Uphilldowndale

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


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Ghost Soldiers and Bird Song

I went to our  local park today, to the war memorial where there was a service to commemorate the  anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme.

I have to say the blowing of a whistle at the start of the service, chilled my blood. What a thought, that 19,420  lives were lost that day.

On 1st July 1916 at 07.30am, whistles blew all along the British front line driving thousands of troops out of the trenches into No Man’s Land as the Battle of the Somme began.

The park was built as a memorial to those who lost  their lives during World War I, and during the two minutes silence I was struck by the sweet scent of roses drifting up from the flower beds and the bird song from the surrounding, and now mighty trees. I could pick out the cheeky chatter of long tailed tits

Long-tailed tit, windy day

Birdsong must have been the last thing the soldiers heard before the guns

From Bivouacs by Gilbert Waterhouse

In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.

It was very moving, and I don’t think had I seen these  ‘ghost soldiers’ today, moving speechlessly through our cities, each one  simply carrying a card with the name and age of a soldier they represented. I could have helped but shed a tear. What a powerful piece of art.

'Ghost Tommies' at Waterloo Station in London


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Time and Tide Part II (and a little bit)

Yesterday Gerry asked what the view was like looking inland, from the site of the wreck of the Helevita, ‘would it be this isolated or would it show a cheerful holiday destination?’

I don’t think much can have changed since the night of the wreck, although there might be more bracken (which is what is being burnt off, left of shot)

Rhosilli Bay 2

The house, the Old Rectory, is  owned by The National Trust and is available for holiday lets.

Rhosilli Bay_


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Time and Tide Part II

I was giving you a tour of Rhosilli Bay on the Gower Peninsular,  but I got distracted. It happens.

I thought you might like to see the remains of   the Helvetia, wrecked  in 1887

Wreck

It is amazing that the tides and pounding storms of the last 129 years haven’t swept away every trace of this ship, especially as it was extensively salvaged.

And given that these are timbers, wood, a natural, bio-degradable material, and they are still with on this beach,  just think  of plastic and of its non bio-degradable qualities, and hold that thought, for a post or two.

Its old  timber bones have simply slumped into the sands

Wreck 3 

Explorer Edgar Evans, was born in Rhosilli in in 1876, its said* that as a young boy seeing the drama of the wrecking of the Helvetia was in part, instrumental in him joining the navy, where he became a member of the “Polar Party” in Robert Falcon Scott‘s ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole in 1911–1912 from which he never returned.

Worms head_

* I did read that bit in the pub in Rhosilli, I think I’ve got the detail right. I’m sure someone will correct me if needs be.


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Magpie Mine

Magpie mine, an ancient and historic lead mine, near Sheldon in the Peak District, here having a bit of a winter solstice type moment. 

Magpie Mine sun flare 2

Lead smelting has been going on in Derbyshire for 3500 years  It a fascinating place,  let me give you a tour round, but let’s take care.

 Magpie Mine Notice_

There is something about the place that doesn’t feel quite right, I think it is the lack of accoutrements to the working life that once thrived here. It would have teamed with life,  there would have been noise, smoke, the rattle of harnesses as horses turned the gin wheel. But now It does feel rather eerie.

Magpie Mine buildings  2

You can almost feel the life it once had but not quite. It’s as though there is a life inside and below that we can never know.

Magpie Mine Back lit window_

Something going on behind these locked doors.

Magpie Mine door

As though the shadow of the gallows frame, might start to turn.

Magpie Mine Back Pit Head Shadows_

Mr Uphilldowndale however is less fanciful than me, he wants me to point out to you, how the lower section of  the chimney in this image is out of plumb* and when a later  brick extension to top has been built they’ve built it vertically, he’s forever the engineer.

Magpie Mine Laning Chimney_

We both admired the tunnel flu to this chimney, now partially collapsed

chimney magpie mine_

we admired the view too

Engine shed  magpie mine_

All around the site are the remnants of spoil from the mine, a bing 

 Magpie Mine Gate Spoil Heaps_

Spoil from lead mines, still poses a problem for farmers, and can kill livestock .  You can often see  clusters of trees, usually with walls around them,

spoil trees wall Magpie mine

the trees to cover the spoil with their roots,  and the walls as an added deterrent to livestock

 trees wall Magpie mine

Nature takes its course though and flowers and plants grow here that can tolerate the toxicity of the soil ‘metallophytes’,

plants such as the nationally scarce spring sandwort (known locally as leadwort) and alpine penny cress, and Pyrenean

survy grass and mountain pansy.

sky magpie mine_

 

*Plumb, did you see what I did there? [Middle English, lead, a plumb, from Old French plomb, from Latin plumbum, lead.]

17/2/16 Edit…   Lost and now found, the link that has to go with this post,  Peak District Mines Historical Society


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The Problem Solved

I’m always curious to peep into a box of mystery items, I came across this on my travels this week.

A book, published in 1900. The Problem Solved, a practical treatise on artificial incubation and chicken rearing. What a title.

 The problem solved_

A quick scoot around the Internet shows me that that the title reprinted many times, and translated into French. According to the box, this particular copy was found in a empty farm house that was about to be demolished to make way for a quarry.

Hearson’s Patent Champion Incubator or not, Rocky our cockerel, will be pleased to note that he can’t be cut out of the process of rearing chick.  He has been growing new feather of late, just to let the girls know he is in peak form.

new feathers 2

I know I’ve blogged about new feathers before, but it’s a process that never fails to interest me. The way the quill grows first, the tip breaks off and the new feather emerges like a fine paint brush

new feathers 3

Here he’s giving them a bit of a ruffle.  Clever isn’t it?

new feathers 4


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Unknown Names

Not named

I found the image above in the box of family photos. It’s not named, which is rather sad.

I do know the name of this young man, but nothing about his uniform and medal. Can any readers help me?

Jack Winterbottom

Here he is again, a man now and looking rather dashing.

Jack Winterbottom adult

I went down to the service at the war memorial on Sunday, I’d not been able to go for the last couple of years. It was sad to note that the WWII two veterans were not there. Suddenly, it seems, there has been passing of a generation. I missed them;  but I’ll not forget them, we will remember them.


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Tour of Britain

Stage Six. Far from the maddening crowd; less atmospheric than  watching in the villages I suspect, but an  impressive cavalcade non the less.

I made my way up above the road know locally as Long Hill, for a birds eye view. It was blustery but warm and fine, which was just as well as in my haste I’d left my boots at home, and I’d had to tip toe across the fields in girly shoes from where I’d parked my car.

Tour of Britain. The wrong shoes

I watched a bit of traditional hay making while I waited (you can see we were a select bunch of spectators)

Tour of Britain  Hay making_

Some beautiful clouds skit by

Nice clouds_

I mused on how the road has changed over the centuries, you can still see the old road, snaking its way up through the centre of this image.  A steep and difficult climb for horses and stagecoaches.  That was superseded by the first toll road in 1780 built by John Metcalf of Knaresbourgh Yorkshire, known as Blind Jack

Long Hill 2

The road now sweeps along with the contours of the valley.

Long Hill_

At last they came,

Tour of Britain 3

and went

Tour of Britain Long Hill 4

in a flash!

Tour of Britain 4

It’s a spot I must return too, another day, there are grand views in all directions.

Tour of Britain Long Hill 6

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