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


Overdue Library Books

It occurs to me that I never completed my little jolly around the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Snow and life, came and went.

The building is a sandstone confection (Cumbrian sandstone I believe)

sandstone fan -1

The detail is everywhere.

Boss birds-1

Copious quantities of leaded glass

glass 2-1

Cavernous corridors

John Rylands -1

Oak carved to linen folds

linen folds -1

Vibrant Victorian shades

painted glass-1

There is more, to follow.



Winter Walk

Nothing finer than a  winter walk for  the restoration of equilibrium, Mr Uphilldowndale and I were both in need the other afternoon. We went down by the river, always a good move.

Riverside walk-1

Up through the woods and across the fields.

late afternoon walk-1

Spud had a high old time, you can just see him here, heading off  towards a rather handsome wall, that’s topped with snow.

late afternoon walk 1-1

At the moment freezing rain is hammering against the windows and the rising wind has been piling snow back into the lanes this afternoon. The forecast is for the weather to get warmer over the weekend and for the snow to melt; we’ll be glad to see the back of it for a while I think. The weather conditions have led to tragedy.

We walked back past the church, not a bat or a bear in sight.

late afternoon walk church -1

I saw some photos of ‘ zombie snowmen’ in the press this week, I had to admire the skill in their making, their location was described as a disused graveyard in Bristol,  it led me to wonder, how can  graveyard be disused? Its not like a factory is it? Isn’t always going to be ‘in use’ by its residents?


Not So Blue Monday

It was more white than blue around here; well, white with a dollop of grey. I walked to work.

Walking to work-1

This view is never blue, the myth of today being blue Monday can be explored here.

Walking was easier and safer than driving, I was passed en-route by one of the local farmers who is contracted to go out and plough the lanes. (He is straight talking about those who drive the lanes when they should know better)  I thought he might offer me a lift but he ploughed by with a cheery wave, but then he’d probably assumed I was just out with the camera having a photo jolly rather than commuting, it’s an easy mistake to make.

But I was grateful for his work, it made the walk easier, that and my Yaktrax

Walking to work 2-1 

I passed by a flock of sheep, who seemed reluctant to rise from their slumbers, maybe they think it is blue Monday?

Some had hunkered down in the lea of a bank.

sleepy sheep-1

All were snowy

sleepy sheep 2-1


The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, 20th Jan 2013

Spud likes the snow, he even manages to look tidy in it.

Spud pristine -1

Snow is more user friendly to a dog than mud. (Did I ever tell you about the time an neighbours Chow Chow dog, wallowed in the outfall from our septic tank, one hot summers afternoon? There is mud and there is mud, there are muddy dogs and there are muddy muddy smelly dogs.)

Snow is a new adventure for Jammy and Dodger the kitten- cats


But, at the end of the day, keeping snug and securing the lions share of the sofa is the priority.



‘Mum! The cats have got a mouse in the porch!’ Said the boys.

‘Well go and get it off them then’. said I.

No one volunteered.

Ever helpful, Spud the dog stuck his head out through the cat flap, from the kitchen into the porch, and stretched as far as he could, and a bit more besides. He plucked the now deceased rodent from off the door mat in the porch and brought it back through the cat flap into the kitchen and presented it to me.

‘Well thank you Spud, what a helpful doggy you are!’ Now what do I do with it?


Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

snow covered sheep -1

They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

contented sheep -1 

It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

Wind from the east-1

I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

heading out of the wind-1

He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

cold nose sheep-1

We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)


Cold Paws

We are still here, waiting for the snow to come. It’s forecast.

Today the temperature has hovered around freezing. it has been nippy to the paws. Jammy the kitten-cat was not impressed (Spud the dog just loves everything the weather can throw at him, Spud the all weather dog).

Frosty cat paw-1 

Tom is not impressed, he has an exam tomorrow and he is fretting about getting over the hills to school. This I explained is what being a grown up is about, as a boy, snow was about sledging, snowballs and wet wellington boots. Now ‘snow days’ have a bit more riding on them.


Nimble Fingers

Detail from a statue of  Enriqueta Rylands at the John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre. John Rylands 2-1

Even given the graininess of this image I find the detail amazing, the knuckles, the sinews, the muscles all carved from stone. I wonder what the sculptor would make of the amazing hand transplant that has made the news here in the UK.

Enriqueta presides over the reading room of the library, that she founded in memory of her husband,

John Rylands 8-1 

many things in society may have changed with the passing of time but the fabric of the library is as it was in 1900 when the library opened to readers.

reading room john Rylands -1

I can’t help but muse on the fact that the current exhibition housed in the glass cabinets at her feet  is entitled Fifty Years of Clockwork Orange would surely be enough to to bring a blush to those blanched  Victorian cheeks. Goodness from her vantage point she can even see The Rocking Machine 

The John Rylands Library allows and encourages photography (no tripods, no flash) and invites its visitors to share their images on Flickr. They also make a very decent brew of tea in the cafe, at £2.50 for a pot for two we thought it a city centre bargain. Mr Uphilldowndale and I didn’t have long to linger, I’d like to pop back one day to take some photos that are a little more considered, I’ll add it to the list.