Uphilldowndale

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


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Let it Snow

How much and when, that’s what we want to know.

Snow is forecast for tomorrow, but I have one request of the snow clouds, could they please  dump their load during the night so that we don’t have the usual palaver in the morning before the school run, all the questions, all the unknowns;  Is there  just too much snow, so there is no point even setting out? can we get over the top road or will the snow have drifted?, can we get out of the lane?, will the snow plough have been on the squiggly road yet? do we take the lowland route and spend three hours in a traffic jam?

Of course when I was a kid we had real snow, proper deep snow and  this is just what the boys are hoping for.

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but I suspect that when I was a child  that just as not every summer holiday was golden sunshine for six weeks, as I remember it( this is the only photo you will ever see of me in swim suit) nor was every winter waist deep in snow (or head height if your only three.) but the memory plays tricks,  but I am sure there was more snow than there is nowadays  and most of it went in my Wellington boots, but then again we walked to the village school and my boots weren’t very high.

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On the rocks

A few bright days, all be it extremely cold and very windy (shame I can’t share the wind chill with you)

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After so many wet and miserable weeks it’s brought everyone out and about: it was late afternoon when I came across this chap, scampering up the rocks.

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Free climbing without ropes or helmet, and on his own, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he were to fall (little miss anxious, that’s me!) I just had visions of him being found the next day at the foot of the rocks, as stiff as a board with a carrion crow sat on his chest; but I am sure he knows what he’s doing and maybe some one was expecting him home for tea.

He didn’t seem to mind being photographed, (I’d never make a photo journalist, I feel far to self conscious taking photos of people.) He even paused to pose before his descent,

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What this shot doesn’t show (and this is another reason I’ll never be a photo journalist) is a that gust of wind that nearly tipped him over the edge, he regained his balance with a some windmill arm movements, and confessed when he got down ‘I was trying to look cool, it didn’t work did it?’ no, but he was a good sport. I wondered how he managed to keep enough dexterity in his fingers to hold on the rock, he acknowledged he had to spend a few some time warming his hands in ski gloves, before being able to climb back up again.

But as for the perceived danger of the sport, I have to confess it’s me that’s fallen flat on my face twice, whilst out and about with the camera in last the few months, so maybe its me the crows got its eye on.

That was the tail end of last week, today the weather is not so bright and beautiful, the wind is gusting over 40mph, rain in being blown under the back door, the bathroom curtains are swaying in the draught and rain is leaking in around Tom’s bedroom window, snow is forecast for tomorrow. (edit 08:23 add to that list, thunder lightning and hail)


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It’s the bells

On a Sunday morning there is no finer place to be than our garden, especially if the weather is nice as it was yesterday.

The ultimate time to be in amongst the flower beds is at 10:45, this is because  that’s when you can hear the church bells from across the valley, now I am not a religious person, but there is something about their peel that is special to me, and this is enhanced if I am digging planting or weeding, I think its something to do with continuity and the passage of time but I can’t  be sure; the church tower is Norman, so the bells have been ringing on Sunday mornings for a long, long time. If you stand at the top of our garden, you can just about see the top of the church tower and its flagstaff, the best part of a mile away as the crow flies, but it’s not always been so, a few hundred years ago it was the foresters not the farmers or the gardeners that would have heard the peel of the bells, but not seen the tower, for this area would have been forest, a very different landscape than today.

The weather stayed good all day and I took a walk round the hill just before dusk

Hawthorne tree dusk

The rooks were gathering ready to roost for the night, like they do, and have always have done, for a long, long time, long before the church bells told any one it was Sunday

Rooks dusk 1

 

 

 


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Off Piste

It was a case of no snow, not the wrong kind of snow.

Out and about this week I came across this gentleman, with a nifty way of getting about.

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He is in training for a 50m cross country ski race in France, to build up his stamina he goes out like this one day and runs the next, It was very kind of him to explain, he was a bit out of breath as he had just ‘skied’ up this hill, (my kind of skiing has always been of the ‘down hill only’ variety and included lots of stops for hot chocolate.)

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The hills gradient is 1:7 and what is now road was once a railway track, with a stationary steam engine at the summit, the engine was used to haul the trucks up the incline, it was built in 1831, to link two canal systems. Could I get up that hill in these shoes? I don’t think so!

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But I have to say this is a wicked hill to sledge down, especially on either a plastic bivvy bag or a fertiliser sack, I know I have done it and Tom found it rather an exciting run on his mountain bike, in what was not a totally controlled decent, it was miraculous that both he and the bike arrived at and got round the bend at the bottom together.


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Waiting for the light

Waiting fo the llight

I was so excited when this morning dawned and it wasn’t lashing with rain, just a shame I can’t share with you the smell of wood smoke, coming from the chimney in this photo, that was rather nice too.

 

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In the field, the sharp frost had made a crisp, granular topping to the squelchy sodden turf, it was a bit like putting your foot through the sugary bit on to of a Madeira cake, before sinking into the soft cake underneath.

Must go, late for work and the car needs defrosting and the lanes are treacherous with black ice, making them no place to hurry.

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A bird of very little brain

It doesn’t seem the most sensible place to lay an egg, on a windy, exposed window ledge,

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seven feet above the flagstones.

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Especially when there is a snug nest box with nice clean bedding available, but the two Warrens, ‘thing one’ and ‘thing two’, have always been mavericks.

After all the programs about chicken production over the last week or so, there has been much debate about domestic poultry keeping, Hedge Wizard tells you how to go about it here, the pros and the cons, where as

Stonehead is more cautious.

You certainly need to give the idea, careful consideration, in the same way as you would before taking on a pet dog.

We have chickens and a dog, the chickens, even the maverick ones, are a breeze compared to the dog, but that may say more about the dog than chickens.