Uphilldowndale

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


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The Luxury of Lux

The sun shone brightly today, it’s been so grey, I was quite giddy with it.

Tulips on my desk glowed

tulip sunlight

The hazel catkins, as hot as mustard

hazel catkins_

Pussy willow, shooting stars against a deep blue sky.

pussy willow star light

The Christmas lights in the kitchen window (I can never bring myself to take down all the lights, until at least late January, I need  a little sparkle on the darkest days) caught the sunlight and were truly solar powered

solar powered fair lights

Then in a magical moment they flashed a rainbow  across the kitchen sink to the north side of the house.

rainbow and the kitchen sink

(These swift  light markers of the changes of the seasons, we call ‘sun on the lintel’ moments).

Hummm, the light  also indicated that a little house work might be in order, cobwebs on the fireplace,cobweb fire place.jpg

but that can wait. I’m off out into the sunshine.

 


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Time Capsule

Haddon Hall Derbyshire,  a film makers dream location.

Haddon Hall ext.jpg

Haddon Hall is probably the finest example of a fortified medieval manor house in existence. Present-day Haddon Hall dates from the 12th Century to the early 17th Century, whereupon it lay dormant for over two hundred years from 1700 until the 1920s, when the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house and gardens, and once again made it habitable.

Haddon garden 2.jpg

So the key was turned and other than a house keeper and gardener, the house was left untouched for two hundred years (I’m guessing more than one house keeper and gardener were involved.)

Such neglect has meant that many of its early features remain.  This is the kitchen, to the left the chopping block, on the wooden uprights you can see the blackened burn marks, from the rush tapers used for light.  I adore the stone step, just imagine how many feet have dashed across this threshold, to  wear it so deeply,

Haddon kitchen step and block

The main entrance hall also shows where ancient feet have trod. I wonder what precious goods the chest on the left once held.

Haddon Hall 6

Only the very wealthy would have had goods to keep safe, deeds, fine linen, pewter; the family obviously had quite a bit to stash away.

Haddon Chests_

Not sure they’d have a TV room though.

Haddon TV room!

The house is decorated for Christmas, with music each day, handbells they day we visited, so pretty.

Haddon main hall_.jpg

My it was cold though, it seemed a little warmer in the garden, in the pale winter sun

Haddon garden.jpg

Rooms that had fires lit were very welcome.

Haddon fire.jpg

Although some of the fireplaces seemed pitifully small, maybe the fourth chair leg was used to pep the fire up a bit?

Haddon small fireplace.jpg

On a more serious note, we paused to reflect that fire safety regulations were made and enforced as far back as Tudor times, the people of Grenfell Tower have been let down dreadfully by our government.

Haddon fire regulations_

And many more people continue to live in homes that are unsafe. It’s appalling.

 

 


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Applied Art

I came across a beautiful gatepost today, crafted not just to carry the weight of a gate, but something rather handsome too. It was hewn from the lovely soft blush pink gritstone that can be seen in many of the very old houses around here, the quarries it came from, long since worked out and disused. It’s a precious stone to those of us who live within its walls.

It was facing its partner, however I don’t think they spent their lifetimes together, but they had common ground. Both posher that your average gatepost.


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AWOL

It’s been a while since I tended my blog, the main reason has been, that Spud the dog has been in a bit of bother.

It started innocently enough, a game of ball in the field, we know he loves a ball.

New balls

It’s something  we’ve done thousands of times.  This time though, Spud the dog was in big trouble.

Spaniel Elbow

Mr Uphilldowndale, threw the ball and turned back to what he was doing, he heard Spud yowl, and looked up to see him on the ground.  His leg was limp like a ragdoll’s.

We rushed him to the local vets, who instantly knew what had happened. This my friends is Spaniel Elbow, who ever knew of such a thing, in layman’s terms, it’s a weakness where the bone in the elbow fuses, so that if it fails, the  resulting pressure on the bone  causes it to fracture, in one or, worse case scenario two places, a Y fracture, this is what happened to Spud. 

