Uphilldowndale

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


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Animal Tales

 

Where would the media be without a tale or two about animals, where would this blog be come to that, Spud the dog and his adventures always seem popular.

A couple of stories have caught my eye in the last week or so. Ahaaaa! I thought,you read that first on Uphilldowndale.

 

First there were reports of peacocks fighting their own reflections, yes we’ve covered that.

IMG_0665

 

Then there was a tractor driving sheep dog on the M74*, which caused only mayhem and not carnage, fortunately; and whilst the sheep dog featured here didn’t know about handbrakes,it did know how to ‘give it some welly’ 

 

The M74 has made it here before too.

 

Here are Spud and Dodger, its not news, because it happens on a regular basis, but it is usually entertaining.

Dodger the kitten cat,  claims ownership of Spud’s bed, Spud politely suggest he leaves.

spud bed

That doesn’t work, so he tries to squeeze him out.

spud bed 2

Nope, that’s not working, he tries pushing next.

spud bed 3

Eventually they agree to share.

spud bed 4


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Out on a Limb

Move over the frogs, the toads are coming to a pond near you…

toad swiming_

It was impossible to count, but I’m sure there must have been over a hundred. When we came home at dusk on Thursday night we had to abandon the car in the drive, we couldn’t have driven on without squashing them, they arriving from  every direction. I wonder how they know which direction to head.

Toads pond

They had no qualms about being disturbed  by humans or dogs. Spud just jumped in

Spud swimming with toads

And joined those looking for love

beautiful toad eyes _

This one was climbing back out, job done I suppose.

toad climbing_

It sat in the sun for quite a while,

toad grden

it was a very sunny day, I was getting a bit worried it might need some factor 50 sun cream, that skin  looks delicate.

I spotted one with only three legs. I wondered if it was a birth defect, or if it had lost a limb in some toady trauma. It amazes me how animals can seem to manage such an injury.

toad three legs_

It seemed to be coping just fine (and no, it didn’t swim round in circles).


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The Easter Bunny is Dead

Please don’t tell the children. When Mr Uphilldowndale opened the kitchen door yesterday morning, Jammy  the kitten-cat shot past with a baby rabbit in his mouth, he shot through the hall and jumped up on to the widow ledge where he hissed loudly and defensively over his catch. Sadly it was a very dead rabbit; not the sort of Easter gift we were hoping for.

 

Today the sun has shone, a beautiful spring day, there has been a frog fest going on up at the pond, Spud the dog found it very exciting

Spud frogs

Which wasn’t very helpful to me, trying to take frog photos.

I had to make do with them swimming below the surface.

frog 2

The bees were a bit more ‘up front’

 bee tulip

The chickens were a little too keen on eating my beautiful spring flowers

rocky and roxanne_

However, Roxanne the little black hen has surprised us all this week by laying three eggs. The first since she and Rocky moved in last September. Excellent.

eggs


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New Neighbours

We’ve new neighbours bouncing around in the field next door.

lamb_

They are as playful as spring lambs should be, doing their level best to do jumps with vertical take off; Tom commented ‘it’s just as well fully grown sheep don’t bounce around like that; the countryside would be mayhem’.

I always think their fleeces look two sizes too big for them at this age, a bit like the jumpers of school kids returning for the Autumn term.

I took these photos last week, when the sun shone, briefly.

sheep and lamb

This evening we have a weather warning for high winds, and rain is lashing down.The lambs have taken shelter in the lea of the walls, the ewes keep on with their relentless grazing, backs to the driving  rain. There are mouths to feed.


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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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