Uphilldowndale

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


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Time and tide

More from our travels in New Zealand,  November 2019

Had we not spent so long, wining and dining at Fleurs Place, we’d have arrived to see more the famous Moeraki boulders, before the tide came in!

Moeraki Boulders 3

Tide and a bit of rain wasn’t going to deter us though.

A Moeraki boulder wired aren’t they? Even more other worldly when emerging from the ground.

Moeraki Boulders 2

The broken ones reminded me of the contents of an ancient, open packet of Maltesers,   the kind of thing you might find in the back of the glove box in the car.*

NZ Moeraki boulders inside 2

But here is the scientific explanation

concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil.[1] Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. The word ‘concretion’ is derived from the Latin con meaning ‘together’ and crescere meaning ‘to grow’. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the host stratum.

NZ Moeraki boulders inside

The Maori oral tradition explanation, I understand this one more readily.

Local Māori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe. This legend tells of the rocky shoals that extend seaward from Shag Point as being the petrified hull of this wreck and a nearby rocky promontory as being the body of the canoe’s captain. Their reticulated patterning on the boulders, according to this legend, are the remains of the canoe’s fishing nets.[5] 

We came across a party of Chinese tourists,no wedding dresses this time though, (the weather was hardly Instagram friendly).

NZ Moeraki boulders chinese tourists

We debated why they felt the need to wear face masks, we wondered if it a cultural thing, but whatever we were wondering in November 2019  it seems rather irrelevant now.

Moeraki Boulders 5

I guess there are no flights of Chinese tourist arriving in New Zealand,  it will be a hard hit for the tourist economy of South Island. But needs most certainly must.  The overshoes, and the rain coat, with a kind of visor hood, was something we’d not encountered before.

One of the party took a shine to Tom,  and wanted a souvenir holiday photo, he willingly obliged

Moeraki Boulders_

We were soon alone on the beach, and Tom couldn’t resist.  I think the tide had turned.

Moeraki Boulders 4

*what chance is there of ever finding forgotten chocolate treats in our car?


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Applied Art

I came across a beautiful gatepost today, crafted not just to carry the weight of a gate, but something rather handsome too. It was hewn from the lovely soft blush pink gritstone that can be seen in many of the very old houses around here, the quarries it came from, long since worked out and disused. It’s a precious stone to those of us who live within its walls.

It was facing its partner, however I don’t think they spent their lifetimes together, but they had common ground. Both posher that your average gatepost.


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Loop Head

Loop Head West Clare, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.  So many beautiful orchids

sm file orchid_

Purple Orchid Ireland 2

Whats not to love?

Heart Ireland_

We were not so keen on the dizzying height of the cliffs, but photographed from a safe distance, you had to admire the geology, its things like this, the folds in this rock, a bedding plane pushed to almost 90 degrees,  that make me feel very small, just a spec in the universe, just passing by, at the whim of forces of untold strength.

rock folds

There was lots of wildlife too

Moth Ireland_

Loop Head, is at the mouth of the  river Shannon.

It’s a popular place to catch sight of dolphins,  the water was heaving with seabirds, and there was a pungent smell of fish,  and those people willing to sit at the edge of the cliff were getting very excited,  we crept a little closer, all the black flecks in this photo are birds either on the water or diving, there was obviousley a large shoal of fish passing through.

loop head.jpg

and the distinctive black shape are of course dolphins. Not very dramatic dolphin photographs, unlike these beauties , I’m leased to say we had  a better chance to see the magical world of dolphins, they’ll get a post all of their own…


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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,

Castle of Mey-1

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.

Castle of Mey Gardens 5-1 

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,

Castle of Mey Gardens 1-1

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

Castle of Mey Gardens 2-1

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.

Castle of Mey Gardens 4-1

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.

Castle of Mey Gardens 6-1

The veg patch was on a grand scale.

Castle of Mey Gardens 7-1

And the ‘scarecrows’ had a vernacular style!

Castle of Mey Gardens 3-1


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Momento Mori

Momento Mori Kirkwall pointing hand 2

 

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_21

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts that started in June and are still limping along! I’ll get there in the end…  something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

A visit to St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall,  sadly if was only a brief visit, we managed to slip in  for a quick look around, just as a children’s concert was closing  (there was much fiddle playing, but more of that in a moment) and preparations  for a wedding were beginning , mind you I’d rather see a building that is very much part of the community than one preserved for tourist like me.

There are some wonderful tomb stones, its true to say I find them fascinating,  on many levels, and Orkney has many that are note worthy (there’s probably another post to be had, Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you I spent a lot of time mooching around grave yards on our trip). These  stones I loved because they, leave the viewer in no doubt, we are all just passing through, momento mori, ‘remember you must die’  an hour glass, a spade, a coffin, a skeleton,  cross bones and skull have you got the message? No use spelling it out, if the viewer can’t read, and not many would have been able to circa 1600, so lets be visually bold.

