Uphilldowndale

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


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Eleven years on

Apparently today is my blogs 11th birthday.

Trees have been a constant blog companion over the years, so my blog buddies, what is this? We saw it at Burghley we thought it might be an ash, from the leaf shape

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and the  purple-black buds, what do you think?

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But Ash can be complicated, one of those things I only found out whilst writing a blog post. That’s the kind on thing that captures my curiosity and has kept me blogging along for eleven years, what makes blogging a feast and social media a snack.

The flowers appear on the tree before the new leaves in spring. They are small and dark purple in colour, occurring in dense clusters, with the female flowers being slightly longer than the males. Unusually, ash can be either monoecious (meaning that both sexes occur on an individual tree) or dioecious, where any one tree has either all male or all female flowers. Some trees also alternate their flowering, bearing only male flowers in one year and females the next.

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It was in the sculpture garden, we had a nice time there, and it did get a little silly from time to time, its what happens when you get a group of mates together who have know each others since they were in the Scouts together, they still think they are sixteen, not sixty; brilliant.

I liked the cattle sculpture

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And the detail of some more abstract works.

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Then there was the floating swans, that drifted around on the breeze. I’m sure the central hub of this installation was supposed to be more low key than it appeared. A pair of coots, had made it their home, they were very house proud.

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we were impressed by the male who was bringing his best sticks to be added to the nest, expertly ducking between the rotating swans,

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it must be a risky job on a windy day, like crossing the M25 at rush hour!

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Barking up the wrong tree

There has been an explosion of leaf growth. Spring seemed so long in coming this year, well the handbrake is now off. The trees have a fine new suit to wear and they look splendid.

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You might remember me waxing lyrically about the roe deer that had been in the field? And how I came up close to it in the village? Well it has lost its Bambi status.  look what it did to my silver birch sapling, a silver wedding present…

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If we were regularly visited by rabbits and deer, I suppose we’d use tree guards, but I’m on a bit of a rant about these plastic wrappers at the moment. I saw so many when we were down at Rutland Water, on the nature reserve for heavens sake, that had become embedded within the trees. Tree guard 4.jpg

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here is the archaeology of the future.

At least there are alternatives

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The sooner we crack on with using them the better.

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A brief moment in time

I walk down to the dentist this morning, not something you’d  normally leap out of bed for.

I took the old railway incline down into the village, it was part of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, that brought limestone down from the quarries to the waiting narrow boats in the canal basin. It’s now used as a path, and has been planted with trees (less controversial that current trees V railway issues)

I caught the cherry trees, at just the right moment,

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If the wind had picked up, or if it had rained, it just wouldn’t have looked the same, clusters of blossom were hiding in plain sight

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So glad I decided to walk, rather than drive; on the way back it got even better

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I think this might be the same beautiful animal I saw in the field a few days ago, I think it is a roe deer, not something we’ve seen here before, red deer occasionally from off the moors, but not roe. I felt a little sorry for it, it looked like it might be happier in a herd (but its OK,  it seems they are solitary animals).

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Too think, I nearly didn’t take the camera with me.

 


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Always in the kitchen at parties?

More from our visit to Burghley House

It seems kitchens have always held an attraction, warmth, food, drink, what’s not to like.

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You’ve noticed the skulls? Turtles.

Now every piece of meat that passed through this kitchen would have been ‘headed up’ by a skull at some point, but obviously turtles were note worthy. In the 17th century turtle soup was  a very prestigious  dish to set before your guests. So much so, you’d have had a special dish from which to serve it.

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Turtles were shipped live to the UK, in specially built tanks and barrels onboard ship. I thought that must have been a bit grim. But  then a lot of things were at that time. 

It’s amazing that a new cook didn’t come along and say ‘for goodness sake, get those  ugly dusty old things out of my kitchen!’

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We don’t know how this chap arrived.

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We stayed in a holiday let on the estate, The Dairy, we were quite a crowd,  the Dairy can accommodate up to twenty guests; we were celebrating a special birthday.

Now think what an old dairy looks like, even if it is one on the estate of a stately home.  Now think again.

The Dairy

No one minded being in this kitchen, well actually there were two kitchens…  an heir and a spare of kitchens!

Sumptuous, and Spud the dog was a model guest, he took one look at the sofas and realised he hadn’t a cat in hells chance of being allowed on one, so he sprawled on the under heated floors instead and was content.

