Uphilldowndale

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


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Sewing a Seed of Remembrance

It was almost by chance we saw the installation of poppies at the Tower of London that marked the hundredth anniversary of the start of WWI, they both moved us and captured our imagination,

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we managed to buy a poppy, and plant it on the map, just one of the 888,246 poppies that were made

It was the start of a journey, that amongst other things led us to visit Ypres in Belgium and listen to the last post at the Menin Gate We saw so many young people there, so important.

Menin Gate School

Some of the poppies  were retained from the tower, and have been exhibited around the country. We’ve managed to catch up with them in a couple of locations.

Here at Carlisle Castle, the number of poppies here are roughly the same as the number of men who signed up to serve in the war,

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within these walls, and never returned.

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to the city and surrounding villages.

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Carlisle poppy 2

Lest we forget.

 

 

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The Burren

(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him…… and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing. Edmund Ludlow 1651-52

It wasn’t the kind of landscape I’d ever associated with Ireland, apparently it is a glaciated karst landscape, it’s striking, especially as we’d been fully immersed in headlands, seascapes and lighthouses on our journey along Ireland Wild Atlantic Way. This seemed like a different country altogether.

The Burren_

I do like a a nice bit of limestone, it reminds me of home in many ways

The Burren view

And happy school trips to the likes of Malham Cove, on school geography trips. To look at the limestone pavements, the slabs of limestone, divided by clints and grykes . The Burren pavements.jpg

It looks barren, but there was lots of life. The Burren fren limstone.jpg

And the evidence of life forms past, were clear to see, such as this coral

The Burren coral_

This was back in early June, we thought it was hot that day, I don’t imagine there is much in the way of water left in the rather caustic looking ponds, that were humming with dragonfly, none that would keep still to be photographed though.

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This land has been used for animal grazing, since Neolithic times, the walls are later.

The Burren drystonewalls

I have to say that a Derbyshire Gritstone sheep, would laugh at such a filigree wall, and then walk straight through it!

But they must have served a purpose, or they wouldn’t be here now.

The Burren wall 2.jpg

 


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High Summer

Goodness me its warm, I’m a delicate skinned Derbyshire lass, like the landscape around me I tend to get a little frazzled in the heat.

Moorland fires are still burning, on the hills above Manchester, we’ve had grass fires locally, but thankfully they’ve been caught in time.

At this time of the year, just briefly, the sun is high enough to cast its rays through the roof-lights on the north side of the house, the shadows that form surprise me, we’ve been trying to work out how this image, of a palm frond, taken around noon today, on the grey tiles of the hall floor, appears to be a negative image. My heat addled brain didn’t really compute this, until the moment had passed.

Negative Fern.jpgWe shall have to investigate further tomorrow.


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A brief moment in time

I walk down to the dentist this morning, not something you’d  normally leap out of bed for.

I took the old railway incline down into the village, it was part of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, that brought limestone down from the quarries to the waiting narrow boats in the canal basin. It’s now used as a path, and has been planted with trees (less controversial that current trees V railway issues)

I caught the cherry trees, at just the right moment,

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If the wind had picked up, or if it had rained, it just wouldn’t have looked the same, clusters of blossom were hiding in plain sight

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So glad I decided to walk, rather than drive; on the way back it got even better

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I think this might be the same beautiful animal I saw in the field a few days ago, I think it is a roe deer, not something we’ve seen here before, red deer occasionally from off the moors, but not roe. I felt a little sorry for it, it looked like it might be happier in a herd (but its OK,  it seems they are solitary animals).

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Too think, I nearly didn’t take the camera with me.

 


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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. 

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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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Seasonal Variations

It all seems a little odd, first we were prisoners to the storm, the beast from the east; we’ve certainly had more depth of snow in the past, but never such a blizzard,  it roared on for 36 hours.

We hunkered down and were grateful for lives both personal and professional that allow for a generous dollop of flexibility, and that no longer involve the great debate of can we get the boys to school in this? Will it be open when we get there? And will it be closing anytime soon? We don’t miss that scenario at all…

Last Sunday the lane was still full to the brim with snow,

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It was deep enough to dissuade the usual selection of 4×4 adventurers that come out to play when it snows (  and who were busy being helpful to those in need). We were able to get out in the opposite direction, after the top road was ploughed, by one of the farmers who is contracted to clear the roads when the going gets tough.

It was Wednesday before the ‘garden cat’ reappeared from the drift that had engulfed  it a week before

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Then more snow came on Thursday and ambushed it again, at least it covered the filthy snow* and as Clive James  describes it ‘hushed the whole thing up’.

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There was something rather disorientating  about so much snow and ice at this time of year, the light, the birds singing, when they could be heard over the roar of the wind, it just didn’t seem natural.  So many hungry birds.

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Today it has been 11c, in the defrosting pond toads are croaking (Spud the dog, scared them away from a photo opportunity) and amongst the snowdrops

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bees are humming and feasting. Whatever next.

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* this was the first and probably the last time you’ll find me cleaning windows, at –3c, after the blizzard passed, we couldn’t see out!


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Who so ever plants a tree winks at immortality

Spud the dog and I went for a walk  today, this was a big event; it’s the first time Spud has been out for a proper walk since his accident in August.  His bone is healed thanks to the great skill of his vets. Now he needs to build up some muscle.

We walked up the lane it was full of wondrous scents as far as Spud was concerned, I’ve always thought it a rather magical place. We met other dogs and had a good time.

We found in our absence  the council had been doing some work on the gullies at the side of the road.  They’d grubbed up a young yew tree, it was lying exposed, root ball and all on the far side of the gully. I thought I could probably mange to carry it  home, to plant it for perpetuity, yew trees are thought to be special, you see,  I was wrong, it was far too heavy.

I returned later with the Landrover, and it was a bit of a fight to get it in on my own, a passing neighbour offered to help, but  I declined her offer, she was wearing a beautifully cut tweed jacket, far to nice for wrestling muddy roots of which there were many more that I’d realised.

Look what lovely roots.

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I think I’ll let Mr Uphilldowndale dig the hole, once we’ve decided where it will be happy for the next 300 years or so.

It made me think of the quote, by Felix Dennis that forms the tittle of this post, I’d seen it at an exhibition at Kew Gardens. So I looked it up, once I’d got the mud off my clothes, and look at this beautiful, beautiful poem. Felix Dennis, how come I’d never heard of him before?

Whosoever plants a tree
Winks at immortality.

Woodland cherries, flowers ablaze,
Hold no hint of human praise;

Hazels in a hidden glade
Give no thought to stake or spade;

London planes in Georgian squares
Count no patrons in their prayers;

Seed and sapling seek no cause,
Bark and beetle shun applause;

Leaf and shoot know nought of debt,
Twig and root are dumb— and yet

Choirs of songbirds greet each day
With eulogies, as if to say:

‘Whosoever plants a tree
Winks at immortality!’