Uphilldowndale

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


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Shooting the Sun

Point and shoot obviously, I wasn’t going to look directly at a solar eclipse

Eclipse 

Whilst the light changed, the birds carried on about their business,

Eclipse blue tit

it didn’t seem as dramatic as the one in 1998 which I watched with Mum,

Mum in the Moon

it was the shadows I remember most vividly on that occasion.

 

It made me think of a favourite poem, by Roger McGough

 

Everyday eclipses

Roger McGough

 


The hamburger flipped across the face of the bun

The frisbee winning the race against its own shadow

The cricket ball dropping for six in front of the church clock

On a golden plate, a host of communion wafers

The brown contact lens sliding across the blue iris

The palming of small change

Everyday eclipses

Out of the frying pan, the tossed pancake orbits the Chinese lampshade

The water bucket echoing into the well, well, well

The lifebelt spinning past the open porthole

The black, snookering the cue ball against the green baize

The winning putt on the eighteenth

The tiddlywink twinking toward the tiddly cup

Everyday eclipses

Neck and neck in the hot air balloon race

Holding up her sign, the lollipop lady blots out the belisha beacons

The foaming tankard thumped on to the beer mat

The plug into the plughole

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Two thin slices; first salami, then mortadella

In the fruit bowl, the orange rolls in front of the peach.

Everyday eclipses another day

Goodbye bald patch, hello yarmulke

A sombrero tossed into the bullring

Leading the parade, the big bass drum.

We hear cymbals but cannot see them

One eclipse eclipses another eclipse

To the cold, white face, the oxygen mask.

But too late

One death eclipses another death

The baby’s head, the mother’s breast

The open O of the mouth seeking the warm O of the nipple

One birth eclipses another birth

Everyday eclipses.


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A Mothers Place is in the Shed

 

I’m the proud owner of my very own girl shed, workshop, studio, call it what you will: once it was a stable, and whilst we never kept a horse in it, we did keep a cow. Then it housed the lawn mower and Mr Uphilldowndale’s tools, and such like: now it has light, heat, hot and cold running water. The walls are smooth plaster over super cuddly insulated plasterboard.  Mr uphilldowndale has sourced a very nifty device which uses surplus electricity from our solar panels to heat it. I’m as snug as a bug in a rug, and very content.

The idea is that it  is my space for anything creative, my sewing machine, fabric and wool, the paints, inks and pencils that I seem to spend more time choosing than using.

I’m not fully settled in yet, but I had to unpack some treasures I’ve had stashed away since we cleared Mums house, a tobacco jar from my Dad’s garage, button boxes and bobbins, sort of a little still life arrangement, cum mothers day shrine, if you will; with some beautiful catkins. 

Mothersday collection

It was soothing to arrange a few things, simply for the pleasure of it, an antidote to the kitchen perhaps? (Heather would understand)

Kitchen Spud and Jammy 

I’m really not sure what I shall do in my new space. But I shall get creative and enjoy myself. (Did anyone watch The Big Painting Challenge on BBC2 tonight? Ouch those judges were savage… probably put more people off trying art than it encouraged. Shame.)


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Fortunate Finds

I’ve been squirreling away any little pieces of old crockery that have emerged during the building work (much to the amusement of some of the builders). I’ve had a fancy for a couple of decades now (you can’t rush these things) to make some sort of mosaic from the bits I’ve found…

Whilst most of it has been  Victorian blue and white pottery plus quite a lot of earthenware; some pieces stood, out as looking earlier.

slipware

I did a bit of rummaging around (AKA research)and found this delightful blog (which is sadly ‘resting’  as it is full of fascinating posts to be enjoyed) which would suggest it is indeed from the 17th or 18th century.

If I see our local museum is having a finds day, I’ll take them along and see what I can find out (they do write an interesting blog).

 

I’ve mentioned before that it is quite tricky to know just how old our house is. However a neighbour made a chance discovery, that a map of this area, from 1606 (yes sixteen hundred and six) rests in the National Archives at Kew.

He ordered a copy. It is delightful. I was so excited to see it, it was far more decorative and detailed than I imagined.

