Uphilldowndale

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


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The Eye of a Hawk

I’ve just finished reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, it packs a powerful punch; its language is beautiful,poetic; its observations of nature, life and death, are heart achingly observed.

It may be  of course that it caught my  interest and emotions on two counts,  there is a powerful story of loss bereavement in the book, and I  also had the privilege to meet a glorious goshawk called Mo a few weeks ago.

 

We met at a party, as you do.  She is only young, but look at the power in those talons!

Mo

It was Mr uphilldowndales uncles 90th birthday celebration so Mo was probably  a more appropriate star turn than a children’s magician of a kiss-o-gram.

She stay’s (to use the scots phrase, as I don’t think she could belong to anyone) with Mr UHDD’s cousin.  I got to hold her, which was a treat, she did that gimbal /snake head manoeuvre, where her whole body could be moved, up and down or from side to side on my arm, but her head, or more importantly her eyes, never moved, not a fraction of an inch

Mo 2 

For Christmas I was given a remote video camera, a  Bushnell Trophy Cam (lucky girl ehh?) The website appears to be into a different sort of ‘shoot’ and ‘capture’ than I have in mind, but here, see, have a look at what can be done (when I’ve sussed it out!)


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Lovely Ladies

Happy New Year to you all.

This little video made me smile, it reminded me of a generation of wonderful women who were part of my childhood.  They were kind, skilled and tough, they made Christmas puddings in white bowls with muslin lids, carefully tied up with string. They grew giant rhubarb and strawberries that tasted divine. Their quarry tiled kitchen floors were glossy red and their fireside brasses glowed in the firelight over the hand made rag rug . One especially has a place in my heart, Laura, my mums neighbour when she was first married, she could solve any crisis, knitted clothes for my dolls, baked cakes like these

old fashioned cakes_

and  she read me Winnie- the- Pooh  from beginning to the end, a chapter at a time, every Wednesday night when she came round for a natter and a gossip.

Oh yes, she was very like these ladies.


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A Quiet Christmas

Seasons greetings to you all. We’d planned a quiet Christmas at home, just the four of us; which was just as well as Mr Uphilldowndale, Tom and I have all been unwell, coughs, achy limbs, headaches and fever.

Last night it started to snow, bringing the sort of dawn today that I’d normally leap out at all blue sky and crispy snow clad trees.

snow fields 2

But I didn’t feel like venturing far from home.

icy twiggs_

Just around the field

snow fields_

The garden, where the trees looked particularly elegant.

snow trees_

And a peek down the lane.

snow lane

For those of you missing Spud the dog, here he is, after a burst wrapping paper shredding on Christmas day.

Spud Christmas day


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Family Roots

My blog lurches along, in fits and starts. Many things have been bubbling away, they seems to consume vast swaths of time, but if I were to list them all here, the majority would seem very mundane. But I’ll kick start a few posts by telling you about a special event.

We had a family gathering at Kew Gardens in London, to inter my father in laws ashes, long time readers might remember that he died in 2013, his wish was that his body be donated for medical science and we held a memorial service soon after his death.

  After a period of time (12 months in my father in laws case) the body  is returned to the family and they can make their own arrangements, if that is what the donor requested , or the anatomy  society arranges for a cremation and the scattering of the ashes at the crematorium. 

palm house 3

 

Mr Uphilldowndale’s father visited Kew often, it was a favourite place. One of the reasons for his interest was that a family ancestor, was a keen amateur botanist and a number of plants were named after him by his friend botanist Joseph Hooker, who was a director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. So you can see what a fitting place it seemed to be for the interment. The staff at Kew looked after us beautifully, and extended their hospitality by inviting us to stay on to enjoy the preview night of their Christmas lights, this seemed a perfect way to round off the day, it was quite magical.

 

So some photos of Kew by night

The palm house, the lights and flames all timed to music, pure theatre

Kew lights 4

Meandering through the glass houses

Kew lights 6

 

Kew lights 7

Surreal candelabra suspended from trees

Kew lights_

The cacti house seemed other worldly.

Cacti at Kew_

Cacti at Kew 2

The Palm House,

Kew palm house_

ever changing.

Kew lights 3


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Morning Meadow.

What is not to like about a meadow at six in the morning, on a beautiful summer day. Spud the dog and I took a meadow meander,

Meadow Morning

My friend Mrs Ogg say’s I look like I’m wearing a ball gown. I think the silhouette looks a little like the game piece in that little box of treasures I found at my Mum’s.

Game piece_ 

In fact I was wearing far more casual attire. My dressing gown, wellington boots, accessorised with a mug of tea, obviously.

Fashion statement

Seize the moment, I say.


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Visiting Time

We are off to Wales to see Tom tomorrow. It is rare for us to venture out on the roads on a bank holiday weekend, but Tom hasn’t been home over the Easter holidays as he’s been to Greece climbing, and we are keen to see him (Spud the dog is coming too).

I’ve a heap of photos I’ve not published from our last visit (I hasten to add Tom is living in student accommodation at Bangor, not as this photo might suggest a cave).

Tom Wales_

He took us to Dinorwic slate quarries,  the second largest slate quarry in the world, where part of Clash of the Titans  was filmed, it is certainly has an other worldly feel about it.

Tom Wales 2

The scale of the place is mind blowing.

Tom taught me, his techiphobe mother to take a panorama shot on my phone.

Look, see.

20140307_152057

Of course we had to make a visit to Pete’s Eats’ as students are always hungry and keen for parents to buy them food.

 

I’m sad and shocked to report another of Mr Uphilldowndale’s running/cycling  friends has landed in hospital, following an incident with a heard of cows; very nasty indeed. (And  I’m afraid to report ‘G’ remains  still very poorly in hospital).


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My Life in Linoleum

As my brothers and I peeled back the layers of the family home of 48 years  swatches of decades gone by, started to reappear.

I remember this linoleum in my parents room in the early 1960’s (Kath Kidston, eat your heart out).

1950's lino_ 

And this fern fronded pattern in the bathroom (it comes with later paint speckles)

 

1950's lino 2-2

Wall paper in the bottom of drawers and the backs of cupboards all arc straight back to my childhood (hands up, who ‘backed’ their school books in the following papers? I don’t think there were many designs to choose from, were there?)

1970's wallpaper_

We found a tin of watches that time forgot

where time stood still

I don’t remember us being much of a ‘game playing’ family, my brothers are older than me by a good measure, I’m sure as a little sister I would have been a bit of a nuisance, impatient for my turn.  But we must have done at some time.

broken beads and games

Another moment captured in time, a lone Christmas peanut, lurking in the box

 peanuts_

Is that a box of pins from my Spirograph? Oh look, what fun, you can play on line!

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