The last flight

We took a moment to stand in the field and watch as the Royal Airforce Plane flew over, on it’s journey south, from Edinburgh bearing the coffin of HRH Queen Elizabeth II to London

It’s a truism that no death stands in isolation, we each bring to it our other losses and grief.

Certainly, those I’ve loved and lost have been felt very keenly in the last few days.

Looking for a little shade

Most of the UK is experiencing a heatwave at the moment, I hope you’ve somewhere cool and comfortable to be. An old house with thick stone walls, small windows and perched on a hill, is a very fortunate place to be.

This is Chee Dale, a cool deep limestone dale in the White Pak area of the Peak district National Park.

A lovely walk

Stepping stones, to the left, tucked under the overhanging rock, keep your feet dry when water is more plentiful and look at those lovely limestone bedding planes to the right. We like a limestone landscape.

The path can be a bit of a scramble in parts, stout footwear is required, especially when wet, the limestone can be fiendishly slippery.

Communications Hub

We took the camper van out to stretch it’s legs, just a one nighter, not far, just a 30 minute drive into the White Peak, pretty much my old commute in days gone by. We’d made some repairs and alterations to the van since our last ‘big trip’ to Scotland in May, and we wanted to check things worked as intended, the leaky tap is no more, and the new fridge, has a TARDIS like capacity, it’s smaller than the old fridge and yet it can accommodate a four pint bottle of milk AND a bottle of wine in an upright position, no more fridge wrangling! Result.

And if that wasn’t enough van excitement, Mr Uphilldowndale used space gained by the smaller fridge to build a cutlery drawer. ‘Tis a thing of beauty, I’d share a video of me opening and closing it in sheer delight, if I’d fully mastered uploading videos on to this WordPress editor.

We visited the lovely village of Monyash had a delicious and leisurely brunch at The Old Smithy Cafe, a favourite coffee stop of Mr UHDD on his Sunday bike rides, we shared our table and travel tales with a motorbiking couple from the Midlands, before striking out to Chatsworth.

The village can attribute its existence, and its name, to water. Lying underneath the centre of the village is a narrow band of clay deposited during the Ice Age. This resulted in pools of standing water, a highly unusual feature in a limestone area. Over time meres (ponds) were fashioned into the clay by the villagers to provide a constant source of water. At one time the village had five meres and at least twenty wells providing the inhabitants and their livestock, as well as passing drovers, with a plentiful supply of water right up until recent times.

The centre of the village is always where the gossip is, here the now superseded phone box has been repurposed as a mini library, the post box still functions, but you won’t get as many collections these days. (At least this one hasn’t been stolen.) But it is still a place to stop for a chat.

Monyash Derbyshire

Through the stile into the small enclosure is a clue to how this spot must have been a meeting place for hundreds of years, with what we took to be a capped well

I rather liked the view back onto the village green, and much admired the worn stile, which would have kept the local livestock out of the village water source.

We take turning on the tap for fresh water so much for granted. Getting water, must have consumed so much time and energy, especially in this part of the Peak District, where the porous limestone gobbles up rivers and streams. I really shouldn’t complain about a leaky tap.

Moving meadows

The field, continues it’s journey into summer, never has it provided more pleasure than this year, and it’s always been a delight, but being on our doorstep, it is a wonderful distraction from the woes of the world.

The weather we have had since lock-down has made it quiet magical. So many insects and butterflies  After the heavy rain of the last few days, when the clouds clear and the sun breaks through, the bugs and butterflies rise up with the warmth from the ground. It makes me smile.

This was yesterdays treat, a dark green fritillary  

The name comes, if you are wondering, from the colour underneath the wing.

Fritillary_

They like to feed on knapweed 

Knapweed is a plant we introduced to the field, about eight or nine years ago, having had work done to remedy a problem from theoutflow of the septic tank ( sorry you weren’t expecting that were you?) we took the opportunity to reseed the area with a native wildflower seed mix,  some of the species decided the field wasn’t for them, but the knapweed liked the neighbourhood and flourished

knapweed

The bees are delighted.

knapweed 3

Run for home

It’s been nice to go out and about today, the weather broke over night and the temperature dropped to a more comfortable level than it has been for the last few days, it’s been necessary to dodge some heavy showers though.  Downpour dodging_

The last week has been a good weather window for the farmers, they’ve been able to cut their grass crop for winter fodder in without too much weather angst, today’s weather forecasting must make the task so much easier than it was for their forebears .

So there I was, admiring the colours and patterns of the freshly cut fields

Downpour dodging 3

and having a very nice time, until the wind suddenly picked up and I realised it had ‘gone a bit dark over Bill’s mothers’. 

Time to run for home, at least it was downhill! Downpour dodging 4

Socially Distanced

Maybe we should take a leaf (pun intended) out of the sycamore aphids book of social distancing.  They seem to have it sussed.

sycamore aphids 3 However, an Internet search* led me to discover it’s not about them being apart,  on the contrary, it’s actually about them being able to touch one another (but at least the little bugs have a plan how to deal with a life threatening situation and are sticking to it!)

