombe crab Live export3

 

The aim is to keep them in the fish box the minimum amount of time possible as they are not feeding whilst in the box.

 

Unloading Crabs into floating box

 

And if you are wondering what happens to all those crab shells, in a moment of serendipity, I stumbled across the answer today, when looking for felting wool, who would have thought it; apparently you can make fibre from the chitosan in the shells. not to mention anti-fungal treatments for seeds and in medical dressings to reduce bleeding.  My, blogging is so educational.


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Meadow Hay

It seems hard to believe that it was only Wednesday morning that Mr Uphillldowndale and I took a turn around the field wearing Wellington boots, the meadow grass was flattened to the ground,

Wet grass 2

 

by the weight of rain that had fallen over night. 

Wet grass

 

Jammy the kitten cat got wet feet,  he was unimpressed and protested loudly, and completed the rest of the walk along the wall.

 

Jammy wet feet

 

Spud, well, he was just  Spud,

 

wet springer spaniel_

 

By late afternoon the sun had come out, our neighbouring farmer had come along and mown the grass, he obviously knew what the forecast had in store. Because since then it has been wall to wall warmth and long sunny days, by this afternoon, the grass had been rowed up and bailed, job done.

 

In a previous post I mentioned not really knowing what made a ‘traditional meadow’, then by chance I heard Jim Dixon, The Peak District National Park Chief Executive  (his blog is here) being interviewed on BBC radio Derby, on the very subject.  The roll call of species should include buttercups, yellow rattle and pink clover we have lots of those!

 

Natural Meadow Derbyshire_

 

So the surrounding fields are now empty, Spud the dog will be able to find his ball.

 

Spud hay field_

 

Since the fields have been mown there has been a forlorn curlew banking around the fields and across the valley, calling  plaintively. I suspect it might have lost it’s nest to the mower;

 

Curlew_

 

I’m surprised, I didn’t know it was there, I hadn’t seen any curlews around on a regular basis since spring.   Most curlews around here are up on the higher, rough pastures, where there are nests and young will not be disturbed by the pressures of making hay while the sun shine and  the timeline that dictates  commercial farming. Sad.  It wouldn’t have been done intentionally of that I’m sure.  As Jim Dixon mentioned in his interview,  in trying to preserve traditional meadows we are asking farmers to be ‘farmers, factories and museums’. It’s not easy.


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Where’ve You Been?

Daisy

 

Apologies for my absence, many things have been happening around here. Including a game akin to ‘musical chairs’ with computers, it all started with an upgrade to the photo editing software I use for my images, Lightroom: only to find my laptop had not the brain to cope with such a new fangled thing.

Fortunately Mr Uphildowndale is  a bit nifty at sorting such matters. I write this post at his desk, where his computer is linked to  both my old laptop and what was Tom’s laptop (soon to be mine, Tom gets a new one ready for his studies) and it is humming away shifting ‘stuff’ from one place to another. It’s all beyond me.  All I know is it may take some time.

 

What was simpler and swifter to action was the move of my RSS feed from Google Reader to WordPress, that was a breeze and I managed it all on my own.  I’d been rather tardy at bothering to seek out Google Reader of late, it was a bit of a faff,  I can now see that with all my favourite blogs in one place there is a much better chance of keeping up with things and catching up with old friends.  Talk soon.


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Family Tree

We spent yesterday morning felling a tree. We’ve had chainsaw adventures before, but this was a different beast to slay. Mainly because of its proximity to the house, the oil tank, two drystone walls, the telephone line and us! Also to be factored in to the equation was the size of the tree, 44 feet.

Christmas tree 2-1

It was a carefully researched mission, there was only one way it could fall.

There was much measuring of angles, a rope attached with a couple of strapping teenagers hanging on the end.

Christmas tree 3-1

A ‘cheese’ taken out of the trunk, some strategic cuts and then, with some tugging, down she came.

Christmas tree 4-1

It is hard to remember that when we first moved into the house,  this tree was so small we used to drape the it with lights at Christmas, an exercise that needed no ladders.

Christmas tree 5-1

 

Christmas tree 7-1

It was quite a nerve wracking task. The boys were quite giddy when the mission was accomplished.

giddy-1 

By the end of the morning, we’d worked it down to just the ‘spine’.

Christmas tree 11-1

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