Uphilldowndale

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


2 Comments

National Memorial Arboretum

I’m not sure how we didn’t really know anything about the National Memorial Arboretum , other than we’ve often passed the direction signs to it on the A38, and said to ourselves ‘we’ll call in there one day.’

It was much busier and bigger than I’d imagined, its 150 acres and over 300 memorials.  We didn’t mange to see everything we’d planned to before the winter light faded, we will return another day.

This memorial was one of many that stopped us in our tracks.

nma sapper support hand_

the plaque says it all.

nma sapper support

nma sapper support hand full shot

It was seeing the maquette, for the next memorial, when we visited the Flanders Museum in Belgium earlier this year, that was the driver for me to find out more about the arboretum.

This is the memorial to the soldiers who were shot at dawn, during the First World War

shot at dawn memorial 2

Commemorates: 309 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot for desertion or cowardice during World War I.  Most  were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed. Today it’s  recognised that many of them were underage and suffering from shell-shock. Andy Decomyn’s statue is modelled on Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 17. In 2006 a posthumous pardon was granted.

Each post bears the name of those who were executed, so many of them were so young, just children.  As the women stood next to me said, ‘it’s chilling’.

shot at dawn memorial

 

Advertisements


4 Comments

Let there be light, and transparency

It might have been cold the day we visited Haddon Hall, but at least it was bright. We’ve had some very wet, slag grey days this last week, I doubt we’d have managed to see some of the historic detail had we been there on those days.

The windows at Haddon are beautiful.

Haddon leaded light

We debated the windows, Mr Uphilldowndale said the undulating waves of glass was a feature designed to add strength, I said it was to make it look sparkly.

Haddon leaded light 3

During the 19th and early 20th century a great number of important medieval houses were restored and had their windows returned to an earlier style of glazing. The glazing of the western range of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, is particularly effective as each pane is set at a different angle to those adjacent, creating jewel-like facets when seen from the exterior. 

Look at the graffiti,  you’d need to be posh to leave your mark, back in the day, not every one had a precious stone ring, with which to make a statement. Haddon leaded light writing_

this window tells you what a posh gaff it is.

Haddon leaded lights  panel.jpg

A very pretty addition to the Christmas decorations was the Wishing Tree, set by the window and bathed in sunlight, it was beautiful in its simplicity

Haddon wishing tree

You could add your own wishes if you  wanted too. I guess we all have many things to wish for in 2019,  I for one wish for a little more light and transparency from our world leaders and politicians, is it too much to ask?

Haddon wishing tree 2


3 Comments

Grave Matters

It’s no secret that on our travels, I’m often to be found in grave yards. I find them a fascinating social history, and wildlife refuges.

Whilst on our trip along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, we thought we’d look up some Mr Uphilldowndale’s ancestors

IMG_1795 (2)

Frustratingly, given that we’d already been in about 20 graveyards ,and some of them were very impressive, I have to say; this is Kilmacduagh dating back to the 7th century 

IMG_1788 (2)

we found the one we wanted in Edgesworthstown to be locked.

Edgeworths town church.jpg Ahh well, we’ll make an appointment next time.

 

The Irish, take dying very seriously, it’s not  a topic they shy away from. My holiday reading for this trip was ‘My Fathers Wake’ by Kevin Toolis, how the Irish teach us to live love and die  it helped me to read the graveyards in a different way.

You’d never see a sign like this in an English graveyard.

Grave Matters

In England the  neighbours of the bereaved might bring flowers, offer their condolences, but would they offer to dig the grave? No.

The artefacts left at graves, also told a story, and were very different from what you might see in most of the UK, apart perhaps from areas where there is  a large Irish Catholic populations.

IMG_1733 (2).JPG

We were a bit worried about Mary, it was 25c, it must be very hot in there.

globe

And when the Irish talk about family graves, they can go back a few generations, with newer  memorial stones added.

later stones

Makes you think, doesn’t it.

the greatest sin


3 Comments

Skibbereen

We touched on Ireland’s Great Famine in the last post,  It’s difficult to comprehend, it needen’t have happened. Greed, arrogance, indifference and even ‘fake news’, that monies sent to help the starving would be used to buy arms, now where have we heard that?

Skibbereen Great Famine_

There’s always a bit of a dilemma when you’re travelling, how long to stay in one place how far to push on, have we seen everything we want to see, is there something else just around the corner?  We’d decided with this trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, ‘we’d get as far as we get’ there was no final destination, we’d a ferry home booked from Dublin, we’d  travel around the  south west coast and get as far north as we wanted, then hack east across country to catch our ferry. I’m glad we did this because otherwise, we could have missed spending time in Skibbreen, and finding the Skibbreen Heritage Centre, diminutive in size, it packs a punch, it caught me a little of guard to be honest. Some of its material is harrowing. Time spent there, informed the rest of our journey.

Burial ground Skibbreen 2

Here in this communal grave are  the remains 9,000 men women and children, many more died along the roads, or trying to fee to safety emigrating to America in the ‘coffin ships’.

IMG_1177

The grave is the two areas of mown grass, near the wall, next to the now busy road

Burial ground Skibbreen_

We paused to reflect on what we’d seen in Flanders earlier this year, and how the human race can think its self so clever; and yet it never learns, history repeats itself, and is in so much danger of doing so again

 

 

 

 

 


15 Comments

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

Ash- 3

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

ash small

 

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.

ash small 2

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

cattle

And the detail of some more abstract works.

pleated

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.

nest build 4

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

nest build

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

nest build 2


5 Comments

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.

new leaf.jpg

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…

20180511_162431.jpg

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

Tree Guard 6.jpg

here is the archaeology of the future.

At least there are alternatives

Tree Guard 7.jpg

The sooner we crack on with using them the better.

Tree guard 3

 

 

 

 


4 Comments

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.

Turtle skull.jpg

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.

Turtle copper.jpg

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!’

Turtle skull 2.jpg

We don’t know how this chap arrived.

Moose.jpg

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.

The Dairy 2

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.  

Dairy 3

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