Uphilldowndale

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


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Crab apple way

A few nights away in Cumbria, nr Ullswater, at one of our favourite sites, The Quiet Site (not sure why I’m telling you about it, every one will want to go, what with it’s swishy new zero waste shop an’ all   In the morning Mr Uphilldowndale had been charging around the hills on his bike, I put the kettle on to boil, to sustain my needs for tea and curled up under the duvet with a book, what a treat. Spud the dog snoozed contentedly.  In the afternoon we took a gentle walk along a track near the site, whilst the surface has been sealed at some time it looked little used by traffic.

Apple walk 3

We were surprised by the number and variety of crab apple trees we passed. I know that south Cubria is famed for its damsons, in fact the Westmorland Damson Association, celebrates them in every way.  

But I’d not seen so many apples before, It must look very pretty when they are in bloom, and a source of food for wildlife through the seasons.

Apple walk 8

They are hardy looking trees, that don’t give up when they are down

Apple walk 2

So many colours, bronze green

Apple walk 13

acid greens,

Apple walk

honeyed yellows

Apple walk 4

rusty red

Apple walk 10

rich plum shades

Apple walk 7

We don’t see crab apples in our hedgerows here in north Derbyshire, I tried asking a local, about how come there are so many varieties in just a mile or so of track, they weren’t very forth coming.

Apple walk 5

They can hardly have germinated from an apple cast aside by a passing car or (cart) can they?

The trees arising from discarded cores are genuine wildings, each one unique and with the potential to contribute their characteristics back into the apple gene pool, 

 

The apples had out paced the blackberries, the devil had seen to that.

Apple walk 6

Spud the dog usually like to bring home an apple or two, but these seem to have been a little too tart of his tastes.

Apple walk 12

 

 

 

 

 


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Inside Eden

We decided on balance, we’d rather be warm and wet than cold and wet, so we didn’t linger outside in the grounds of The Eden Project, we went in to the rainforest biome,

Eden weather

It took a while for my lens to clear and even then, it was hard to capture the scale, I’ll settle for  telling you it is massive.

The Rainforest Biome covers about 16,000m² and is 50m high – you could fit the Tower of London inside it! The structure weighs 465 tonnes and contains 426 tonnes of air (dry air at standard temperature and pressure).

You can walk along  the canopy walkway, taking you high amongst the tree tops.

Eden mist

Beautiful orchids amongst the lush foliage.

Eden orchid

This reminded Mr Uphilldowndale and I of our visit to Borneo, many many moons ago, we were privileged to stay in a tribal longhouse;  I wonder, and worry if that part of the world still has it’s rainforest.

 

Eden long house

We ambled around in and amongst a party of lovely school children from Gordano school, who were having a ball.

eden school girls_

Their teachers told us The Eden Project has exceptional educational materials for the kids to use. We waited our turn to go up, right to the very top with them, Mr Uphilldowndale was not keen about the height,

Eden sky walk 2

But he was determined, he stayed in the centre of the platform, whilst I had a peek over the side, it was a long way down,

Eden sky walk 3

In this shot you can see the next batch of children patiently waiting to come up (not the place for overcrowding!)

Eden sky walk

The platform and the steps are suspended from the roof by wire ropes, so the steps sway a little, nothing  too dramatic, but enough to slow down even a teenager!

eden school boy

A magical place.

Eden flower

 


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Galloping towards Spring

Coltsfoot,  Tussilago farfara, I’d  recently been thinking how I’d not seen this sunny little spring flower for donkey’s years, I’d even thought about going to see if it still grows in the place I remember it as a child (funny how I can remember where that is, but not where I’ve put my phone) and then I stumble upon a magnificent clump a few hundred yards from the house.

Coltsfoot 2

Historically it was used to treat coughs and asthma (although  the toxins it’s now known to contain wouldn’t have done your liver any good) my book also says it was dried and smoked, so that’s not going to improve your cough is it?

Gypsy folklore has it that wherever it grows, coal will be found below. And I have to say, that for the sake of my neighbours house we have to hope its a coal seam (which is entirely possible) and not a coal mine.