Map 1606

The detail, the trees, the gates and the fields (the boundaries of which we can still recognise) are carefully included. We can’t be sure our house is represented, as some of the detail doesn’t quite match up, but there were certainly homesteads nearby at that time. Maybe that is where the pottery out of ‘trench one’ came from. Who knows?

Map 1606 2

 

I think maps from this time must be quite scarce , apparently that this one survives results from the area, albeit in Derbyshire being part of the Duchy of Lancaster,  the map was drawn up in a land dispute, and forms part of their archives.

It has certainly whetted my appetite to try and find out more, when the dust settles.


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Bless This House

One of the reasons I’ve been absent from blogging  of late, is that we’ve had quite a big building project going on. I’ve no complaints about the guys working here, they’ve been great, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and you certainly can’t knock an old house about without some disruption, noise and dust. It’s a scheme of works we’ve been planning for a long time

Construction gets in your head space, making decisions and sourcing everything from light switches to windows, gobbles up a vast amount of time  energy and money.

We’ve tried to chose our building materials carefully, recycling where ever possible,

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trying to do justice to the existing building. In addition we’ve been bringing insulation up to a higher standard.  Here is Rocky the cockerel checking out the acoustics and the under floor heating ( which is heated by  ground source heat pump).

bless this house_

 

I was pleased when I found that we got to the ‘soft stuff,’  curtains, furniture, pot plants even. I went shopping at Ikea, at the checkout, I helped the Chinese couple in front of me in the queue to find the ubiquitous and ever useful Ikea ‘big blue bags’ I must have earned myself some good karma, for in return they explained that the house plant I had in my trolley was good feng shui for our home, and that it would bring us good fortune.

bless this house 2

All I can say is it certainly seems to be flourishing

good fortune 3

and I am indeed fortunate to have such a beautiful space, Spud and Jammy agree.

Ben Squeak_


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The Up’Ards and the Down’Ards

I don’t think I’ve ever brought you post about Ashbourne, I  really should, it has some very interesting buildings and history, that deserve a closer look than a cursory glance as I drive through (The A515 is not my favourite road, we have history, that road and I).

The nearest neighbour I’ve blogged about, is probably the lovely snowdrops at Hopton Hall which will be looking splendid, right now I guess.

 

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or  the rather eerie Magpie Mine.

Ashbourne has a very famous shrovetide football event, played by the Up’Ards and Down’Ards; it is not for the faint hearted. It laughs in the face of health and safety assessments.  Here is the history, and here is a contemporary account, from BBC RadioDerby.  I’ll stick to snowdrops.


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Domestic Upheaval

One of these days I’ll give you the full story, which must run to  a couple of dozen posts, but for this evening I’ll just say there has been a lot going on around here, especially for the last week; so much so that Dodger the kitten cat left home for three days, in disgust. His belly led him back, just as I’d drafted the ‘lost cat’ email to the neighbours. We are relieved to see him.

There have been moments of great beauty,  rolling mist framed by alpine blues, ebbing in and out of the valley

trees mist

 

Branches, twigs, encased in ice

oak apples

Oak apples

Ash tree ice_

An ash tree, where the ash keys once were.

But for the most part, it has been grey, muddy; and oh yes, very dusty. There is nothing quite like ancient dust, it has a  penetrating power of its own. The haze in this photo, is not poor image quality, oh no, it is dust.

This is the kitchen.

dusty kitchen_ 

can you see why my blog lies unattended?


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Sick of Snow?

Most people seem to be so, there’s still plenty of it about; there have been beautiful bright days; the sort of thing that would normally send me scurrying for my camera. snow landscape 3

But there have been a bit of a problem. Joe and I have had a nasty bout, of what we think was Norovirus,  not nice at all, I can tell you.

Joe was first down, in the small hours of Sunday morning. I followed on Monday night, I certainly don’t feel up to par yet. What can I tell you about Norovirus? Stay close to the bathroom, really work and get fluids down and I mean work, a pack of rehydration treatment in the medicine cupboard would be a good idea.

I went into quarantine in Tom’s room, rough as I felt, I did still love watching the light move across the snowy hills and the beautiful moonlit nights (I didn’t draw the curtains).

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and I did have some company.

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Spud and squeak were as interested in  warmth, sleep and comfort as I was.

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