Uphilldowndale

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


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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…

Thrush nesting

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.

please leave as you find

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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Christmas at Kew

We returned to  the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew last week, you might remember we have a special family connection to Kew.  We attended the preview night of their Christmas at Kew event.

We had a lovely, colourful time.

Kew Christmas Lights_

The candle lights were a big hit with the grown ups, we loved the smell; they had a touch of the pagan about them (the Wicker Man was mentioned) , my photos don’t do them justice, they seemed to go on into infinity, and that was beyond my skills.

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Grown ups and youngsters liked the curtain of light, very tactile.

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and great fun even if the photos were a bit hit and miss!

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Mr Uphilldowndale had a go at finding his inner child, I couldn’t keep up (nor would I want too, I can feel nauseous on the Pendoino trains*)

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The palm house is my favourite, from every direction, it makes such a fabulous canvas for the lights.

palm house Paxton

The palm house was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, I think he’d have been impressed by the theatre of it all. 

* The train is forgiven, we can leave Euston station in London and be turning the key in the front door  just over two hours later.


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Four birds in the bush

And so it snowed, at first light the birds were on a foraging mission. There were four beautifully plumed thrushes in my precious pink rowan tree.

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I’m very happy to share the berries with these gorgeous  birds. Their markings always make me think of spotted dick pudding. But then who wouldn’t think of a steamed suet pudding on a snowy November day, or maybe I’m just a little odd…

There was more snow, and its hung around longer, than I expected. The air temperature has hovered just above freezing, plus a sharp wind chill;  the sheep in a neighbouring field lined up to harvest the sun’s warmth against the drystone walls. Wise sheep.

sheep warming_


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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,

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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.

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  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.

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