Uphilldowndale

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


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Kew Palace

We’ve been to London, not see the Queen, but to see family, and whilst we were there we did two things, we went to the National Archives, to take a look at the war diaries of the time my father spent in Burma, during WWII  with the 864 ME  Coy Royal Engineers.  It was an emotional experience.  And deserves a blog post of its own. I need a little time to bring my thoughts together first though. 

Afterwards, to decompress, we went to Kew Botanical Gardens, a favourite place.

We’d not been to Kew Palace before (which stands within the gardens) its a gem of building. Imbued with history, its been a home to the Royal family as far back as 1729.

Kew Palace

But what we liked about its that for the best part of two centuries it stood empty,  which meant many things were left unchanged, it escaped the passing fashions of the time.

I thought the soft light and the colour of the clerks of the kitchen’s office rather special. 

Kew Palace blue_

The dinning room  is set for the first meal King George was allowed to eat with a knife, as he recuperated from a period ‘of madness’ at Kew

In 1788 the whole nation was thrown into turmoil as the King was declared ‘mad’ after the onset of a mysterious illness, probably porphyria. This is a hereditary blood disorder that can cause temporary mental derangement.

Roast rabbit was on the menu, I think you might wish to take a knife to it!

Roast rabbit_

They were not the only delicacies…

Kew Palace dinner

The top floor of the building is unrestored,  we liked seeing the way the building was put together,

Kew Palace door

I’m always drawn to a little sparkle though

Kew Palace_

The room guides were as imbued with the history as the building itself.  We’d have missed the detail and craftsmanship of this  original window, were it not for the guide

Kew Palace window

And who knew the Royal Palaces have a sash window expert that maintain these troublesome devices so they can be lifted with a finger.


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Time for Tea

It’s back! We have a phone line, we have broadband! Put the kettle on lets have a nice pot of tea.  Storm Doris is behind us at last.

Mr Uphilldowndale, Tom and I were sat at the kitchen table the other day having a cuppa; idly  we calculated  that our Denby tea pot, purchased circa 1987, has made in the region of 47,000 pots (not cups) of tea. Astounding.

teapot

Tom wryly observed ‘We wouldn’t be working this out if we had the Internet, wed have found better things to do.’ he is probably right.  It also cast my mind back to how we had the majority of our Denby Greystone crockery as wedding gifts. The very first phone call I took, to our landline, from a mobile phone  (a car phone) was about a matter of great importance, a friend and early adopter of such  technology rang to ask ‘This wedding list of yours, we’re just going shopping,  err what exactly is a  ramekin’.

Tom of course has never know a world without mobile phones and the Internet, or for that matter Denby crockery. Tom is 22 today.


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Twekesbury Abbey

We travelled to Teweksbury Abbey between Christmas and New Year; sadly it was for the funeral of Mr Uphilldowndale’s Godfather.

The Abbey was gloriously decorated for Christmas, I’ve just few camera snaps, taken after the service, but I think you can see what I mean

Christmas Abbey

The music, especially the singing, was very special: members of the Ebor Singers had made it through the ice and fog to sing. It was quite magical and gave me goose bumps.

The low winter sun, made the stained glass look spectacular.

Felix funeral 3

As it was a cold, foggy and icy day, we were please to find two of the these  imposing Gurney heaters, installed in the abbey in 1875 

Gurney heater

Even with such beasts of heaters, I was so glad I’d worn my winter coat. ( I nearly didn’t take my coat, just a jacket as I have a habit of being the overdressed northerner at family occasions south of Birmingham!)

As music is in the DNA of Mr UHDD’s family, so is an interest and admiration of the manufacture of such a magnificent piece of engineering.  Mr UHDD couldn’t resist a closer look at its  inner workings. His Godfather would have thought it a commendable curiosity, of that I’m quite sure.

Gurney heater 2


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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