Uphilldowndale

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


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Time for Tea

It’s back! We have a phone line, we have broadband! Put the kettle on lets have a nice pot of tea.  Storm Doris is behind us at last.

Mr Uphilldowndale, Tom and I were sat at the kitchen table the other day having a cuppa; idly  we calculated  that our Denby tea pot, purchased circa 1987, has made in the region of 47,000 pots (not cups) of tea. Astounding.

teapot

Tom wryly observed ‘We wouldn’t be working this out if we had the Internet, wed have found better things to do.’ he is probably right.  It also cast my mind back to how we had the majority of our Denby Greystone crockery as wedding gifts. The very first phone call I took, to our landline, from a mobile phone  (a car phone) was about a matter of great importance, a friend and early adopter of such  technology rang to ask ‘This wedding list of yours, we’re just going shopping,  err what exactly is a  ramekin’.

Tom of course has never know a world without mobile phones and the Internet, or for that matter Denby crockery. Tom is 22 today.

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Lock Down

Our chickens continue their enforced confinement , due to the risk of them contracting Avian Flu from migrating birds, they have to stay in their run.

They’ve adapted pretty well to this change of circumstances, I’ve tried to give them things to entertain, as well as replace the amount of fresh grass  and vegetation they normally graze.  And  I’ll confess, that without thinking about it, that for a few days, I was taking them an armful of windfall apples each day, which they loved (we’ve had a prolific year for apples).

windfall 2

That was, until it occurred to me, that the migrating birds I was trying to keep away from the chickens had probably been grazing on these apples. So much for bio security!

I hasten to add that these apples are very much more munched  than back at the start of the lock down in mid December , when they were whole apples with unbroken skin

windfall


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Swanning around

Whilst out and about on our first excursion in our new campervan, we called in at Hopton Hall, we admired the snowdrops, said hello to the mossy lady. It wasn’t the most pleasant of weather whilst we were there, sleet is never quite as pretty as a light dusting of snow, so we ate cake and drank tea whilst it passed.

We admired the pair of swans on the lake, swans mate for life.

 Swan 1

Overseas readers might like to know that in the UK there is an ancient ritual called ‘swan upping’,  this isn’t it.  This is  a swan feeding.

Swaning around 2

Swan Upping is actually all about an audit of the queens stock of swans and takes place on the river Thames.  Could you ever own a swan? I imagine they please themselves? No, look,  I’m wrong again,

The Queen has a prerogative over all swans in England and Wales. The Swan Keeper also despatches swans all over the world, sent as gifts in the Queens name

They do look regal.

Swaning around 3

It got me wondering, how they keep their necks clean? I mean there is only so far  round that a beak can preen?

Swaning around 4

It all looks very high maintenance to me

Swaning around_

well worth the effort though.


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Devil May Care

You know what the devil does to blackberries after the end of September? Well he renders them inedible, by one way or another and whilst there is no mistaking Autumn is creeping along, crisp brown leaves were crabbing along the path this afternoon  in the gentle breeze.  The weather has been far warmer and sunnier than one might expect, for the beginning of October. So I decided I’d chance my arm and pick a batch of blackberries. Some were so plum and ripe they rolled off the truss into my hand.

october blackberry

There was no shortage of juice either,

october blackberry 2

Many of the best looking were high, way too high for me to reach, about 10 feet up, amongst the branches; the birds will enjoy.

october blackberry 4

  I tasted them as I went, and whilst not a flavoursome as earlier on in the season they were acceptable to partner with an apple or two, but I didn’t feel driven to  gather enough to make blackberry jelly.

The  best were in the sunniest, sheltered spots, as it seems, blackberries like cats, know where to find the hot spots.

october blackberry 3


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Norfolk Fare

I forgot to include these lovely looking fruit and nuts in my last foodie post of our travels in Norfolk.

I hear it has been a spectacular year for blueberries.

norfolk blueberries_

 

And I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a wet walnut

wet walnuts_

But I thought Hugh Fearnly-Eat-it-All might be the man to ask

Wet walnuts are a true seasonal treat, available for just a few weeks each autumn. They sound a bit messy, but don’t worry, their hard, usually slightly grubby (because unpolished) shells are quite dry – on the outside. It’s the inside that’s “wet” – still juicy and fresh, in its just-picked state. The pale blond kernels are firm but yielding, without the brittle crispness of a dried nut. And the flavour is mild, milky and sweet, with just a hint of that tannic edge that makes walnuts the sophisticate of nuts.

 

And cob nuts,  ouch £9 a punnet! By my estimation that’s about a pound a nut…

cob nuts_

Waitrose tell me they are stocking them in store this autumn and at a more thrifty price.


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A Feast For The Eyes

Mrs Ogg and I  may have had a busy programme of sight seeing on our weekend away in Norfolk. But refuelling stops were taken very seriously.

Morning coffee

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afternoon tea

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Other foodie highlights were at and a very pleasant evening meal at Balthazar wine bar in Holt and a delicious Sunday breakfast of smoked salmon and poached egg croissant at  Byfords.  I loved Byfords, not only for its food, but for its warren of  higgled-piggledy rooms each telling a tale of previous use and lives. Fascinating, right up my street.