Coltsfoot

I’d been reminiscing with some friends about coltsfoot rock, a sweet we used to buy as children, it became apparent from the conversation, that it is a bit of northern delicacy (its made in Lancashire)  

Three sticks of Coltsfoot Rock

My memory is that it tastes not unlike liquorice, and a few weeks later I stumbled upon some in an old fashioned sweetie shop, I was looking for Parma Violets at the time, but that’s another story. I can confirm, it still tastes like liquorice. I bought some for my friends, one was so taken by the memory of it, she took some sticks home, broke them into pieces, so that she could make it last longer, I doubt we did that as kids.

 

 


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There it was, gone.

There it was gone. Is that an expression local to North Derbyshire? Something that appears briefly and then disappears…

The blue skies and warm sun have gone and we are now expecting storm Freya to arrive on Sunday. Whilst it was very enjoyable, in a world of shifting weather patterns, it was also a little disconcerting for  a few days in February to be so mild, this time last year we had the Beast from the East

But  before the cloud came we had more visitors to the pussy willow,  a comma butterfly

Comma_

Who had a very neat vanishing trick up its sleeve. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Comma underside_

The Comma is a fascinating butterfly. The scalloped edges and cryptic colouring of the wings conceal hibernating adults amongst dead leaves, while the larvae, flecked with brown and white markings, bear close resemblance to bird droppings.

The species has a flexible life cycle, which allows it to capitalize on favourable weather conditions. However, the most remarkable feature of the Comma has been its severe decline in the twentieth century and subsequent comeback. It is now widespread in southern Britain and its range is expanding northwards.

I might be a bit slow on the uptake, but it wasn’t until recently I realised that some butterflies over winter, I assumed that they emerged from their chrysalis in the spring.

Wrong, this is how the comma butterfly spends its year6.comma

We’ve been busy bees, having a serious clear out of our barn,

Pussy willow bee

well its actually turned into a kind of archaeological dig, so much stuff! It was during this process, we found lots of hibernating butterfly tucked away behind old cupboards and pieces of timber, sadly I also found a lot of dismembered wings! I suppose a spider needs to eat.


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Away with the fairies

Onwards into south Wales, Joe is living and working in Cardiff , on his placement year, part of his university course. We brought a van load of ‘essentials’ and helped settle him into his new abode.  We took the opportunity to head on to our favourite spot on the Gower peninsular, Nicholaston camp site, as well as  the joys of underfloor heating in the shower block, it has easy access down on to the beach. The path takes you through ancient woodland, with many autumn delights

Fungi -1.jpg

Once through the woods, the path laces through the dunes,

Oxwich Bay.jpg

that have abundant flowers

Seaholly.jpg

so much for snails not liking sand and prickly things

snail and seaholly.jpg

I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t brought Spud the dog down to the beach with me, but the plan had been for a medative kind of meander, that was led by the eye, not the tennis ball; walking three Springer Spaniels must be a whole different ball game

Three Springers.jpg

There was much  beauty hiding in plain sight

plain sight.jpg

A reminder of the lunacy of British politics flashed up every now and then.

Brexit wrecks it_.jpg

The tide sorts the shells by size, the waters draining from Oxwich marsh,

sand and river.jpg

sweep them out to sea again.

Oxwich Bay_.jpg


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Best of Both Worlds

Here we are tipping into Autumn, and I’m not through with photos and adventure from May yet.

I’m going to wrap up our tour of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, with my favourite photos of my favourite moments. That I was there, and saw such beauty, and had such a privileged glimpse into another world is almost dream like.

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking.

Dolphin UHDD 4

A whale watching trip, with Whale Watch West Cork

If I’d seen little more than a few fins I think I’d have been happy,

Dolphin UHDD 5

But we got so much more than that, we got

Dolphin UHDD 3

these views and the knowledge and experience of Nic Solcum  

Dolphin UHDD 6

The pod of dolphins short-beaked common dolphins  turned and tumbled in the wave from the bow, after a little while* Nic cut the engines and let them swim off, about their business. There was a little German girl on the boat, aged about five, she stood at the bow, and waved them goodbye. I’m pretty sure she will always remember the experience, I know I will.

*No idea how long, it was one of those experiences where time takes on a pace of its own.