Uphilldowndale

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


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Picking up the thread

It’s been a while since I posted,  not since our little town was freed from the threat of  the failure of Toddbrook dam,  and whilst I’ve not quiet finished writing about the dam, I feel the need to share a  bright, light post to kick start me into blogging again.

We’ve been having some fun filled colourful days, Joe has been home for a month and we’ve catching up with friends near and far.

Here is a day out with my friend Mrs Ogg,  we went Chatsworth House, whilst our men folk went cycling.  What ever was happening in the big top, we didn’t get invited.

Chatsworth big top

Dahlias

Chatsworth red dahlia peach

and insects were the stars of the show

Butterfly chatsworth

It was that perfect, late Summer meandering in to Autumn weather, which must be savoured, before it is blown away.

Butterfly chatsworth 2

Spiky red dahlias, my fathers favourite flower, although my mother never appreciated the tubers being kept in the airing cupboard over winter!

Chatsworth red dahlia deep

Colours too hot to handle,

Chatsworth red dahlia flame

and gentle buttermilk yellows,

Chatsworth red dahlla custard cream

Cut flowers, prepped for the big house perhaps? They made my ex-florist fingers twitch.

Chatsworth cut flowers - Copy

Dahlias are somewhat ephemeral  as cut flowers, they don’t like to travel, get them straight from the garden, a generous neighbour or a market gardener if you can find one,  they are an endangered species, and enjoy.

Dahlia header_

Autumn is on its way

Chatsworth red leaves

 


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Outside Eden

So you’ve discovered, reclaimed and restored the lost gardens of Heligan, what do you do for an encore, what is the next great quest? How about building the worlds largest green houses in a china clay quarry, in the heart of Cornwall? That is what Tim Smit and friends did next. The Eden Project, this is what they started with.

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And how it looks today

Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall

I’ve visited before, way back in 2009, Mr Uphilldowndale had not, I was very keen to show it  to him, it’s grown a lot.

Eden domes_

As with nature the Eden Project is constantly morphing and changing,  and as with Heligan it has a delightful dash of creativity, with added playfulness.

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It’s an educational charity.

Eden Ext

Part of the vision for the Eden Project was that the domes should remain hidden in the depths of the quarry, revealing themselves as you approach. As we approached, the main entrance, revealed to us on the information boards, photos of Mr Uphilldowndale’s  late aunt and uncle, they are in the foreground, the photo captures them perfectly, with their bright enquiring minds and love of lively conversation.  Sadly, they are no longer with us, they died in 2009 and  2011, they lived not to far away in South Devon and were early visitors to Eden, the public were encouraged to visit, before it was even finished, to engage with the dream and watch the project grow.

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It is fascinating to see how the lunar landscape of the quarry has been brought back to life since 2000,  it was a millennium project. Especially how they solved the engineering challenges, I think we’ll have to bring Joe along next time we visit.

 


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Galloping towards Spring

Coltsfoot,  Tussilago farfara, I’d  recently been thinking how I’d not seen this sunny little spring flower for donkey’s years, I’d even thought about going to see if it still grows in the place I remember it as a child (funny how I can remember where that is, but not where I’ve put my phone) and then I stumble upon a magnificent clump a few hundred yards from the house.

Coltsfoot 2

Historically it was used to treat coughs and asthma (although  the toxins it’s now known to contain wouldn’t have done your liver any good) my book also says it was dried and smoked, so that’s not going to improve your cough is it?

Gypsy folklore has it that wherever it grows, coal will be found below. And I have to say, that for the sake of my neighbours house we have to hope its a coal seam (which is entirely possible) and not a coal mine.

Coltsfoot

I’d been reminiscing with some friends about coltsfoot rock, a sweet we used to buy as children, it became apparent from the conversation, that it is a bit of northern delicacy (its made in Lancashire)  

Three sticks of Coltsfoot Rock

My memory is that it tastes not unlike liquorice, and a few weeks later I stumbled upon some in an old fashioned sweetie shop, I was looking for Parma Violets at the time, but that’s another story. I can confirm, it still tastes like liquorice. I bought some for my friends, one was so taken by the memory of it, she took some sticks home, broke them into pieces, so that she could make it last longer, I doubt we did that as kids.

