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


Flashes of Light

How it has rained, and rained this week. The occasional burst of sunlight was very welcome.

Spring sun_

I can report that the  neighbouring lambs are ‘growing up with the grass’, or in this case the nettles, as this nettle bed seems to be a favourite haunt.

growing up with the nettles_-2

This morning the sun brought out the bees, to the vetch ( in my head I could hear the theme to 633 Squadron as this bee swooped in)


And the winberry flowers 


Remember I was given a Trophy Cam for Christmas? Well its only taken us five months to actually set it up (blame the DIY) but look what we ‘shot’ on the second night.


Brock the badger, we’ve always thought he was around, from the scrape marks and poo pits in the field; but other than one sighting in the lane (which must have been many years ago now, because Mr Uphilldowndale and Joe were coming home from Beaver Scouts) we’ve never seen him (or her) in the flesh.


Frosted Fizz

A sharp frost overnight gave the great outdoors a bit of a boost this morning.

frost fizz

The garden was lifted from its damp decay.

frosted mahonia_

And the field effervesced

frosted leaf 

The remains of the field maple glowed in the cold.


And a spiders web was frosted filigree

frosted web

Whilst the hedgerow was barbed with ice.

frosted hedgerow-2


As a family we’ve come close to hibernation over the last couple of weeks,  I think we all needed it. I’m feeling torn now, between wanting to regain some semblance of routine back to my life, or staying in my cosy little world. Sigh.


The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog 6th April 2014


Have you missed Spud? Here he is, his leg is much better, but not quite right yet.



He got a bit excited today, Jimmy the farmer turned up in his big red tractor, with blade harrow in tow, to do a bit of remedial work on the field, where the pipes for the ground source heat pump were laid*.

big red tractor


Jimmy  jumped out of the cab for a natter, leaving the engine running. Time passed we carried on, nattering , putting the world, and the meadow to rights. When somewhat startlingly, the big red tractors engine went ‘Vrooooom, vrooom as only the engines of big red (and possibly green) tractors can.

‘Ahhh’, said Jimmy, knowingly,without missing a beat, ‘the dog will be ready for off then’.

big red tractor dog

Just as well, that as bright as they are, border collies can’t quite mange the clutch and the handbrake as well as the accelerator. A working dog has no time for idle chat and needs to put his paw down firmly from time to time.


* I will eventually get around to telling the full story of our magical heating system


Buttercup Syrup

There can’t be a more  soothing linctus than sitting in a field of buttercups on a sunny afternoon.

Buttercups 2-1

This springs bizarre weather seems to have bothered the buttercups little. Our field is swathed with them.

Buttercups 3-1

We do little to our meadow, it gets cut for hay* (or haylage) depending on the weather by a neighbouring farmer, he ‘mucks’ and harrows it as required. And puts sheep on it to graze it for a few weeks each year. We pull out a few docks and clumps of nettles each year; but other than that, nature takes its course.

Buttercups 7-1

If it were a commercially farmed field I’m sure it would have been ploughed and re-sown by now, the luxury of lolling around in the buttercups I suspect is not a financial option. In the photo below you can see another field across the valley that would appear to be managed in a similar way to ours, if the  yellow haze of buttercups are an indicator that is.

Buttercups 6-1

I suppose we have a wild flower meadow, although in my head I think that would mean more diversity and less buttercups, I don’t know. I need to do a little research. 

This year is the 150th anniversary of Manchester to Buxton railway line, look I’ve managed a shot of a train trundling up the valley (I was lolling around for quite awhile, as whilst it is a vital line, that  fortunately escaped Beeching’s axe, its not a busy one)

Buttercups 9-1

I wonder what the fields looked like 150 years ago, Freddy the farmer told me there were corncrakes here. Not now. I suppose now there is no way of knowing just how it was.

* Hay from this field smells sweeter than anything Penhaligon’s could sell you.


Hare Today

The snow keeps coming and going, this morning we woke to delicate confection,  a butter cream topping of snow upon a squelchy sponge of a soggy muddy field (I despair of keeping the mud out of the house) the light was  diffused and sort of floury for want of a better word, I rather liked it.

Floury light 3-1

Spud the dog, Jammy and Dodger the kitten-cats  all came with me for my turn around the field, but I’ll save the resulting mayhem for tomorrow.

Floury light 2-1

We’ve more snow forecast for tomorrow, how much remains to be seen.  Here earlier drifts lie under today’s ‘top dressing’.

Floury light -1

I was just about to go back indoors to toast my cold toes when I spotted a brown hare in the next field.

Hare 2-1

I do like hares, but I never get very close. Maybe I need a longer lens…

Hare 3-1

He lolloped over by the sheep, before exiting over the ridge.

Hare -1

Derbyshire Harrier has some lovely shots of mountain hares, over on his Flickr page


Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

snow covered sheep -1

They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

contented sheep -1 

It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

Wind from the east-1

I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

heading out of the wind-1

He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

cold nose sheep-1

We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)


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