Uphilldowndale

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


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Sad and Shocked

We are sad and shocked, that our lovely cat Dodger has died suddenly, he was only five.

Hunter, fisherman, all round mischief, strong enough to drag a fat pheasant up the field, it doesn’t seem possible.

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At 8pm he was in fine spirits, lying on his back, in one of his favourite places, on the hot spot of the kitchen floor, where the underfloor heating pipes converge, legs  akimbo, batting the odd swipe at Spuds ears as he walked past. A happy, healthy and content cat.

cat nap

When we saw him again just after 9pm, he was very distressed and ill indeed. We rushed him through the snow and ice to the vets. Where poisoning and trauma were ruled out, it wasn’t a fever or infection either. He was given pain relief and we decided to bring him home, with a plan to take him back in the morning for blood tests and a scan.

Spud and Dodger 2

But it was not to be, he died during the night. Given the sudden onset, the most likely cause was a blood clot.

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Gone fishing

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Bird watchers

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Seasonal Selection

Striding out in the light and fresh air, can be a challenge on short winter days.  I’m lucky that I can flex my work a little, so as to grab the best of the day, for a cobweb blowing yomp up the hill.  My was it chilly today, the wind was biting.

A seasonal selection of photos.

Banks of cloud sit on the hills

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I find it interesting how some fields at the same altitude seem ‘hold the snow’ more than others, I imagine it is  to do with how they have been grazed

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So nice of the drystone walls to underscore the beautiful view

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Feasting sheep,

Hungry sheep

and no place like home at dusk on a snowy winters day

Home -


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Two for the price of one, part two

After a night at Welbeck, we travelled on to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

It’s not the first time I’ve blogged about this wonderful place.  This was a favourite exhibition

Here was an exhibition that was going to appeal to both of us,  Tony Crag, A Rare Category of Objects

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Mr Uphilldowndale, likes nice pieces of wood, especially when they are constructed like this

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It’s not all natural materials though,

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Sensuous curving dice

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and pinnacles of steel

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They have a feel of sandstone weathered through the ages, this made me think of the cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney.

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There were also working drawings and maquettes, that illustrated how Cragg’s time spent working in laboratories, provided inspiration, here you can see glass flasks and test tubes, layer upon layer. 

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It was his biggest exhibition to date in the UK, and there were many sculptures in the park. This storm laden sky had me worried about the sculptures ability to conduct lightening! 

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The Life and Death of a Flower

A potpourri of posts, about our adventures and experiences of the last few months whilst I’ve  been a lax blogger. 

November. A visit to London, to see family and a visit to Kew Botanical Gardens, always plenty to see and wonder at

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What ever time of year we visit

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however I wanted to make a beeline* to Rebecca Louise Law’s exhibition, Life in Death, its an installation, in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, right next to the fabulous paintings by Marianne North

It is created from thousand upon thousands of dried flowers, suspended on copper wire

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We think of dried flowers as delicate and ephemeral, and the effect is all of that, but it is something more besides, there is something enduring too.  I particularly loved the shadows of the flowers

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It is immersive, a path winds through the garlands, people come  in and out of view, now you see them now you don’t.  I think I can see where the existential title comes from.

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Given that flowers were, a long time ago, my world of work, I’ve been long aware of the importance many cultures place on flowers, in both life and death, so it was no surprise to read,  where Law’s inspiration came from.

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The exhibition Life in Death showcases her personal collection of plants and flowers, dried and preserved over a six year period. It is her most intricate large-scale artwork to date and examines our relationship with flowers and plants and how they are used, particularly through rituals.

Kew’s Herbarium specimens, including Egyptian garlands made with dried flowers dating back to 700BC, which inspired Rebecca to make this work, are also on display.

The Egyptian garlands made me think of Hawaiian lei (rubbish photo, sorry).

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We then went on to wander in the Autumn sun,

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I picked up a selection of fallen leaves, I had a little art project of my own in mind.

 

Now, if there is one thing that illustrates the the opposing, but complimentary mind-sets of Mr Uphilldowndale and I, it is that I picked up leaves because they were beautiful, he insisted we photograph them with the name of the tree from whence they came. Creative meets Engineer…

Red Oak -1

However, it was all to no avail,  as the plan went a little pear shaped, when we left the bag of leaves in the cafe at Kew Gardens;  I hope we didn’t cause a security incident… Sorry.

* Oh no I haven’t written about The Hive yet, I took those photos back in January…


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Extended hospitality…

I mentioned we’d had a lot of visitors to the garden, especially at the birdfeeder;  well look who turned up today!

On the roof of my workshop, a buzzard.

To think it was 2009 when I first saw (and wrote about, on this blog) a buzzard in this part of Derbyshire.

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It is as tough as ever being top  of the food chain, the rooks were not pleased by our guest. There was a spat.

 

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Having dismissed the rooks, the buzzard landed on the wall, and was joined by a second buzzard*.

Other guests included the beautiful thrush

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and a timid robin.

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* I think the time is approaching to upgrade from my  world weary Canon ESO400D camera, any suggestions?


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Home Sweet Home

Dark nights and cold weather may have arrived, but I’m still traveling through the  Orkney  islands and on the North coast 500 route of Scotland, it’s May and June 2017.

This was once the private home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, the  Castle of Mey. It is now open to the public.

We arrived early, before the gates were open,

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the drive looks like you are arriving at a fairy tale castle, I’m sure in a certain light these trees could look a little menacing, but paved with daisies, they look enchanting.  I whiled away the time chatting to a robin, who posed in the hawthorn blossom

Castle of Mey Robin-1

The Queen Mother fell in love with this place, when she was mourning the death of her husband, it was derelict.  But not now, its rather beautiful,  you could just imagine the Queen Mum, floating around the gardens of a summer morning with the corgis in tow.

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The house is open to the public, but you can’t take photos,  for copyright and security reasons we were told, which I can understand: undoubtedly there is a good dollop of ‘set dressing’ for the benefit of the public, but it is non the less an interesting view of her home.

We dodged the showers,  to tour the gardens, which are gorgeous,

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Look, light and flowers, they seem like a distant memory already.

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I have to show you the rhubarb, magnificent, but then everywhere in the far north of Scotland, from derelict crofts to royal residences seems to, the most handsome rhubarb.

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A feature of many fields in the area, are slabs of stone used as walls, I do like a nice stone wall, these are stood to attention, as one might expect, those of the field were rather less regular.

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The veg patch was on a grand scale.

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And the ‘scarecrows’ had a vernacular style!

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