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The Cross country course for the Burley Horse trials runs straight past the garden, you can hire The Dairy then if you like, and you can afford.  

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After three nights of excellent company food and wine, none of us were quite ready to go home to our own kitchens.

 

 


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Tulip Mania

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Tulips under a skylight, at Burghley House

After swooning over barn owls, we moved on to Burghley House,  the plain walls and unadorned surfaces in the image above, were not the norm, opulence is the house style.

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A few fresh flowers make a house a home,  but I would say that.

The tulips seemed especially suitable, I’m sure a passion for tulips must have passed through this house before, a costly game. 

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That could cost you your home however stately.


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Sometimes a little magic flies by

We’ve been away, we’ve been to Rutland Water for a couple of nights in the campervan.  we had a lovely time, I hired an electric bike, such fun! I went wheeeeeee!

I’ve not ridden a bike for many many moons.

After that we went on to the nature reserve, and watched nature in all its Spring busyness.feed me_

From a hide we watched the osprey, they were a little too far way for my camera, but we were much closer to them than we had been before, in addition there was a large TV screen showing live footage taken by cameras looking directly into the nest.

Now that sound like an excellent day, doesn’t it? We settled down for the evening, with a glass of wine and some tasty Long Clawson stilton cheese.

And  then the magic arrived

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A barn owl flew in across the meadow, next to the camping field, quartering, searching for prey,  it swooped past us time after time

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It’s the first time I’ve seen a barn owl in the wild, I’ve had other owl encounters.

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It went on and on, taking prey off to its nest

Barn Owl Rutland

and returning, to our delight.

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The next morning, Mr Uphilldowndale went out on his bike at about 7:15 am, for a proper bike ride, one with pace and miles and without me going wheeeeeee all the time.

After he had gone I contemplated making a second cup of tea, I sat up in bed and peeped around the curtain and there it was again.

Right in my face, this time carrying its breakfast.  I’m such a lucky girl.  Barn Owl Rutland 7

All the photos were taken through the tinted privacy glass of the van, the last image with added condensation…


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Generous Hospitality

Continuing our visit to Flanders Fields

The people of  the beautiful town of Ypres, were warm and welcoming.

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The town was completely restored after the Great War, it had to be.

Photo, City of Vancouver Archives

At the centre of the market square is the Cloth Hall,  the clock tower was having a bit of maintenance.

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I thought it a very slender scaffold tower, glad to see it was well tied in to the building. It’s a long way down for a comfort break!

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I’m more used seeing building sites like this secured, I’m sure if you tried this at home, some likely lad, would think it a blast to scamper up after a few pints!  The footings looked quite relaxed too…

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I’ve hardly any photos of the town, my planned day of  mooching around the streets, camera in hand was scuppered by a dramatic drop in temperature that left us scampering between coffee shops and museums  dodging the icy winds, others have done better than me

Such a shame the day before had been a beautiful spring day, Spud the dog who came along for his first overseas trip had been lapping up the sun and watching the world go by from his favourite spot in the van

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Spud had to have a visit to the vets whilst in Ypres, to have a worming tablet, a statutory requirement if he was to allowed back into the UK and to be marked on his pet passport. We found the vets online before we left home,  the appointment was made by email and it was all very straight forward, and for Spud who has seen more than his fair share of vets over the last few months,  he thought it rather swish and he was more than happy to escape with just a tasty tablet. 

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We were a bit perplexed the evening before, when we looked down the street where we thought the vets was located, it was all very traditional and looked residential rather than commercial, but in the daylight when the shutters were up we discovered that to accommodate the need for more modern space in such a carefully protected townscape, the façade of buildings are preserved, meanwhile  the walls within are a totally reworked space across several buildings, here at the vets, a carpark is on the lower floor with a sweeping ramp up to the glass walled offices and consulting rooms on the first floor.

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I wondered what it was like to live in a town with the legacy of remembrance tourism, tricky sometimes maybe?

But the hospitality we received was generous to say the least, here is a chicken pie, that we ordered ‘to share’  between two of us.

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It goes without saying that Belgium beer is good, and the  chocolate is divine, the scent of which wafts along the main square,

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judging by the state of this  last photo, I  obviously took it after the beer,