Uphilldowndale

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


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Spring Day

It has been a glorious Spring day, we’d not be hasty enough to say the worst of the weather is over, oh no, snow as late as April is entirely possible.

But we enjoyed the beauty of the moment,  listening to croaking frogs in the pond, watching  bees feasting in pussy willow.

Happy Bee

Sad news recently reached us, that Tim Green of Village Farm, East Portlemouth South Devon (a village with a special place in the hearts of clan Uphilldowndale) has tragically died in an accident on the farm; we send our condolences to Rebecca, Tim’s family, all at Village Farm and the community of East Portlemouth; sad and difficult times. There is a beautiful tribute to Tim on the Village Farm website. I’m sure his memory and passion will live on at Village Farm.

I suspect few of us give a second thought when we sit down to our meals of the risks faced on a daily basis by the farming community. Working with machinery and livestock will always present dangers, sadly this February has been particularly harrowing


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Where the wind blows

We are still awaiting the return of of our telephone connection, storm Doris seems such a long time ago now.  We’ve all been juggling with our mobile data quota, I have a long to-do list on my desk.  Mr Uphilldowndale has spent a lot of time listening to the  ‘music’ whilst awaiting a conversation with Plusnet. Their service isn’t what it once was.

We left it all behind and went to south Wales to see Joe, and spent a couple of nights on the Gower, we’ve been there before.

Looks like they get proper windy weather, all the time.

Where the wind blows_

We had a lovely walk along the coast path to Rhossili 

Coast path Rhossili

and enjoyed a welcome beer over looking the bay. I thought it might be a bit cool sat outside with Spud the dog, but the wind dropped and the sun broke through warming our backs. It was delightful.

beer_


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Buzzards and Bramblings

How lucky am I to be able to sit and watch birds great and small from my window. I think these are bramblings, a bird I can’t recall visiting us before, there are greenfinches and goldfinches too.

Finch feeding_

We’ve moved the feeder, closer to a hawthorn, and it seems that with feeding wild birds, as in retail, the three most important things are position, position and position, there have been upwards of 40 birds visiting  at any one time, the hawthorn shimmers with them. But hard to try and capture in an image, especially when it is snowing, as illustrated here..

many birds in a bush

This afternoon a buzzard was soaring over the field against a blue sky, always a treat, it used to be rare to see to them here: and last week we had several sightings of a raven, much bigger than a rook and being mobbed by them, it was his distinctive call and a check with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust members on social media that confirmed our suspicions.

Saturday’s weather lifted everyone’s spirits  after a week of snow ice and rain: even if the  mood of the day was tempered by the news that after eight days without a telephone connection,  thank you Doris, we now face at least a week, probably more, before can expect to be reconnected, as the repair involves new cabling,  requiring traffic management, cherry pickers and cable drums.


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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.

Kew orchid 9

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!)

Kew 13

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

Kew orchid 8

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

Kew 16

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

Kew orchid 6

we were not disappointed,

Kew 15

they were everywhere even strung from the roof.

Kew orchid 4

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’.

Kew 14

I think this slipper orchid was my favourite

Kew 10

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,

Kew orchid 7

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.

Frosty Taddington_

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

Frosty Taddington 2

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

Frosty Taddington 3


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Tight Fit

A second belated post from our weekend, back in November in the Yorkshire Dales . We went to

Hawes 2

There was still snow about.  Yorkshire drystone walls have different coping stones than Derbyshire walls

Hawes

You don’t often see paved foot paths around here either, we were glad of them though, it was very wet and muddy.

Yorkshire stiles 3

The stile however posed a bit of a problem for Spud, they are obviously built for Yorkshire terriers, or maybe Whippets, but not Springer spaniels

Yorkshire stiles_

Poor Spud, he needed a lift.

Yorkshire stiles 2

the local  working dogs have got it sussed though. Gates open for them.

Hitching a ride