 

 


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Away with the fairies

Onwards into south Wales, Joe is living and working in Cardiff , on his placement year, part of his university course. We brought a van load of ‘essentials’ and helped settle him into his new abode.  We took the opportunity to head on to our favourite spot on the Gower peninsular, Nicholaston camp site, as well as  the joys of underfloor heating in the shower block, it has easy access down on to the beach. The path takes you through ancient woodland, with many autumn delights

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Once through the woods, the path laces through the dunes,

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that have abundant flowers

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so much for snails not liking sand and prickly things

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I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t brought Spud the dog down to the beach with me, but the plan had been for a medative kind of meander, that was led by the eye, not the tennis ball; walking three Springer Spaniels must be a whole different ball game

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There was much  beauty hiding in plain sight

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A reminder of the lunacy of British politics flashed up every now and then.

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The tide sorts the shells by size, the waters draining from Oxwich marsh,

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sweep them out to sea again.

Oxwich Bay_.jpg


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Flowers of the Burren

The flora of the Burren, on Ireland’s West Coast, are beautiful, and world famous

Flowers Burren 14

Botanically, the Burren is one of the most fascinating regions in Western Europe with plants normally found in widely separate parts of the continent growing alongside each other. Thus mountains avens, a species usually found in sub-arctic and mountainous areas, can be found alongside such southern European species as bloody cranesbill and the dense-flowered orchid whose distribution is centred on the Mediterranean. In addition, plants ordinarily associated with acidic conditions such as heathers grow abundantly on the Burren limestone and plants typical of woodland flora commonly grown in open conditions.

There are many different habitats, meadows,

Wild flowers Burren_

deliciously cool hazel groves,

Wild flowers Burren 6 the open, and at first glance, barren, limestone pavements.

The Burren_

But it’s not just flowers of course. This little frog was beautifully camouflaged, I wanted him to hop under a shady leaf, surely his skin would burn on such a hot day?

Frog Burren

I could try naming all the flowers we saw, I’ve even got  a book to help,  Wild Plants of the Burren and th Aran Islands, by Charles Nelson, but it needs further study, I’m going to take a stab at this one, I think it O’Kelly’s spotted orchid

Flowers Burren 12

We saw an elderly couple, who looked like they might be botanists , dressed in full ‘Indiana Jones’ fatigues, with rucksack bulging, striding out along the track, having been droped off by a local taxi. It must a dream destination for them.

It’s a magical place. and one to which I’d happily retun.

Flowers Burren 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Tulip Mania

Tulip 2

Tulips under a skylight, at Burghley House

After swooning over barn owls, we moved on to Burghley House,  the plain walls and unadorned surfaces in the image above, were not the norm, opulence is the house style.

Tulip 1

A few fresh flowers make a house a home,  but I would say that.

The tulips seemed especially suitable, I’m sure a passion for tulips must have passed through this house before, a costly game. 

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That could cost you your home however stately.


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The beast from the east ate my garden

Warm weather has arrived, hooray, its been a long time coming, mind you we have a yellow weather warning for rain, so one mustn’t get too excited.

I’ve been taking stock of the damage done by the winter storms, namely the Beast from the East. There were casualties

Mahonia, euphorbia, viburnum all took a hit.

Ate my garden_

Some things seem to have been freeze dried.

Ate my garden 2

As I’m something of a sentimental gardener, I particularly sad to lose a lavender plant from my mum’s garden, and it touch and go if an Edgeworthia Chrysantha, from my father in laws garden will survive (I do have an heir and a spare so to speak, by way of another plant, potted up in a container, that I took into the barn for safe keeping)

But perhaps the thing that made me go ‘ohhhh noooo’  has been the demise of my Dad’s ‘degging can’ . I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t part of my gardening life. It was precious

Anyone know a tinsmith.

leaky watering can_