Uphilldowndale

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


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Spud on tour

Did Spud the dog enjoy touring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way? (Well, the small part we managed, so much to see, do, and enjoy, we’ll be returning). Yes he did.

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It’s twelve months now, since he broke his elbow in three places.  You can see his stance in this photo, it’s not perfect

 

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but he can steam around with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from a Springer, his mobility is far better than we could have ever imagined at the time of his accident. Surprisingly (to us, at least) his biggest issue from his accident has been his hip, which causes him some discomfort, we’d noticed just before his accident that he’s been running with a bunny hop and seemed to find stairs difficult, we discussed only days before that we perhaps ought to be taking him to the vets.  As it happen we’ve been to the vets a lot since then!

Spud has hip dysplasia, as do so many dogs. After his accident and surgery he had to have ‘crate rest’ for six weeks, and many months of little or no exercise, during this time he lost quite a bit muscle tone, and he’s struggles to use his leg as he should and keep its mobility. ‘Use it or lose it’ doesn’t really work for a dog, so he has physiotherapy and hydro-therapy, he’s less keen on the latter, He occasionally falls asleep during his physio sessions though, once the ‘uncomfortable’ bits are done. He’s a model patient.

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Always in the kitchen at parties?

More from our visit to Burghley House

It seems kitchens have always held an attraction, warmth, food, drink, what’s not to like.

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You’ve noticed the skulls? Turtles.

Now every piece of meat that passed through this kitchen would have been ‘headed up’ by a skull at some point, but obviously turtles were note worthy. In the 17th century turtle soup was  a very prestigious  dish to set before your guests. So much so, you’d have had a special dish from which to serve it.

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Turtles were shipped live to the UK, in specially built tanks and barrels onboard ship. I thought that must have been a bit grim. But  then a lot of things were at that time. 

It’s amazing that a new cook didn’t come along and say ‘for goodness sake, get those  ugly dusty old things out of my kitchen!’

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We don’t know how this chap arrived.

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We stayed in a holiday let on the estate, The Dairy, we were quite a crowd,  the Dairy can accommodate up to twenty guests; we were celebrating a special birthday.

Now think what an old dairy looks like, even if it is one on the estate of a stately home.  Now think again.

The Dairy

No one minded being in this kitchen, well actually there were two kitchens…  an heir and a spare of kitchens!

Sumptuous, and Spud the dog was a model guest, he took one look at the sofas and realised he hadn’t a cat in hells chance of being allowed on one, so he sprawled on the under heated floors instead and was content.

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The Cross country course for the Burley Horse trials runs straight past the garden, you can hire The Dairy then if you like, and you can afford.  

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After three nights of excellent company food and wine, none of us were quite ready to go home to our own kitchens.

 

 


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Generous Hospitality

Continuing our visit to Flanders Fields

 

The people of  the beautiful town of Ypres, were warm and welcoming.

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The town was completely restored after the Great War, it had to be.

 

Photo, City of Vancouver Archives

 

At the centre of the market square is the Cloth Hall,  the clock tower was having a bit of maintenance.

 

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I thought it a very slender scaffold tower, glad to see it was well tied in to the building. It’s a long way down for a comfort break!

 

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I’m more used seeing building sites like this secured, I’m sure if you tried this at home, some likely lad, would think it a blast to scamper up after a few pints!  The footings looked quite relaxed too…

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I’ve hardly any photos of the town, my planned day of  mooching around the streets, camera in hand was scuppered by a dramatic drop in temperature that left us scampering between coffee shops and museums  dodging the icy winds, others have done better than me .

Such a shame the day before had been a beautiful spring day, Spud the dog who came along for his first overseas trip had been lapping up the sun and watching the world go by from his favourite spot in the van

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Spud had to have a visit to the vets whilst in Ypres, to have a worming tablet, a statutory requirement if he was to allowed back into the UK and to be marked on his pet passport. We found the vets online before we left home,  the appointment was made by email and it was all very straight forward, and for Spud who has seen more than his fair share of vets over the last few months,  he thought it rather swish and he was more than happy to escape with just a tasty tablet.

 

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We were a bit perplexed the evening before, when we looked down the street where we thought the vets was located, it was all very traditional and looked residential rather than commercial, but in the daylight when the shutters were up we discovered that to accommodate the need for more modern space in such a carefully protected townscape, the façade of buildings are preserved, meanwhile  the walls within are a totally reworked space across several buildings, here at the vets, a carpark is on the lower floor with a sweeping ramp up to the glass walled offices and consulting rooms on the first floor.

 

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I wondered what it was like to live in a town with the legacy of remembrance tourism, tricky sometimes maybe?

But the hospitality we received was generous to say the least, here is a chicken pie, that we ordered ‘to share’  between two of us.

