Uphilldowndale

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


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On the home front

 

I hope you guys are all OK, I’ve not managed to find my blogging mojo through the last three weeks.  I’ve not really been able to concentrate on much to be honest, I’ve not read a single book.  I’ve made a lot of soup, which comforts twice I always find, its soothing to prepare and to eat, and fills the kitchen with homely cooking aromas.

Outside spring it carrying on a pace, and as far as the garden is concerned I’m not keeping pace!

We’ve Joe is home with us, from what was to have been his final months of study in Swansea, we did a round trip in a day, to gather  up both him and his worldly goods before lock-down. Poor Spud the dog, he was bewildered, he spent over 12 hours in the camper van, and ended up back where he started, without so much as a grain of sand between his toes.  Tom is locked down in Wanaka in New Zealand,  I try not to think about the fact we couldn’t get on a plane and go to him, or he to us if the need arose. But I know he’s in a good place with good mates, and a country that didn’t falter to put it’s citizens health first.

Here are some sunny New Zealand Lupins

Yellow Lupin_

We’re keeping our heads down, and feeling very lucky indeed to have the space both indoors and out for it not to be too claustrophobic.  We’ve been alarmed by the numbers of people that came to Derbyshire and the Peak District, we’d like to keep the numbers down.

Suspension bridge New Zealand

NZ bridge x10

Stay safe xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i thought I’d share a sunny


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On reflection

A world of blogs and blog buddies is a good place to escape to right now.

There is only so much of the Covid-19 news stream that can be taken at one time. We need to pace our selves for the long haul, when we can’t see what lies ahead.

NZ self portrait

I’m planning to continue  blog the journey through the photos of New Zealand, from November 2019, when things seemed simpler and more secure. I’m going to try and find things of beauty to share here, to bring a little fresh air to our days. To nourish and to salve.

We are all going to need to look out for others as well as ourselves. When I talk to people who are carers,  I often use the analogy of the drop down emergency oxygen masks on planes, and the instruction to put it on yourself first, before you can help others.  Let yourself breath. A little bit of mindfulness, some exercise if you can, a warm bath, a phone call to a good friend. Little things can make a difference.

Before I disappear into the beauty of New Zealand again,

NZ Lupin pink and blue_

Please be careful where you take your Covid-19 information and advice from, there is a lot of misinformation out there  

Overseas readers might be surprised to learn that Derbyshire has history when it comes to containment of disease, of sacrifices by a community to protect others.  Dating back to 1665 in  and the  ‘plague’ village of Eyam   It seems all the more extraordinary when you think about how little they knew about how disease is transmitted!

An outdoor church service at Eyam in 1666, from a display in the local museum.

Stay safe.


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Dig Deep

I want to go to Big Pit, said Mr Uphilldowndale, after we’d been wallowing in the history of the industrial revolution in Ironbridge. ‘That sounds interesting’ I said, ‘but I’m not going down it.’ For decades Mr Uphilldowndale has been regaling me with his description of what it was like, back in the very early 1980’s, when he went down to the  48 inch thick coal face of Emley Moor colliery and there was no way I was going to be wriggling around 300 feet underground. Far to claustrophobic for my liking.

So we  headed south into Wales and rolled up at Big Pitt,

Big Pit National Coal Museum (Welsh: Pwll Mawr Amgueddfa Lofaol Cymru) is an industrial heritage museum in Blaenavon, Torfaen, South Wales. A working coal mine from 1880 to 1980, it was opened to the public in 1983 under the auspices of the National Museum of Wales. The site is dedicated to operational preservation of the Welsh heritage of coal mining, which took place during the Industrial revolution.

big pitt

Mr UHDD went to check the lie of the land and came back to tell me that I wouldn’t have to crawl around I could stand up throughout our tour, that admission was free (I had been feeding the dogs) and that we were going down the pit now, as they were expecting 70 school children to arrive in twenty minutes time. So cajoled by added headroom and propelled by the thought of not wanting to be caught up amongst 70 children in a confined space we were on our way down Big Pit.

No photos allowed I’m afraid, cameras, phones, digital watches are all contrabrand

The mine is covered by HM Inspectorate of Mines regulations, because it is still classed as a working pit.[4] Visitors wear a plastic hard hat, safety lamp, and a battery on a waist belt which weighs 5 kilograms (11 lb). Visitors must also carry on their belt a rebreather, which in case of emergency will filter foul air for approximately one hour, giving a chance for survival and escape.[40]

The tour guides are men who used to work at the coal face, or either Big Pit or another colliery, so you got a real flavour of what it was like ‘in their day’ and plenty of history too. Who can start to imagine what it was like for children,  working underground.  There was enough to  see and hear about keep my attention from wandering to the fact, I was in a coal mine, most of the time.  I was surprised about the amount of woodworm in the pit props and timbers though! They can’t treat the timber with chemicals, they just have to keep on replacing it.

