Uphilldowndale

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


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Ghost Soldiers and Bird Song

I went to our  local park today, to the war memorial where there was a service to commemorate the  anniversary of the first day of the battle of the Somme.

I have to say the blowing of a whistle at the start of the service, chilled my blood. What a thought, that 19,420  lives were lost that day.

On 1st July 1916 at 07.30am, whistles blew all along the British front line driving thousands of troops out of the trenches into No Man’s Land as the Battle of the Somme began.

The park was built as a memorial to those who lost  their lives during World War I, and during the two minutes silence I was struck by the sweet scent of roses drifting up from the flower beds and the bird song from the surrounding, and now mighty trees. I could pick out the cheeky chatter of long tailed tits

Long-tailed tit, windy day

Birdsong must have been the last thing the soldiers heard before the guns

From Bivouacs by Gilbert Waterhouse

In Somecourt Wood, in Somecourt Wood,
We bivouacked and slept the night,
The nightingales sang the same
As they had sung before we came.
‘Mid leaf and branch and song and light
And falling dew and watching star.
And all the million things which are
About us and above us took
No more regard of us than
We take in some small midge’s span
Of life, albeit our gunfire shook
The very air in Somecourt Wood.

It was very moving, and I don’t think had I seen these  ‘ghost soldiers’ today, moving speechlessly through our cities, each one  simply carrying a card with the name and age of a soldier they represented. I could have helped but shed a tear. What a powerful piece of art.

'Ghost Tommies' at Waterloo Station in London


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A throning, or a party by any other name

I’ve a string of posts to deliver,  I’m behind schedule, I’ve been distracted; they are going to tumble out randomly, it seems to match the mood of the nation!

You’d be hard pressed to call where I live a street, but it didn’t stop us having a street party to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday a few weeks ago.

There were a lot of planning meetings (Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you  what I mean by this, is that there was a lot of drinking of prosecco  on Sunday afternoons for the previous month) I’ll tell you the planning was just as sociable as the party.  We then went on holiday and left the neighbours to all the hard work, arriving back in time for the sound of popping corks.  They did a fab job, we had  music,  flowers, porta-loos, road closed signs, bollards and bunting, a proper party.

Road Closed_

We even had very official notices to close the road, who could resist a throning of neighbours?

Thronging_

 

Thronging 2

We didn’t divert any carts as far as we know, a few cyclists and a couple of walkers meandered through the tables, most took  the diversion in good  heart.

We brought out the finest vintage food (the ‘food miles’ of some of it could be measured in inches rather than miles)

pickle

Ate proper pie (Yorkshire pie, brought over the county boundary under special licence).

proper pie

I may have mentioned the prosecco before

drinks

So many cakes

cake

and a few gate crashers.

Gate crasher Moo over

We raised money for charity too, we are very lucky to have such lovely neighbours…


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Unidentified Emotions

As a friend put it on Friday, in the wake of the EU referendum results ‘I’m experiencing emotions I can’t name, I certainly haven’t felt them before’.

Politics isn’t something I’d normally mention here, but the referendum and  decision  for the UK to leave the EU is to big to walk on by.  I’m gutted. Horrified. Sad and bitterly disappointed for my boys. A few of those unidentifiable emotions my friend mentioned are swilling around in the mix too.

A conversation I overheard, seemed to me, to capture the fact that many folk hadn’t got a handle on the chain of events voting ‘leave’ would set in motion.

First women. ‘My son says Nando’s are leaving the UK because of Brexit

Second women. ‘Oh my god, you’d think it was the end of the world, all we did was put a cross in a box on a bit of paper!’

I wasn’t sure if to laugh or cry, so I  just stood in front of the newspaper stand in crushing bewilderment.

Mr Uphilldowndale and I were set to go to Loweswater, in Cumbria on Friday, in preparation  for Daz’s Memorial  fell race.  We didn’t like going and leaving Joe home alone, he’d been up all night watching the results come in and was as down as we were; but Spud the dog stayed at home to keep him company, as ironically Tom is away, in Europe, working (we cast a proxy vote on his behalf).

 

We stopped by at Dodds Wood and climbed up to the viewing point to see the osprey’s  this  and a walk in the woods did us good and soothed our souls a little.

What now

The next day I had chance to contemplate the hills and some of the many emotional events of the last few weeks, and some of those emotions spilt out. The sheep was my confidante .

Don't ask me. I didn't vote._

What more can I say.

Tek Care


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Charming

I’ve been enjoying the multitude of birds coming to the feeder, something to brighten  very grey, wet,  bedraggled days.

feeder

Whilst  perhaps not enough finches to describe them as a charm,  certainly enough to lift the spirits.

charming finches_

When we did our recent building project, I came under pressure to cut this tree down,

goldfinch_

‘Its in the way of the view’ they said. ‘No, it is part of the view’ I said.

goldfinch 2

 

Jammy and Dodger the cat haven’t been paying much attention to the birds, under floor heating and Spuds bed is obviously a more attractive option.

dodger_


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Unknown Names

Not named

I found the image above in the box of family photos. It’s not named, which is rather sad.

I do know the name of this young man, but nothing about his uniform and medal. Can any readers help me?

Jack Winterbottom

Here he is again, a man now and looking rather dashing.

Jack Winterbottom adult

I went down to the service at the war memorial on Sunday, I’d not been able to go for the last couple of years. It was sad to note that the WWII two veterans were not there. Suddenly, it seems, there has been passing of a generation. I missed them;  but I’ll not forget them, we will remember them.


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The Forgotten Army

Remembering VJ Day

When you go home don’t worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain “The Forgotten Army.” ― attributed to General Slim.

My Mum often told me how hard it was for her, when everyone was celebrating VE Day, not because she wasn’t of course delighted, but because her sweetheart, my Dad was serving in Burma, with the Royal Engineers, and for him the war was not over. So remembering VJ Day is a matter of importance for me.

He’s on the right in the foreground of this photo.

Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 3

 

This is the letter she sent to Dad, on hearing the news he was coming home, in November 1945, Marian was his older sister.

VJ letter home

The letter arrived too late for Dad, he was on a ship home by the time it arrived. It was sent safely back to blighty,  to his sisters address. I think Mum would be cross with me for posting her letter on the World Wide Web, but then  again she wouldn’t want anyone to forget either.

Dad used to tell just a few war stories, the same ones often!  But  I’m pretty sure they were what he considered palatable,  we never got to hear the full story, he came close once, to telling my brother, but stopped when he became tearful, and he had nightmare throughout the rest of his life.

Fourteenth Army

Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 2Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 3Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 4Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 5Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 6Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 7Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 8Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 9Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  EngineersBurma 

My Dad died eighteen years ago, when Joe was just a few weeks old and Tom was two years old, so sadly they have no memory of him. Joe got his A Level exam results on Thursday, and of course it was one of those moments that you want to phone mum and dad and tell them the news:  looking at these photos, maybe it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Joe has chosen to do a degree in civil engineering…  As they say around here ‘what’s in the tree comes out in the branches’.

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