Uphilldowndale

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


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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.


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Spud and Ice

Not really the further adventures of Spud the dog, but we thought you might be pining for him, so here he is surveying the state of play of any remaining snow.

a little snow -1

A little left under the walls. But the temperature remains chilly.

Mr Uphilldowndale tipped me off that there were some very blog worthy icicles over the hill.  In fact he insisted we go take a look this morning before breakfast.

Clough -1

Tucked away in a deep clough, that sees not much in the way of sunshine at any time of the year. The icicles have formed from water that oozed from between the rock and roots,

Icicle 3-1

dripping on to vegetation they seem to defy gravity at times; the Circ Du Soleil of the icicle world

Clough 5-1

as the growing weight of ice shifts the centre of gravity.

Clough 7-1

And the icicles head off in a different direction.

Clough 2-1

Splashes of water on moss, freeze before they have chance to soak away.

Icicle 13-1

I feel this one has a touch of the Dale Chihuly about it.

dale -1