Momento Mori Kirkwall 4

Here, there is something about the hand, with the pointing finger, that made me smile, there is a touch of the Monty Python  about it, what looks like a sleeve, is actually a clasp holding the stone vertical.

Momento Mori Kirkwall pointing hand_

The font was rather wonderful, made with beautiful  marble, or are they pieces of agate? I know they make jewellery with Scottish agates; it reminded me  of another font made of precious stone

Font St Magnus Kirkwall

The external fabric of the cathedral itself has taken a hammering from the elements,

Stone exterior St Magnus_

Momento mori, even if you are a lump of stone

Stone exterior St Magnus 2

After we returned home, I read of a  battered fiddle, bought at a car boot fair, for £20,

It turned out that the fiddle had been made in 1919 by Thomas Sutherland from Flotta, and that the wood had come from HMS Vanguard.

More than 800 people died when the battleship sank in Scapa Flow in July 1917 after a series of internal explosions.

Do have a listen to the restored fiddle, being played in St Magnus cathedral, it will give you goose bumps.


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Getting the message across…

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_20

Thirty Days Wild,  thirty posts throughout June (and July, and August, I’m so,so tardy) something that is grounded in our wild world. This year posts are from our travels around the  north coast of Scotland  on the North Coast 500 route and a visit to Orkney. Stand by, for lots of sky, sea, wildlife, history, Spud the dog and random musings.

Well, obviously

slipway sign_

Health and safety was a recurring theme.

Sign golf four

As a rule of thumb, the more signs a campsite had, the less likely we were to rate it highly,

slipway bagpipe

people can get rather officious when let loose with a laminator and sometimes there are so many signs you just stop seeing them.

However some signs just capture the spirit of a place

Here and There

And because I’m usually the very last person to be  able see a typo, I was kind of proud, in a sad sort of way to spot this one!

Drinking water

We came across a lot of excellent, information boards (or are they called interpretation panels?)  on our journey, usually at laybys and points of interest.  Mind you, there some more unusual and innovative  ways of sharing information.  I particularly liked this,

Rock sign

It explains the geology of North West Highland Geopark

Rock sign detail_


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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


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Land of Snow and Ice

A selvedge of snow still remains, banked up against the drystone walls, it lies in dips and gullies (or ‘gips’ as I used to call them as a child, no point wasting words when you can blend).

April snow -1

There are lanes  that are still full to the brim, some with cars still entombed! Our lane was cleared  of snow this afternoon, by man in a JCB digger.

Tom has returned home from a geography study trip to Iceland*, it has been warmer there all the time he’s been away than it has here. How silly is that.  On his return he said how ‘green’ everything looks at home, but this is only in comparison to Iceland, not ‘as it should be’, at this time of year, in this part of of the world. It is dire for livestock.

Here are Joe and Spud on our walk on Sunday

Spud Joe and Trees-1

Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to show me some mine workings that have ‘opened up’ recently: as a child I used to play no more than a stones throw from here.

mine shaft -1

My Mum has said for over fifty years that she is convinced the loud crash she and a friend heard one summers evening could only have been to do with the old  mine workings, of which there are many around and about, both coal and lead.  It’s not really what you want at the bottom of the garden.

Making them safe is the remit of The Coal Authority.

mine shaft 2-1

* I’ve been envious of Tom, I went to Iceland in the early 1980’s with my friend Bob’s-mum; it seemed a bit off beat for a holiday destination back then. I loved it, however unlike Tom, I didn’t get to swim in The Blue Lagoon, or see the Aurora Borealis… sigh.


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The Village

The Village starts tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.

Image for The Village

I’m sure you will enjoy the scenery, it is going to look more than a little familiar to regular readers of this blog. Enjoy.

The drama sets out in 1914, here is the Uphilldowndale homestead in around 19006-1910

Home sweet home-2

I’d planned a longer post with a few links to ‘The Village’ landscape, but  that will have to wait. I’ve not been so well for the last few days, all those antibiotics came at a price, Joe tried to cheer me up, ‘At least it is better than the tooth ache Mum’. I certainly hope the reaction doesn’t last as long as the tooth ache.


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, March 3rd 2013

Spud the dog, retrieved a toy Landrover  from the rock pile* today . Goodness know how long it must have been there,  it must be years,  it’s a long time now since the boys played with such things.  It must have been pre Spud, which is just as well, seeing Spuds enthusiasm for  trying to chew the tyres off  it this morning.

Chewy Landy...-1

‘Back in the day’ there would have been endless opportunity for Spud to have devoured all sorts of toys. I can’t but wonder what made him dig it out today, for he must have passed it a thousand times before.

Chewy Landy... 2-1

Just as the boys specification for toys has changed, its all mountain bikes and computer games these days, so has the families idea of a suitable car. Our trusty family estate car, age 17, and with generous 290,000 miles on the clock will be off to pastures new any day soon.

I know, this post is a day late, I’m afraid  toothache got the better of me last night.

* All the stone, we’ve ever dug up,  or pulled down, since we moved here over twenty years ago. We have aspirations to make it into something more than a cairn, one day, one day.