Uphilldowndale

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


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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.

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All I can say is it certainly seems to be flourishing

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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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More Snow Forecast

It was heading for dusk when I drove over Peep o’ Day today. It remains cold and icy around here, and the forecast is for snow again tonight.

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Time to tend to the livestock and head indoors, the lights were already going on across the valley.

 

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The delightful name of Peep o’ Day, comes from the name of the farm house at the top of the hill, named I’m told because of it’s small window, that faces due east, and catches the first rays of the morning sun, at peep of day… that’s what my mum told me so it must be true. (You can stay there is you like). Oh and if you do come to stay; do this


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Frosted Fizz

A sharp frost overnight gave the great outdoors a bit of a boost this morning.

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The garden was lifted from its damp decay.

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And the field effervesced

frosted leaf 

The remains of the field maple glowed in the cold.

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And a spiders web was frosted filigree

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Whilst the hedgerow was barbed with ice.

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As a family we’ve come close to hibernation over the last couple of weeks,  I think we all needed it. I’m feeling torn now, between wanting to regain some semblance of routine back to my life, or staying in my cosy little world. Sigh.


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An afternoon with added value

Yesterday morning, it rained and rained, it was hard to imagine anything much could be salvaged from the day, but I was wrong, about two PM the clouds parted and the sun shone through. I grabbed the camera and shot off to Mam Tor, we’ve been there before. The sun gods turned on the charm.

Top of Winats Pass

and gave me a much needed blast of lumens, to keep the blues away.

The Edale valley.

Edale

came complete with a bedraggled looking film crew, something to do with a man on a bike, but more than that I can’t tell you

Edale film crew

Love how the bonfire smoke is flowing off down the valley.

Rushop Edge

The reason for my visit was that I’d been to a presentation about the geology and scenery of the Northern Peak District,hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust; and I wanted to see if I could identify some of the features I’d heard about. However an added bonus was an encounter with a stoat

Stoat 3

He bounded along by a nearby wall (stoats bound, weasels hunker down to the ground)  at times  airborne

 Stoat 

it looked in good form, weaving in and out of the tussocky grass

Stoat 4

its coat had a conker gloss

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In the end it was chased off by a rook, and it slunk away under a fence in to a marshy field (you can just see the stoat by the fence post).

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Well that was an unexpected treat.

By the time I worked my way back to the car, the sun was low enough to catch the marsh grasses,

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and some very large puddles,

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I’d have been wise to take a change of footwear.


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Exotic Blooms

One of the many things I didn’t get around to posting this summer, was the unexpected arrival of an orchid in the garden. Strange but true. I’ve never ever seen them growing locally, and there it was. I was gazing  out of the window in my default absent minded sort of way, when it jumped up and went boo! The house is cut into the hillside, so from windows at the rear of the house, the view is eye level with the lawn.

And there it was, a solitary pink spike of bloom, catching the last of the evening sun.

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Just a bit special, do you not think? Is it a marsh orchid?

Orchid 1

I felt rather honoured that it had taken up residency with us; but mystified as to how it arrived.

Orchid 2

Maybe there are many more out there, that we keep slicing the blooms off with the lawn mower.

We’ve had a lot of men in big boots about the place over the last few months, one of the reasons for the dearth of posts of late. But the orchid has been afforded special protection,

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I can report it has survived and gone to seed, and perhaps inspired by a very special visit to the Millennium Seed Bank (another post in waiting) I thought I’d have a go at propagating the seed.  However think I’m out of my propagation league, it seems far more complicated than the lovely marigold seeds Flighty sent me.

 

From the Hardy Orchid Society…

Seed sowing at home

Many members of HOS sow orchid seed in home laboratories (otherwise known as kitchens or spare rooms) with some success! Various back issues of the HOS Newsletter give excellent detailed advice on how to get started. The following items need to be considered.

Sterile working area: A HEPA filtered laminar flow cabinet is ideal – but hardly likely to be accessible to beginners. Try rigging up a ‘glove box’ or a modified fish tank on its side. See see HOS Newsletter issue 3.

Autoclave: A pressure cooker to sterilise everything.

Germination/Growing medium: There are two distinct types:

1. Medium based on agar gel and porridge oats with suitable fungi (symbiotic growth).

2. Medium based on agar gel containing nutrients to be used without fungi.

 

Maybe I’ll just let nature take its course.

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