Uphilldowndale

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


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N is for nurse

For me part of trying to understand the Great War is about trying to understand the social norms of the time. 

N are the nurses-103001

And what was ‘the norm’ seems  strange and sometimes abhorrent now.  Attitudes to gender, race, class,  the fate of those that were shot at dawn, for cowardice, for what now would have been recognised as shell shock.

Both Mr Uphilldowndale and I have family that were either medical orderlies or medics,  my great uncle is on the far left of this photo, I’m assuming he would have served with the Sherwood Foresters regiment, but I’m not sure. (If any passing reader can tell me anything about when and where this photo was taken, please do, as there is not detail written on the back).

WW1 Medical

It was when I saw the bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery  that was used as am advanced dressing station the grim reality of the conditions hit me. Confined and claustrophobic,  the stream of catastrophically wounded soldiers that passed under its gas curtain is an unbearable thought. 

It is the grim reality that adjacent to the advanced dressing stations were the hastily dug graves, that became the last resting place of many of the casualties. I suppose at least these guys had a marked grave.  Small mercies.

Women weren’t allowed this close to the front, they were further back in the evacuation line, which was all things considered very sophisticated, and necessity being the mother of invention the Great War led to many medical advances that we take for granted today. But at such a cost.

Nurse Nellie Spindler was one of only two women to be killed and buried in Belgium during the Great War, she was a Yorkshire lass.

Watch and listen here

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Weather Window

Last week we took a couple of nights away, in the Lake District. It’s hard to believe looking at the weather today.

We’ve got the campervan geared up for cold weather, it has a very effective diesel heater and we’d chosen a site with a hook up for power. The Quiet Site,  was perfect for our needs, one of those neatly run sites that keeps everything running smoothly with out being too officious about it and a very toasty shower block was always going to win me over. 

Another bonus was that the site bar was open, being ‘out of season’ we weren’t expecting that . Winter campervanning can be snug and cosy, but it does get a bit tomb like, so a nice beer in front of a roaring fire, just a few yards from the van was as welcome as it was sociable.

 The Quiet Site-194846

Mr Uphilldowndale entertained himself with a bike ride up The Struggle and over Kirkstone Pass the highest major road in the Lake district,  I mooched  around with the camera; we were equally content.

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Ullswater

We both took a stroll by lake Windermere,  having visited the wonderful Blackwell House,  I’ll post about it.

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Windermere

Did you know  that lake Windermere had not one but two very early airfields?

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The The start of seaplane flying in Britain can be traced to Lake Windermere, where H. Stanley Adams first became airborne in the Lakes Waterbird floatplane on 25 November 1911.

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One man and his dog, Windermere


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Where the wind blows

We are still awaiting the return of of our telephone connection, storm Doris seems such a long time ago now.  We’ve all been juggling with our mobile data quota, I have a long to-do list on my desk.  Mr Uphilldowndale has spent a lot of time listening to the  ‘music’ whilst awaiting a conversation with Plusnet. Their service isn’t what it once was.

We left it all behind and went to south Wales to see Joe, and spent a couple of nights on the Gower, we’ve been there before.

Looks like they get proper windy weather, all the time.

Where the wind blows_

We had a lovely walk along the coast path to Rhossili 

Coast path Rhossili

and enjoyed a welcome beer over looking the bay. I thought it might be a bit cool sat outside with Spud the dog, but the wind dropped and the sun broke through warming our backs. It was delightful.

beer_


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Gale Mill

Dark and Satanic*, or Warm and Welcoming?

I can’t quite make my mind up. This is  the wonderfully restored and  preserved, Gale Mill in the Yorkshire Dales;  it was late  afternoon in November  and the light was fading.

Gayle Mill 2

There had been heavy rain the day before, and the river was thundering by.  The roads were awash.

Rivers were not to be messed with.

Langstrothdale

And then there was the snow, we’d chosen quite a high route to get to Gale and Hawes, but traveling in the campervan, we decided discretion was the better part of valour, turned around and took the low route instead!

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In the end the snow didn’t become a problem, but the local highways department were in a state of preparedness…

Gayle 2

I was glad we were in the campervan and not camping!

Not camping_

I’m also glad we spent money on  a diesel heater for the van,  rather than spending the money on a van in any other colour than white, which comes at a premium. We were snug as bugs.

snow van 2

* Dark and satanic mills, might not be what I always thought they were!


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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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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.

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