They had some beautiful shiny miners lamps, I’ve one at home, it looks a little neglected to compared to Big Pit’s lamps. No canaries down the mine but they did have some in the lamp room (I hadn’t been reunited with my camera at this point!)

Big pit canary

Plenty to see around the mine

big pitt bogies_

Many of the original buildings are accessible,  from the explosives store,

big pitt book

to the medical room,

Medical room Big Pitt

And displays of equipment and ephemera.

Big pit nurse poster

The locker room, what a lot of lockers! I’d never thought about the fact a miner would have two lockers, one for his coal soiled clothes and one for his clean clothes.

lockers

I can imagine both would have been popular.

smoking and spitting_

The arrival of ‘pit head baths’ must have transformed the daily routine, for the miners and the women at home…  I love these towels, their style is on the edge of my childhood memory.

showers big pitt

In the showers they also had a recording of  singing, I thought it was Tom Jones, but then a lot of Welsh miners would have sounded like Tom Jones…

 

 

 


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The Day After the Guns Fell Silent

I’ve tried to imagine what it was like as the troops started to come home. To a landscape that had changed forever.  And wondered what those who came home, brought home with them.

Farewell_.jpg

 

Memories so horrific, that they could never be spoken of, so horrific that they haunt the subconscious twenty four hours a day. Shattered lives, broken bodies and minds, the camaraderie of shared experiences, disbanded.

Peace Poppy Cornflower

Flowers of remembrance, Flanders Fields Museum Ypres Belgium

We went to the local park, its a memorial park, with a war memorial, we gathered round at 11am, for an act of remembrance and of course two minutes silence. The rain stopped, a wind shook the trees, and a drifts of amber coloured beech leaves drifted down on us, it was easy to think of them as poppy petals.

It was special, and a lot of people had worked very hard to make it so. As just a few weeks a go a mighty oak had fallen and smashed the memorial, it was  quickly made safe and temporary repairs put in place (fortunately they panels inscribed with names, survived the impact).

There has been a lot to learn about the Great War. I’ve been discussing and reading about how  those grieving (and there can’t be many who weren’t) coped in the aftermath of WWI. It seems that it  many ways, open display of grief was suppressed as it seemed like the only way of coping. Maybe its something we’ve made a habit of?

It made me think of the other fallen oak I’d seen this year, in the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres

Ypres Oak slice_

The dark stains are caused by the wounds of war

Oak detail

I’ve heard grief described like this, as rings within a tree, grief is not something that goes away, or is ‘got over’; its wounds stay there, inside, time passes, but the wounds, like in the damaged rings of this tree, are there, deep within and hidden from view, but always there.

Lest we forget.


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Daily Bread

Continuing our journey along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Altar church

Altar Church, beside Toormore Bay on the Mizen Peninsula, near Ireland’s southernmost point, is also known as Teampol na mBocht, the Church of the Poor.

It was built in 1847, at the height of the Great Famine.

Before we set off on our journey, knew a little about Ireland’s Great Famine, we knew a little, but we didn’t comprehend its enormity nor its horror.

This church was built, to provide work for the starving.

During Black ’47, The Illustrated London News reported that in the village of Schull, five miles from Toormore, an average of 25 men, women and children were dying every day of starvation, dysentery or famine fever.  At nearby Cove, the population fell from 254 in 1841 to 53 in 1851.

 


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N is for nurse

For me part of trying to understand the Great War is about trying to understand the social norms of the time. 

N are the nurses-103001

And what was ‘the norm’ seems  strange and sometimes abhorrent now.  Attitudes to gender, race, class,  the fate of those that were shot at dawn, for cowardice, for what now would have been recognised as shell shock.

Both Mr Uphilldowndale and I have family that were either medical orderlies or medics,  my great uncle is on the far left of this photo, I’m assuming he would have served with the Sherwood Foresters regiment, but I’m not sure. (If any passing reader can tell me anything about when and where this photo was taken, please do, as there is not detail written on the back).

WW1 Medical

It was when I saw the bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery  that was used as am advanced dressing station the grim reality of the conditions hit me. Confined and claustrophobic,  the stream of catastrophically wounded soldiers that passed under its gas curtain is an unbearable thought. 

It is the grim reality that adjacent to the advanced dressing stations were the hastily dug graves, that became the last resting place of many of the casualties. I suppose at least these guys had a marked grave.  Small mercies.

Women weren’t allowed this close to the front, they were further back in the evacuation line, which was all things considered very sophisticated, and necessity being the mother of invention the Great War led to many medical advances that we take for granted today. But at such a cost.

Nurse Nellie Spindler was one of only two women to be killed and buried in Belgium during the Great War, she was a Yorkshire lass.

Watch and listen here


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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