Uphilldowndale

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


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Have you seen my week?

I put it down somewhere and now I can’t find it… It’s a shame because I was going to put a lot into it, and now I’ve got stuff left on my desk and long lists not ticked off in my note book.  Sigh.

What can I tell you, it snowed and then it rained and rained some more; snow is more photogenic than rain.  Let me illustrate, our friendly pheasant in the snow, looking handsome.

snow bird

Our friendly pheasant in the rain, pleading with Mr Uphilldowndale to let him in, via the bathroom window, not such a good look.

rain bird


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Top Coats

I can’t keep up, I haven’t posted last weekends snowy photo’s and today we are taking our ‘top coats’* off, because it is + 12c

Never mind, I shall force last weeks snowyness upon you.  because it was pretty, and a very welcome change from rain and grey skies.

Does that not look like a happy sheep? Must be its warm woollen coat, you can see its insulating properties.

 sheep header_

I like the patterns in the fields, where the snow has fallen in the tractor tyre tracks, it reminds me of the tracks on an LP, which dates me.

two horses_

*Top coat, not sure if this an old Derbyshire expression, but it is how my father referred to winter weight coats.  He was fond of saying ‘Buxton is always a top coat colder than everywhere else.’ And it is true.


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Spud on Sunday 17/01/16

Spud the dog  is looking rather wistful, he’d really like to be playing in the snow.

poor spud

He’s had an operation to remove a lump from his shoulder. Now he’s recovered from the anaesthetic  he’s back in full springer spaniel mode, which takes no account of his wounds need to heal.

Here he is when he first came home from the vets,  a little dazed and confused . 

Poor Spud_


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Slow to germinate, part one

It would be churlish of me to complain about the weather, its been wet grey and dismal, but we’ve had nothing like the troubles of great swathes of the UK.  I’ve not been out with the camera, I’ve been very happy to fall into a state of semi hibernation. It’s the time of year where curling up with a seed catalogue in front of a warm fire seems like an ideal  way to pass  the time.

So it perhaps seems fitting to dig up a post that has been lying  in  a dormant state in my  blog drafts since June 2014. Yes 2014

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in the  hearts and history of Mr Uphilldowndale’s family.

It was as a result of this connection we had the privilege of visiting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank  at Wakehurst in Sussex ;  in a nut shell, the aim of the seed bank is to provide an insurance policy against extinction of plants in the wild.

seed bank ext

When HRH Prince Charles opened the Millennium Seed bank he described it as a ‘a gold reserve … a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored’.

It’s a special place.

breathing planet_

We  had a full behind the scenes tour.  Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,

so many seeds

others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.

MSB4

Just sometimes, the seeds arrive  from the four corners of the world with excess baggage, the staff need to keep their wits about them, and a sense of humour.

big spid

Identified and catalogued

seed vault 4

this most precious of treasure is prepared

seed jars

to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C

seed vault 2

You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;

seed vault 3

We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass

seed vault

It’s one thing keeping all these seeds, and knowing where you’ve put them, I’d be rubbish at that! But you also need to know, what you’ve got will germinate.  I was very taken with the x-ray images of seeds, that can tell the trained eye, a lot about the viability of the seed samples; I thought they were rather beautiful.

xray seeds_

Part two to follow.

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