Uphilldowndale

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


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Giddy Pup

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

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I confess I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of photos I’ve taken, its an understatement to say that this part of the world is photogenic! So I’ll get in the groove with Spud the dog, being a little giddy on a breeze beach  (flapometer 9.7).

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It was here, a few miles north of Applecross we found the biggest starfish I’ve ever seen, I asked Mr UHDD to pose his foot next to it for scale (I’d like to tell you this shot is slightly out of focus to protect you from an uncensored view of a fellrunners foot, which is never a pretty sight, but actually it sloppy work on a windy beach).

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It was at this moment we realised its tentacles were still moving. Now I’ve had enough drama with Mr UHDD and stinging things to suggest he move his foot fast, he didn’t need any encouragement…

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We think it is a Luidia Cilliaris,

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The Road North

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world.

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I’m up for this, I’ve done it before, I’ve a bit of a cop out on the delivery though this year.  Mr Uphilldowndale and I are on the road, with Spud the dog of course. We’re taking a three week tour in the campervan, a week visiting  the Orkney Islands, and driving the North Coast 500 route around the northern coast of Scotland. Daily delivery of posts may not be possible,  there are so many variables, when I find an Internet connection, expect a flurry of posts. Posts will not be exclusively ‘wild’  as there is so much to share, but nature will be here in all its glory.

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Post box, Isle of Sanday

First of all how did we get here? It’s a long drive from Derbyshire (over 500m),  we waved as we tootled along past Tootlepedal’s patch, and broke our journey by calling to see the magnificent  Kelpie sculptures at Falkirk, I’d wanted to see them ever since I saw the video of their construction. I was not disappointed.

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How skilful to get such shape and tone to the muscle structure out of sheets of metal.

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Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to know the nuts and bolts of their construction

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The Kelpies were having a little grooming

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We then went on to call, unannounced, on M and J in Kincardine,  M used to work with me in my ‘wee flower shop’, in Alloa, some 26 years ago, we had not seen them since then. We had a lovely evening with them, and camped out on their drive for the night, their kindness and generosity was just as I remembered. A wonderful start to our adventure

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As we travelled north we were struck by the gorse, it was prolific

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and its vivid colour and perfume,  sweet with notes of coconut, swept along with us.

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The Big Build

There is a whole lot of nest building going on.  I’m not sure how this thrush managed to find its way back to the nest site…

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But it did.

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We’re a little concerned as it seems a very exposed site, in an oak tree near the pond.

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It’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the cats to be up there. We’ve already had  the bodies two young rabbits, two robins and three mice on the door mat, in the last couple of weeks. I suppose when the leaves open it will be better hidden. Fingers crossed. 


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Early Doors

We were down in London last weekend. We took some time out to visit Kew  Botanical Gardens, it was three days after my annual pass expired. Sigh.

As we renewed the pass one of the staff commented ‘You’ll need that, you’ll be wanting to come to the orchid festival’

Yes, I thought, that’s why we’re here today. 

It starts tomorrow’ she continued. I was crest fallen, I’d really been looking forward to seeing it, I’ve often managed to ‘just miss’ finding out about  exhibitions, I’d never managed to arrive before one started before! I really should pay more attention…

And whilst the staff were in the throws of the final ‘set dressing’ of the displays, we could still access the glass houses, so all was not lost.

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a floating wheelbarrow, how cool is that. Some of the displays certainly took me back to my days worked as a florist (this one reminded me of a funeral tribute we made for a traveller family, it was so big that after we’d finished it we realised we couldn’t get it up the stairs from the basement workroom!)

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The scent of this stephanotis, was a flash back to the 1970’s and many hours spent  as a junior  florist wiring the individual florets to be used in bridal bouquets

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And there were delicately strung dried helichrysum blooms, waiting to be artistically draped, what a labour of love.

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But enough of them, we’re here for the orchids

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we were not disappointed,

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they were everywhere even strung from the roof.

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Another floristry flash back, cymbidium orchids, the ‘go to’ flower for the mother of the bride in the 1980’s, not one bloom but two, as my colleague used to say, ‘that’s not a corsage its a ‘bustenklamper’.

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I think this slipper orchid was my favourite

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Or was it this one? I like growing orchids, it always seems like I’ve achieved something clever when they flower, although it’s not magic on my part,

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I do tend to guild the lily a little sometimes. But the greatest orchid thrill was the wild orchid that randomly, just popped up in the lawn a few years ago,  sadly it’s never made another appearance.

We may have missed out a little on the final flourishes of the festival, but that really didn’t matter.

* Early doors


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Sharp

A sharp frost and a foggy morning, and more than a little black ice.  I must be getting to be a grown up, because I chose to travel the road more travelled, not less, where I could be more confident of some salt on the road. I managed to find some pretty things though.

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These burrs look much more attractive on the plant, than they would entangled in Spud the dogs fur.

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The seed heads of the cow parsley looks poised for the insertion of ice diamonds

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