Uphilldowndale

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


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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.

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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

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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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Sewing a Seed of Remembrance

It was almost by chance we saw the installation of poppies at the Tower of London that marked the hundredth anniversary of the start of WWI, they both moved us and captured our imagination,

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we managed to buy a poppy, and plant it on the map, just one of the 888,246 poppies that were made

It was the start of a journey, that amongst other things led us to visit Ypres in Belgium and listen to the last post at the Menin Gate We saw so many young people there, so important.

Menin Gate School

Some of the poppies  were retained from the tower, and have been exhibited around the country. We’ve managed to catch up with them in a couple of locations.

Here at Carlisle Castle, the number of poppies here are roughly the same as the number of men who signed up to serve in the war,

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within these walls, and never returned.

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to the city and surrounding villages.

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Carlisle poppy 2

Lest we forget.

 

 


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Beautiful Blackwell, a Second Look

Shall we feast our eyes on some more of the craftsmanship of Blackwell House? You seemed to enjoy the first course.  I’ve updated the header, to put the house in the context of the landscape.

Stained glass

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Textiles

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The Simpson family, certainly met that brief,

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with exquisite embroidery and woodwork  Rowan berries take centre stage, in carvings

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And iron work

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And of course mother nature provided both inspiration and the perfect foil.

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Beautiful Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House

Blackwell House is somewhere I love to return too, it’s my favourite period house, it seems I’ve not posted about it before, not sure how that happened.  I first visited here not long after it had been restored and opened to the public in 2001, its just south of the town of Windermere in the Lake District

Blackwell ext-1225.jpgBuilt in 1890, by the Holt family who had made their fortune in Manchester, and designed  architect Baillie Scott, it must have been a blast of fresh air after the dark heavy design of the Victorian period.  This is the white drawing room, that looks over lake Windermere, its so fresh and feminine.

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It’s a party house with its large spaces and mistral gallery

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It is full of glorious details,

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With wealthy industrialists coming to the area, to build their new homes away from the smoke of the cities, there was a ready market for the crafts and arts of the Keswick School of Industrial Art 

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Such delicate window latches

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Gorgeous textiles, rowan berries are a recurring motif ,

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It’s always been a place that encourages you to relax, sit in the window seats, play the piano (if able) the National Trust are moving towards this kind of experience, but Blackwell seems to do it best.

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On the upper floor there is a gallery space, that  hosts contemporary exhibitions and displays collections of period arts (these miniature Lancastrian pottery vases are my favourite, Mr Uphilldowndale, says I only want to take them home so I can feed them up)

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Speaking of food, the cafe is to be recommended too.

 


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Growing on Trees

 

There are some beautiful trees at Westbury Court Gardens,  this is star of the show

Westbury Court M'toe 3 uhdd-1A 300 year old oakWestbury Court  oak uhdd-1.jpgIt has some cohabitees, I don’t know what species of fungus is, the bees seemed quite interested in it, the beads of liquorice black, looks like the patina of Jacobean furniture, you normally see inside National Trust properties; whilst the tree is old, I don’t think the fungus is  Westbury Court  Fungi  3 uhdd-1.jpgThere were fungi that had a much fresher look,  this fabulous,  mustard yellow specimen for example, it looks smooth, not unlike like deer antler velvet (oh here I go off on a blogging tangent, who ever knew deer antler velvet was harvested for medicinal use! Not me until I just googled deer velvet to make sure I was using the correct term…)

Westbury Court  Fungi uhdd-1.jpgI think this was a species of ash tree,  I was more concerned in avoiding the bees nest we were warned that was lurking under the bark, or at least making sure Mr Uhdd, kept out of their way,  (they don’t get on very well) Westbury Court  Fungi  2 uhdd-1.jpgThere was a lovely cluster of the  semi parasitic plant mistletoe it doesn’t grow in ‘up north’ so I was interested to get a close look,  I don’t usaly get a look any closer that spotting its globe like form in the bare winter trees as we whizz down the M50Westbury Court M'toe 2 uhdd-1I think the host tree was a species of hawthorn,  I being botanically lax in this post aren’t I?Westbury Court  M'toe  4uhdd-1.jpgWhat I do know is what grows on trees, falls off, naturally. Falling conker


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Flower of the Hour

Hibiscus

Hibiscus trionum, AKA the Flower-of-an Hour,

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I can live with the ephemeral life of the flower, if it delivers such delightful seed heads ( @ £1.95 for a packet of seeds, I might have to have a crack at growing these).

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Spotted during a brief* visit to Westbury Court Garden which was a little gem of a place.

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Laid out in 1696-1715 its a Dutch style water garden,

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its first lucky break was to fall off the fashion radar at the time of Capability Brown’s Landscape School, when many such gardens were destroyed,

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secondly was to be rescued by the National Trust in 1967, in a state of neglect and disrepair, and thirdly was the archive materials, that showed which plants were planted where, how many of each and how much they cost (more or less than £1.95 I wonder?)

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A rather romantic vibe

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Although I imagine the A48 was quieter then!

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*Flat tyre on the M5, delayed our journey, it’s not a nice place to be, on the hard shoulder, with traffic thundering past; glad when we were safely on our way again after the support of the RAC. When it comes to changing tyres on the motorway, leave it to the experts, it delayed us by an hour, which is nothing in the scheme of things. .