He spent the night in the care of the local vets, the surgery he needed was a specialist procedure, and we were referred to the Pride Park  veterinary centre  in Derby.  He was operated on the next day, its a procedure we were told, that is about ‘as complicated as canine orthopaedic surgery gets’. If he didn’t have surgery, the legs would have been amputated.  Here he is when he got home after three nights at the ‘hospital’

Ben Post Op

He’s had six weeks of crate rest, heavy weight pain relief and just short lead trips out to the garden to relieve himself ; tricky for a Springer, but he’s been a model patient*. His follow up x-rays show  the bone has now healed and he can now start to get moving again, to build up some strength in what his vet calls ‘his chicken leg’, he’s lost a lot of muscle tone.  He’s started having a course of hydrotherapy, which loosens him up a treat, he’s supposed to be tired after it, but he just gets giddy, I think it is because it makes him feel more like his old self, he wants to play again. 

Ben Hydro

Reading this post, I can see I’ve sifted out a lot of the emotions we’ve been through. We were all very upset as you can imagine.  Everyone has been so kind** and skilled. There are two things people want to know, was it expensive? Yes it was, and were you insured? No we weren’t.

* Spud scared the living daylights out of us all, when he tried to leap onto the vets examination table, just a few days post surgery! Ironically we’d been shown into an empty consulting room, so as to keep him quiet and still, away from the busy waiting room!

** When Mr Uphilldowndale rang me to ask me to say ‘get home quick’ I was in the middle of a shopping at Waitrose. I abandoned my trolley full of shopping, calling to a member of staff as I fled the store.  A few days later, I returned to try again, I saw the member of staff and apologised for leaving them to sort out my shopping, and explained what had happened.  As I was paying for my shopping, a dog bone came down the conveyor, amongst my shopping, I was confused, I hadn’t put a bone in my shopping? Where had it come from? The supervisor appeared at my side, ‘A bone for your dog, with the compliments of Waitrose, we hope he is better soon…’  


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Bless This House

One of the reasons I’ve been absent from blogging  of late, is that we’ve had quite a big building project going on. I’ve no complaints about the guys working here, they’ve been great, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and you certainly can’t knock an old house about without some disruption, noise and dust. It’s a scheme of works we’ve been planning for a long time

Construction gets in your head space, making decisions and sourcing everything from light switches to windows, gobbles up a vast amount of time  energy and money.

We’ve tried to chose our building materials carefully, recycling where ever possible,

IMG_0271

trying to do justice to the existing building. In addition we’ve been bringing insulation up to a higher standard.  Here is Rocky the cockerel checking out the acoustics and the under floor heating ( which is heated by  ground source heat pump).

bless this house_

 

I was pleased when I found that we got to the ‘soft stuff,’  curtains, furniture, pot plants even. I went shopping at Ikea, at the checkout, I helped the Chinese couple in front of me in the queue to find the ubiquitous and ever useful Ikea ‘big blue bags’ I must have earned myself some good karma, for in return they explained that the house plant I had in my trolley was good feng shui for our home, and that it would bring us good fortune.

bless this house 2

All I can say is it certainly seems to be flourishing

good fortune 3

and I am indeed fortunate to have such a beautiful space, Spud and Jammy agree.

Ben Squeak_


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Domestic Upheaval

One of these days I’ll give you the full story, which must run to  a couple of dozen posts, but for this evening I’ll just say there has been a lot going on around here, especially for the last week; so much so that Dodger the kitten cat left home for three days, in disgust. His belly led him back, just as I’d drafted the ‘lost cat’ email to the neighbours. We are relieved to see him.

There have been moments of great beauty,  rolling mist framed by alpine blues, ebbing in and out of the valley

trees mist

 

Branches, twigs, encased in ice

oak apples

Oak apples

Ash tree ice_

An ash tree, where the ash keys once were.

But for the most part, it has been grey, muddy; and oh yes, very dusty. There is nothing quite like ancient dust, it has a  penetrating power of its own. The haze in this photo, is not poor image quality, oh no, it is dust.

This is the kitchen.

dusty kitchen_ 

can you see why my blog lies unattended?