One of the most striking features of the sycamore aphid is the way in which the individuals space themselves evenly under the leaf. the spacing is such that they are just close enough together to touch each other with their long antennae, so if an individual in one part of the leaf is attacked the alarm spreads from aphid to aphid in a wave of antennae-waving across the whole leaf.

Sycamore aphid

Just about every leaf I could see was covered in the aphids,  there must be millions of them; which probably explains why the blue tits, that consume a fortunes worth of food through the winter ( the bird food  bill comes in at more than  the cat and dog food budget combined) are not very bothered about cleaning the aphids off the roses in the garden, you’d think it was the least they could do?

*It’s rather gratifying to find the information you were looking for, in a blog you already follow, Cabinet of Curiosities  by Phil Gates, in addition to reading the authors words in The Country Diary in the Guardian too. 

 

Welcome

Sunshine and showers, heavy at times.

It’s been a relief to get some rain, after the exceptionally dry weather we’ve had since lock-down began.  Earlier in the year I’d high hopes for the foxgloves, the young plants were so abundant, they obviously loved the very wet early spring, its hard to please everyone. But after the dry spell they were starting to suffer, looking somewhat stunted and under par. 

But with a good dousing of rain they have risen to their full height and glory! 

It’s turned out to be a vintage year for foxgloves. 

Fox gloves bank_

Much to the delight of the insects. 

Fox gloves bee

On reflection

A world of blogs and blog buddies is a good place to escape to right now.

There is only so much of the Covid-19 news stream that can be taken at one time. We need to pace our selves for the long haul, when we can’t see what lies ahead.

NZ self portrait

I’m planning to continue  blog the journey through the photos of New Zealand, from November 2019, when things seemed simpler and more secure. I’m going to try and find things of beauty to share here, to bring a little fresh air to our days. To nourish and to salve.

We are all going to need to look out for others as well as ourselves. When I talk to people who are carers,  I often use the analogy of the drop down emergency oxygen masks on planes, and the instruction to put it on yourself first, before you can help others.  Let yourself breath. A little bit of mindfulness, some exercise if you can, a warm bath, a phone call to a good friend. Little things can make a difference.

Before I disappear into the beauty of New Zealand again,

NZ Lupin pink and blue_

Please be careful where you take your Covid-19 information and advice from, there is a lot of misinformation out there  

Overseas readers might be surprised to learn that Derbyshire has history when it comes to containment of disease, of sacrifices by a community to protect others.  Dating back to 1665 in  and the  ‘plague’ village of Eyam   It seems all the more extraordinary when you think about how little they knew about how disease is transmitted!

An outdoor church service at Eyam in 1666, from a display in the local museum.

Stay safe.

Don’t drink the water

More from our travels through New Zealand,  November 2019

You never know what’s up stream.

NZ Dead Horse Stream_

Every bridge and culvert in New Zealand is named and numbered. And indeed if you’ve that kind of enquiring mind you can read the rational for it, here.

These two were on the road out to Mount Cook, Mount Cook.

birch hill stream NZ 2

I’ve no idea what a worry line is, but it’s worrying me.  You can follow Birch Hill stream up to the snow fields of Jamieson Saddle, but you’d need to know what you were about. 

New Zealand’s roads don’t seem to get a good press,

NZ Rd to Mt Cook Lake Pukaki vista

New Zealand does not score highly in road infrastructure when compared to other developed  nations, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015–
2016.23 The New Zealand road quality is rated as 4.7 out of 7, which places New Zealand in position 43. The perceived comparatively poor quality of our infrastructure may partly be due to our geography and population size.

As the saying goes, New Zealand’s roads are different,  but I thought that report seemed a little harsh, there’s a lot less pot holes in the roads than here in Derbyshire at the moment. And the challenges  that a feisty young  mother nature throws at New Zealand’s road infrastructure, such as earthquakes, floods, landslips, snow and ice must be challenging to say the least.  We shall return to this topic.

 

Note to self

It’s always tempting when the seed catalogues drop through the letter box on the darkest of winters days, to get a bit carried away by the promise of summer, and spend a lot of money. (Sarah Raven’s catalogue is particularly seductive)

It’s even harder this year with the memory of New Zealand’s summer flowers still fresh and fragrant in my mind.

NZ Geum 2

However, no mater how much restraint I show, yellow and orange geums will be on the list  These  beauties were  in Christchurch Botanic Gardens.  Which felt very familiar,   very British (only sunnier) similar to Buxton’s Pavillion Gardens, in Derbyshire.

The gardens are home to The Peacock Fountain  which was made at Coalbrookedale Foundry in Shropshire, England; this blog has explored the Coalbrookedale  Museum of Iron in a previous post, and its easy to see this fountains linage.

Built  in 1911it’s not always been universally popular,  its quite ornate…

Erected by the Christchurch Beautifying Association from funds bequeathed by the late Hon. J. T. Peacock

Peacock Fountain Christchurch_.jpg

I think we can safely say it has been beautified,  however one writer told the press of the time 

 ‘it exhibited no more taste than the gaudy decoration used by travelling showmen to embellish their merry go-rounds.’

Which I feel is a little harsh.   Now back to the seed catalogue,  which of the Geums will it be?   And do they come with added butterfly?