Uphilldowndale

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


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School of Magic

Amongst the many events of summer;  Tom graduated…. 

Grad bears

Tom’s graduation was a lovely day, we can’t quite believe how quickly three years have passed, its all been rather angst free for Mr Uphilldowndale and I.

Bangor University is in a lovely part of the world, the older buildings do have a Hogwarts look about them. Tom has found a it a magical place to study climb’ surf and ride!

Bangor uni_

He has plans to go traveling, New Zealand and Canada are high on his list. For the moment he is closer to home, we’re not sure where though, just some where, in our camper van


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Turn of the tern

Belatedly, it is back to the Farne Isles, and it’s the turn of the tern, the artic terns.  They seem to build ridiculously  scant nests,  not so much a nest, as outline planning permission for one.

Tern nest

Some don’t  seem to bother with even that much effort, when there is a footpath available (see bottom left of this photo).

What no nest_

But they are not any old terns, one at least is a record breaker

Tiny bird flies 59,650 miles from its breeding grounds in Farne Islands in the UK to Antarctica and back again, clocking the longest ever migration recorded

They are feisty in defence of their nests…

Tern attack

Mr Uphilldowndale had borrowed my hat, a hat designed for snugness rather than its bird deflection properties.

Tern attack 3_

The birds are protected and nurtured on the Farne Isles, and we felt very privileged to get so close to them, but we did wonder how much energy they were putting into attempting to ‘see off’ the endless stream of visitors…   They must be grateful for the days when the weather is too rough for the tourist boats to land.

Tern attack two


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Ghost Soldiers and Bird Song

I went to our  local park today, to the war memorial where there was a service to commemorate the  anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme.

I have to say the blowing of a whistle at the start of the service, chilled my blood. What a thought, that 19,420  lives were lost that day.

On 1st July 1916 at 07.30am, whistles blew all along the British front line driving thousands of troops out of the trenches into No Man’s Land as the Battle of the Somme began.

The park was built as a memorial to those who lost  their lives during World War I, and during the two minutes silence I was struck by the sweet scent of roses drifting up from the flower beds and the bird song from the surrounding, and now mighty trees. I could pick out the cheeky chatter of long tailed tits

Long-tailed tit, windy day

Birdsong must have been the last thing the soldiers heard before the guns

From Bivouacs by Gilbert Waterhouse

In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.

It was very moving, and I don’t think had I seen these  ‘ghost soldiers’ today, moving speechlessly through our cities, each one  simply carrying a card with the name and age of a soldier they represented. I could have helped but shed a tear. What a powerful piece of art.

'Ghost Tommies' at Waterloo Station in London


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A throning, or a party by any other name

I’ve a string of posts to deliver,  I’m behind schedule, I’ve been distracted; they are going to tumble out randomly, it seems to match the mood of the nation!

You’d be hard pressed to call where I live a street, but it didn’t stop us having a street party to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday a few weeks ago.

There were a lot of planning meetings (Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you  what I mean by this, is that there was a lot of drinking of prosecco  on Sunday afternoons for the previous month) I’ll tell you the planning was just as sociable as the party.  We then went on holiday and left the neighbours to all the hard work, arriving back in time for the sound of popping corks.  They did a fab job, we had  music,  flowers, porta-loos, road closed signs, bollards and bunting, a proper party.

Road Closed_

We even had very official notices to close the road, who could resist a throning of neighbours?

Thronging_

 

Thronging 2

We didn’t divert any carts as far as we know, a few cyclists and a couple of walkers meandered through the tables, most took  the diversion in good  heart.

We brought out the finest vintage food (the ‘food miles’ of some of it could be measured in inches rather than miles)

pickle

Ate proper pie (Yorkshire pie, brought over the county boundary under special licence).

proper pie

I may have mentioned the prosecco before

drinks

So many cakes

cake

and a few gate crashers.

Gate crasher Moo over

We raised money for charity too, we are very lucky to have such lovely neighbours…


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Unidentified Emotions

As a friend put it on Friday, in the wake of the EU referendum results ‘I’m experiencing emotions I can’t name, I certainly haven’t felt them before’.

Politics isn’t something I’d normally mention here, but the referendum and  decision  for the UK to leave the EU is to big to walk on by.  I’m gutted. Horrified. Sad and bitterly disappointed for my boys. A few of those unidentifiable emotions my friend mentioned are swilling around in the mix too.

A conversation I overheard, seemed to me, to capture the fact that many folk hadn’t got a handle on the chain of events voting ‘leave’ would set in motion.

First women. ‘My son says Nando’s are leaving the UK because of Brexit

Second women. ‘Oh my god, you’d think it was the end of the world, all we did was put a cross in a box on a bit of paper!’

I wasn’t sure if to laugh or cry, so I  just stood in front of the newspaper stand in crushing bewilderment.

Mr Uphilldowndale and I were set to go to Loweswater, in Cumbria on Friday, in preparation  for Daz’s Memorial  fell race.  We didn’t like going and leaving Joe home alone, he’d been up all night watching the results come in and was as down as we were; but Spud the dog stayed at home to keep him company, as ironically Tom is away, in Europe, working (we cast a proxy vote on his behalf).

 

We stopped by at Dodds Wood and climbed up to the viewing point to see the osprey’s  this  and a walk in the woods did us good and soothed our souls a little.

What now

The next day I had chance to contemplate the hills and some of the many emotional events of the last few weeks, and some of those emotions spilt out. The sheep was my confidante .

Don't ask me. I didn't vote._

What more can I say.

Tek Care