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


Time machine

Having seen astronaut Tim Peak’s landing craft, we thought we’d see if we there were any tickets available to see the exhibition of 12 Leonardo da Vinci drawings that was also showing. at the National Museum Cardiff,  ‘Yes’ they said, ‘two tickets available right now, come on in.’

144 of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection are displayed in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing features 12 drawings at each venue, all selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo’s interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

LD 12

I was surprised we were allowed to take photographs, but we were, so long as there was no flash used. Fumbling around with my phone to take a snap or two to upload to social media, I had a bit of a moment where I realised the phone was about to flash! I quickly bundled into the folds of my fleece, for fear of  a 500 year old de Vinci disappearing like invisible ink, in front of my eyes! (The Banksy incident was running through my mind).

LD 11

Was there anything he couldn’t draw or imagine?


Great feats of engineering and soft romantic portraits


The anatomical drawings are incredible.


Not only in terms of the observation,


but he clearly had a rich understanding of how the body works, which seems a head of its time, as the information  screen explained.


Leonardo da Vinci, wrote in backwards, ‘mirror writing’ as to why the jury seems to be out, but as a left handed dyslexic, who was made to write with ink  at primary school, yes a ‘dip pen’  it was 1968 not 1508! But I can remember the mess I made, so I can understand why he wrote the way he did, but not how!

And now I’m seeing the teacher responsible for insisting on me writing in pen and ink in this drawing, you get the picture?

Da Vinci 12

Afterwards we found our way to the coffee shop, to reflect that we had just been transported, from Tim Peake’s space travel, to five hundred years ago, when the polymath that was Leonardo da Vinci was sketching something remarkably like a helicopter all under one roof. Amazing.









Jewels from natures workshop.


Heavy rain last night, on the dill in the garden.


There is much activity here, the work has started on the new central heating system and Tom is preparing for setting out to university in a couple of weeks time.

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Behind the Bling

The  third and final post about the John Rylands Library in Manchester

I started out calling this post ‘Behind the Bling’ but that felt a little uncharitable. I’m not sure The John Rylands Library in Manchester ever ‘set its barrow down’ to be ostentatious, more a philanthropic sharing of knowledge, the gift of education  and a celebration of art, architecture and craftsmanship. (Oh and the fact northern money was as good as southern!)

An on the hoof  exterior photo as we dashed for our train, in the fading winter light

John Ryland Exterior -1

Within  the building is a spectacular collection of historical documents and books. painstakingly catalogued and preserved for posterity.

John Ryland Reading Room -1

it is the third largest academic library in the United Kingdom, and the Deansgate building houses over 250,000 printed volumes, and well over a million manuscripts and archival items.

Many  are painstakingly shrouded for  their protection

shrouded books -1

I looked at these books and carefully stored documents

John Ryland Reading Room 4-1

and thought how I would be a disaster working in this field

John Ryland books -1

(as disastrous as I’d be as an air traffic controller! each to their own!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour around, pop over and have a look at the secrets of a more modern building over at VWXYNot? Fascinating.


Spud on Sunday Part LXIXIII

As you can imagine things have been a bit hectic around here of late. It seems, and I’m sure Spud will vouch for this, like an age since he got to have his very own adventure. But he makes the most of it, in that Springer spaniel sort of way, along with a little help from his friends (thanks to Glo  who after last weeks post,  used her creative talents to visualise Spuds  canine dream for us mere humans).


(remember my  fever dream, at the creative hands of Glo?)

Spud likes to muck in with who ever is about and as ‘men and machine’ have been digging for victory in very wet conditions over the last few days, muck is indeed everywhere. Here Spud and Tom check todays progress

Spud tom-1

(Tom is also able to add to his geology homework by studying what our house is built upon (looking at that clay, it is no wonder the bed shakes like a jelly when anyone slams the back door!)

Spud will always seek a hug, muddy paws and all.

Spud tom 1-1

And look, I nearly forgot, Spud took delivery of nine tons of best Derbyshire limestone yesterday. What fun.

limestone -1

would you like to see some more mud?



Not So Freshly Pressed

Uphilldowndale, One Thousand Posts Later

This is post number 1,000, I’m finding it hard to believe, but there you go, the nice people at WordPress kindly provide a behind the scenes (or screen) page of statistics about my blog and the little counter at the bottom of the page says my previous post was  number 999 and  as I can’t recall ever deleting any of my posts this must be it.

I thought I’d dish up a favourite post, but I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t even decide on a photo (some of my favourite blog photos are huddled together on my flickr page). In the end I settled for this little chap, who fledged from a nest in the barn wall back in June 2008, (maybe its how I felt when I first started the blog, it was a bit of a leap into the unknown)

Little bird 2

Tonight  is a double celebration as I also pressed the send key, and dispatched the last piece of work for my course of study, off into cyberspace. Woooohoooo; me time beckons, the hills are a calling, time to get out and play.

Thank you all for stopping by and taking the time to comment, it wouldn’t be the same without you xx.



Back to School for the Autumn term

Michaelmas daisy 2-1

That’s it the summer is over, the boys are back at school (actually they went back last Friday, which seemed like an odd day to start, but never mind). Joe and Tom posed for the traditional ‘first day of term’ photo* before they left for the bus and I promptly sent Joe back in the house to change his trousers, it seems I hadn’t been rigorous enough** in the cull of trousers from the previous academic year, they were half way up his shins.

Tom got all new gear, now he in 6th form he is required to wear a suit. Thank goodness for Next Directory, it saved trawling round town with a teenager and any heated debates about suitability of said suit could be confined to home, excellent, for both of us.

* Easy to take such a simple family ritual for granted

** Idle would be a better description of the trouser cull


New Perspective

Unlocking Writers Block

I’ve a deadline looming and a few thousand words to haul together, it hasn’t been going very well. My desk is littered with books, notes ‘post its’ highlight pens and half drunk cups of tea and mind maps. I’ve done the reading (even if I did fall asleep at my desk, no easy task on a swivel chair) and I’ve deployed every ‘study aid’ tactic I’ve ever heard of, but  despite my tenacious daily  efforts the word count stays resolutely stuck (it’s not that I don’t write something, just that I swipe the previous work. ) I know from the course forum I am not alone, as there has been a major outbreak of assignment rage.

So I decide to take a fresh perspective on the matter (or maybe I was just looking for a displacement activity, to get away from the keyboard). So I moved my ‘office’ furniture around, instead of my desk facing the wall, it is now by the window. The aspect is pleasing.

Brighter outlook -1

Mr Uphilldowndale stuck his head around the door and declared ‘You’ll get nothing done, you’ll just be gazing out of the window, watching the birds go by’.  He is probably right, but I don’t care, the move was a quality of life decision.  I’ve still not broken the back of the assignment, but I’m in better mood, this evening I’m trying a study aid not listed in the books, a bottle of red. There may be quite a lot of editing required tomorrow.