Uphilldowndale

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


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Fair Game

During the short winter days, the birds arriving at our garden feeder bring us great pleasure.  For the last few years a regular visitor has been a pheasant,  we’d become very fond of him. 

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We called him Fezzie 

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Maybe Fezzie got a little too bold, complacent, let his guard drop? Or maybe he just ate too much of the hen food to be fighting fit?  You can tell where this post is heading can’t you?

Sadly, I’m afraid Fezzie is no more, we found his limp body being dragged towards the cat flap, by Dodger the cat, remember him? The butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, cool little kitten cat?

Now, as we later discovered that Dodger had cornered and killed Fezzie in the chicken run, which is the best part of 30 yards from the house, it means that he dragged Fezzie, quite some distance uphill! But then again he always did have ideas above his station…

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Seasons Greetings

We seem to have skipped along a season since I last published a post.  Which is a shame, its not that there hasn’t been anything to blog about, there has been plenty.

Lets start with an easy win…

A beautiful thrush, feasting on the berries of my pink rowan. 

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He’s quite protective of this crop, I can’t quite work out if he expends more energy chasing off the blackbirds than he gains in berries he could have eaten.  Surely there is enough for everyone?

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Home Sweet Home

Dark nights and cold weather may have arrived, but I’m still traveling through the  Orkney  islands and on the North coast 500 route of Scotland, it’s May and June 2017.

This was once the private home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, the  Castle of Mey. It is now open to the public.

We arrived early, before the gates were open,

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the drive looks like you are arriving at a fairy tale castle, I’m sure in a certain light these trees could look a little menacing, but paved with daisies, they look enchanting.  I whiled away the time chatting to a robin, who posed in the hawthorn blossom

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The Queen Mother fell in love with this place, when she was mourning the death of her husband, it was derelict.  But not now, its rather beautiful,  you could just imagine the Queen Mum, floating around the gardens of a summer morning with the corgis in tow.

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The house is open to the public, but you can’t take photos,  for copyright and security reasons we were told, which I can understand: undoubtedly there is a good dollop of ‘set dressing’ for the benefit of the public, but it is non the less an interesting view of her home.

We dodged the showers,  to tour the gardens, which are gorgeous,

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Look, light and flowers, they seem like a distant memory already.

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I have to show you the rhubarb, magnificent, but then everywhere in the far north of Scotland, from derelict crofts to royal residences seems to, the most handsome rhubarb.

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A feature of many fields in the area, are slabs of stone used as walls, I do like a nice stone wall, these are stood to attention, as one might expect, those of the field were rather less regular.

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The veg patch was on a grand scale.

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And the ‘scarecrows’ had a vernacular style!

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The Big Build

There is a whole lot of nest building going on.  I’m not sure how this thrush managed to find its way back to the nest site…

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But it did.

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We’re a little concerned as it seems a very exposed site, in an oak tree near the pond.

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It’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the cats to be up there. We’ve already had  the bodies two young rabbits, two robins and three mice on the door mat, in the last couple of weeks. I suppose when the leaves open it will be better hidden. Fingers crossed. 


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Early Doors

We were down in London last weekend. We took some time out to visit Kew  Botanical Gardens, it was three days after my annual pass expired. Sigh.

As we renewed the pass one of the staff commented ‘You’ll need that, you’ll be wanting to come to the orchid festival’

Yes, I thought, that’s why we’re here today. 

It starts tomorrow’ she continued. I was crest fallen, I’d really been looking forward to seeing it, I’ve often managed to ‘just miss’ finding out about  exhibitions, I’d never managed to arrive before one started before! I really should pay more attention…

And whilst the staff were in the throws of the final ‘set dressing’ of the displays, we could still access the glass houses, so all was not lost.

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a floating wheelbarrow, how cool is that. Some of the displays certainly took me back to my days worked as a florist (this one reminded me of a funeral tribute we made for a traveller family, it was so big that after we’d finished it we realised we couldn’t get it up the stairs from the basement workroom!)

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The scent of this stephanotis, was a flash back to the 1970’s and many hours spent  as a junior  florist wiring the individual florets to be used in bridal bouquets

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And there were delicately strung dried helichrysum blooms, waiting to be artistically draped, what a labour of love.

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But enough of them, we’re here for the orchids

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we were not disappointed,

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they were everywhere even strung from the roof.

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Another floristry flash back, cymbidium orchids, the ‘go to’ flower for the mother of the bride in the 1980’s, not one bloom but two, as my colleague used to say, ‘that’s not a corsage its a ‘bustenklamper’.

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I think this slipper orchid was my favourite

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Or was it this one? I like growing orchids, it always seems like I’ve achieved something clever when they flower, although it’s not magic on my part,

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I do tend to guild the lily a little sometimes. But the greatest orchid thrill was the wild orchid that randomly, just popped up in the lawn a few years ago,  sadly it’s never made another appearance.

We may have missed out a little on the final flourishes of the festival, but that really didn’t matter.

* Early doors


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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,

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and  historic

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not to mention scientific

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the precious seeds are nurtured,

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

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

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where highly skilled staff  cater for their every need

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Oh how I love the shapes,

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forms

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and colours to be found in nature

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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.

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There is scrumptious sculpture

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and wild meadows

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

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