Uphilldowndale

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


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Marine Plastic.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_11

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, I’m tardy) 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.

It saddens my heart, to find plastic on the beach.  I pick it up when ever I can, as do others (it looks like  their are some very useful bits and bobs in here, reduce, reuse, recycle).

Boat marine waste

It seems a sad fact of life that it seems the more remote the beach, the more plastic washes up

Will plastics be the archaeology of the future?  Here bailer twine is being consumed by dunes.

Dunes bailer twine Orkney

I was pleased to see both on Orkney and in the highlands of Scotland efforts to remove plastic (and other debris) from the beach.

Marine plastic Lopness_

It seems ironic to have to use plastic bags to collect the rubbish in, maybe we could knit string bags from the bailer twine, not much use though, for the smaller pieces of plastic (although,hopefully micro beads of plastic from cosmetics will become a thing (or legacy) of the past)

There was a community feel to many of the beach cleaning initiatives.  Like this one

Marine plastic bin_ 

They even have a grabber thing,  to use if you don’t fancy collecting by hand. And not only a dog poo bin, but a poo bag dispenser!

Beach clean_

All this was at the beautiful Balnakeil beach

Beautiful beach Balnakeil_

Apart from the feel good factor of taking plastic from the ocean, for more careful recycling, there can be other unforeseen perks. I was dragging a large piece of plastic net off the beach above, when I was approached by a man (no photo here, you’ll just have to use your imagination) in his early thirties, he was running along the beach with his husky hound dog, of very athletic build and wearing naught but lycra Jammer swim shorts and a sprinkling of Polynesian style tattoos, he stopped and in a very strong French accent thanked me for ‘helping keep the oceans of the world beautiful’.

Don’t worry girls their is plenty more plastic on the beach…

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Lichen

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_08

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July!) 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.

Lichen, a symbiosis between fungi and alga.   The islands of Orkney have the most sumptuous lichen I’ve ever seen 

Lichen Wall Orkney_

I’ll not pretend to try and understand of identify them, the most accessible information I could find is on The Woodland Trust website, which is ironic because if there is one thing Orkney is in short supply of its trees. 

Lichens are often an indicator air quality and pollution. The leafy and beardy species being the most fragile, in their response to the air quality.

lichen wall 3_

I can confirm the air on Orkney is palpable in its freshness, its a  striking feature of the islands; as is the quietness (apart from the  gorgeous, gorgeous,birdsong)

Lichen_

its’ a quietness that presses on the eardrum, as unfamiliar with this void of noise, it seems to scan for familiar sounds amongst the white noise of wind, sea and birdsong

lichen wall 4

Orkney has so much archaeology it makes it your head spin.  It has standing stones a plenty. The perfect host for a colonisation of lichen

lichen standing stones 3

  In close view they look like maps of different worlds, which I suppose they are.

lichen standing stones 2

There was a time when man  deemed a good idea to clean the precious stones of lichen.  The lichen fought back.

lichen standing stones

They  also takes hold of more contemporary standing stones

grave stone lichen_


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Time and Tide Part II

I was giving you a tour of Rhosilli Bay on the Gower Peninsular,  but I got distracted. It happens.

I thought you might like to see the remains of   the Helvetia, wrecked  in 1887

Wreck

It is amazing that the tides and pounding storms of the last 129 years haven’t swept away every trace of this ship, especially as it was extensively salvaged.

And given that these are timbers, wood, a natural, bio-degradable material, and they are still with on this beach,  just think  of plastic and of its non bio-degradable qualities, and hold that thought, for a post or two.

Its old  timber bones have simply slumped into the sands

Wreck 3 

Explorer Edgar Evans, was born in Rhosilli in in 1876, its said* that as a young boy seeing the drama of the wrecking of the Helvetia was in part, instrumental in him joining the navy, where he became a member of the “Polar Party” in Robert Falcon Scott‘s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole in 1911–1912 from which he never returned.

Worms head_

* I did read that bit in the pub in Rhosilli, I think I’ve got the detail right. I’m sure someone will correct me if needs be.


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Slow to germinate part two

Following on from my last post (eventually) where explored the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. 

Back up into the life giving light for this post: the setting is glorious,  its both contemporary,

 seed bank ext 2

and  historic

MSB3

not to mention scientific

MSB 17

the precious seeds are nurtured,

MSB 18

given the exactly the right  conditions for their development, hot,cold, damp, dry reflecting their origins from around the globe.

MSB 19

Then lavished with care, moving from the laboratory to the glasshouses.

please leave as you find

where highly skilled staff  cater for their every need

how to water

Oh how I love the shapes,

no water 

forms

MSB1

and colours to be found in nature

how house_

When we’d finished our very special tour, we spent some time in the grounds of Wakehurst, which is in Sussex not London, please note! With its abundant wildlife, look how you can see the colour of the flower through the bees wing.

MSB 15

There is scrumptious sculpture

MSB 16

and wild meadows

MSB2

(oh I’m a sucker for a wild flower meadow).

Moon penny  5


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Slow to germinate, part one

It would be churlish of me to complain about the weather, its been wet grey and dismal, but we’ve had nothing like the troubles of great swathes of the UK.  I’ve not been out with the camera, I’ve been very happy to fall into a state of semi hibernation. It’s the time of year where curling up with a seed catalogue in front of a warm fire seems like an ideal  way to pass  the time.

So it perhaps seems fitting to dig up a post that has been lying  in  a dormant state in my  blog drafts since June 2014. Yes 2014

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in the  hearts and history of Mr Uphilldowndale’s family.

It was as a result of this connection we had the privilege of visiting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank  at Wakehurst in Sussex ;  in a nut shell, the aim of the seed bank is to provide an insurance policy against extinction of plants in the wild.

seed bank ext

When HRH Prince Charles opened the Millennium Seed bank he described it as a ‘a gold reserve … a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored’.

It’s a special place.

breathing planet_

We  had a full behind the scenes tour.  Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,

so many seeds

others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.

MSB4

Just sometimes, the seeds arrive  from the four corners of the world with excess baggage, the staff need to keep their wits about them, and a sense of humour.

big spid

Identified and catalogued

seed vault 4

this most precious of treasure is prepared

seed jars

to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C

seed vault 2

You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;

seed vault 3

We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass

seed vault

It’s one thing keeping all these seeds, and knowing where you’ve put them, I’d be rubbish at that! But you also need to know, what you’ve got will germinate.  I was very taken with the x-ray images of seeds, that can tell the trained eye, a lot about the viability of the seed samples; I thought they were rather beautiful.

xray seeds_

Part two to follow.


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Between Earth and Air

Earlier this week, Spud the dog and I were out and about in time to watch the sunrise. It was moody and misty, we like that sort of thing*

leaves mist_

I’m not sure what the black bar down the centre of the above image is. Is it some sort of refraction? A reader will know, I feel sure.

sunrise mist_

As the sun climbed higher, and behind a bank of clouds, the electricity pylons on a distant ridge appeared to be striding out along  the clouds.

pylons mist_

that is a bout as pretty as I think you can make a pylon look. Usually they are a blot on the landscape

*Spud likes anything that involves me picking up the camera bag and putting wellington boots on, he always reckons he’s in with a chance of field time.


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Thirty days wild. June 24th

The best thing that you can do for nature is too make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.

watching me_

I’m not sure who was watching who?