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It goes without saying that Belgium beer is good, and the  chocolate is divine, the scent of which wafts along the main square,

 

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judging by the state of this  last photo, I  obviously took it after the beer,


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Unseasonal Colours

You could have been forgiven for thinking a splash of colour was hard to come by today, heavy rain and weighty clouds have consumed us. But having watched the Met Office rainfall radar for a window of opportunity, Spud the dog and I grabbed it with enthusiasm. 

We made it to the post box today, another milestone for Spuds recovery, and its the first time he’s been a muddy dog for many a month.   The ‘new’ post box is a more useful size than the old one, but its sad to have lost the heritage of the old one.

We did find some colour, in the understory of a wooded area, from where we recovered the yew tree. I’ didn’t know (or hadn’t thought about) that woods have four distinct levels, canopy,understory, field layer and ground layer (todays blog learning objective has been met).

The understory of young beech trees, have kept their Autumn leaves, why do they do that when the mature trees don’t I wonder?  I’m also not sure why suddenly their are so many of them either, maybe the  grazing sheep have been absent long enough for them to become established, or maybe it was  the result of what a farming friend would call a mast year?

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The  sycamore  soaked by the rain, showed off  its  beautifully textured bark to good effect

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The lichens, seemed to have drawn up the lovely pink hue of the local grit stone;  dressed, this stone is very a very precious  commodity to us and our neighbours, and any that becomes available for sale, is snapped up and kept on the hill from whence it came for any building projects.

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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!’


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AWOL

It’s been a while since I tended my blog, the main reason has been, that Spud the dog has been in a bit of bother.

It started innocently enough, a game of ball in the field, we know he loves a ball.

New balls

It’s something  we’ve done thousands of times.  This time though, Spud the dog was in big trouble.

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Mr Uphilldowndale, threw the ball and turned back to what he was doing, he heard Spud yowl, and looked up to see him on the ground.  His leg was limp like a ragdoll’s.

We rushed him to the local vets, who instantly knew what had happened. This my friends is Spaniel Elbow, who ever knew of such a thing, in layman’s terms, it’s a weakness where the bone in the elbow fuses, so that if it fails, the  resulting pressure on the bone  causes it to fracture, in one or, worse case scenario two places, a Y fracture, this is what happened to Spud. 

He spent the night in the care of the local vets, the surgery he needed was a specialist procedure, and we were referred to the Pride Park  veterinary centre  in Derby.  He was operated on the next day, its a procedure we were told, that is about ‘as complicated as canine orthopaedic surgery gets’. If he didn’t have surgery, the legs would have been amputated.  Here he is when he got home after three nights at the ‘hospital’

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He’s had six weeks of crate rest, heavy weight pain relief and just short lead trips out to the garden to relieve himself ; tricky for a Springer, but he’s been a model patient*. His follow up x-rays show  the bone has now healed and he can now start to get moving again, to build up some strength in what his vet calls ‘his chicken leg’, he’s lost a lot of muscle tone.  He’s started having a course of hydrotherapy, which loosens him up a treat, he’s supposed to be tired after it, but he just gets giddy, I think it is because it makes him feel more like his old self, he wants to play again. 

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Reading this post, I can see I’ve sifted out a lot of the emotions we’ve been through. We were all very upset as you can imagine.  Everyone has been so kind** and skilled. There are two things people want to know, was it expensive? Yes it was, and were you insured? No we weren’t.

* Spud scared the living daylights out of us all, when he tried to leap onto the vets examination table, just a few days post surgery! Ironically we’d been shown into an empty consulting room, so as to keep him quiet and still, away from the busy waiting room!

** When Mr Uphilldowndale rang me to ask me to say ‘get home quick’ I was in the middle of a shopping at Waitrose. I abandoned my trolley full of shopping, calling to a member of staff as I fled the store.  A few days later, I returned to try again, I saw the member of staff and apologised for leaving them to sort out my shopping, and explained what had happened.  As I was paying for my shopping, a dog bone came down the conveyor, amongst my shopping, I was confused, I hadn’t put a bone in my shopping? Where had it come from? The supervisor appeared at my side, ‘A bone for your dog, with the compliments of Waitrose, we hope he is better soon…’  


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Ring leader

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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Well as you can see I’m more than a little tardy, 21 days behind schedule. Oh dear.

Will it surprise you that it was a springer spaniel that was the ring leader of this little bit of mischief? Not our Spud the dog, you understand, but he’d have loved to join in.

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It was at Skaill House  on Orkney, which as well as being rather grand family estate, stuffed full of beautiful antiques and historic items,

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and the odd exotic thing, that you can only wish had stayed wild

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It also has a touch of the 20thC about its decor in some of the rooms,  as it was a family home until the 1950’s

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It just feels familiar, take this wallpaper, for example.

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What Skaill House has, at the bottom of its garden, is altogether more unusual, and its survival is nothing short of miraculous is a  prehistoric village was exposed in 1850, when a great storm tore away the sand dunes that had protected it. I could show you my photos, but I think you’ll be netter served by the Skara Brae website

They do say if you scratch the surface of Orkney, it bleeds archaeology. I’d not disagree.