Uphilldowndale

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


9 Comments

On reflection

A world of blogs and blog buddies is a good place to escape to right now.

There is only so much of the Covid-19 news stream that can be taken at one time. We need to pace our selves for the long haul, when we can’t see what lies ahead.

NZ self portrait

I’m planning to continue  blog the journey through the photos of New Zealand, from November 2019, when things seemed simpler and more secure. I’m going to try and find things of beauty to share here, to bring a little fresh air to our days. To nourish and to salve.

We are all going to need to look out for others as well as ourselves. When I talk to people who are carers,  I often use the analogy of the drop down emergency oxygen masks on planes, and the instruction to put it on yourself first, before you can help others.  Let yourself breath. A little bit of mindfulness, some exercise if you can, a warm bath, a phone call to a good friend. Little things can make a difference.

Before I disappear into the beauty of New Zealand again,

NZ Lupin pink and blue_

Please be careful where you take your Covid-19 information and advice from, there is a lot of misinformation out there  

Overseas readers might be surprised to learn that Derbyshire has history when it comes to containment of disease, of sacrifices by a community to protect others.  Dating back to 1665 in  and the  ‘plague’ village of Eyam   It seems all the more extraordinary when you think about how little they knew about how disease is transmitted!

An outdoor church service at Eyam in 1666, from a display in the local museum.

Stay safe.


6 Comments

Kea, a very smart bird

 

More from our travels through New Zealand, November 2019

Kea are alpine parrots, found in parts of South Island, New Zealand,  my first sighting was in the carpark at Arthurs Pass, sat on top of a bus shelter!

Sadly this  particular bird wasn’t interested in coming down to see us, which was a shame as they are very inquisitive birds, with a reputation for being a bit cheeky,  how did we find a shy Kea?.

So I was delighted to get to see one up close, this time in the car park at the Fox Glacier ( car parks, a reoccurring theme?)

They are a beautiful bronze green colour, not much smaller than a domestic chicken, with  bright crimson red feathers under their wing, which flash as they take flight.

NZ kia moss

Will you look at that beak!  This beak and the birds intelligence, its  ability to learn from each other is what drove them to the brink of extinction,  they developed a taste for mutton fat. This didn’t endear them to the  European settler farmers.

Kea NZ

 

Some birds perch on sheeps’ backs and dig through skin and muscle on the rump to reach the fat around the kidneys, which can result in fatal septicaemia. This behaviour is not common, but was the reason why kea were persecuted for over a hundred years.

Between 1860 and 1970, some 150,000 birds were killed for bounty.

If that wasn’t enough, ground nesting birds, the Kia are vulnerable to large ‘wipe out’  from  predator rodents when the beech mast is heavy. (It was not very long ago that the it was explained to me that ‘masting’  is a movable feast  and I call myself a country girl? )

Date:  08 April 2019 Source:  Office of the Minister of Conservation

Results from extensive seed sampling across the country in February and March point to the biggest beech mast for more than 40 years with exceptionally heavy seed loads in South Island forests. Rimu forests and tussock grasslands in the South Island are also seeding heavily.

Forest seeding provides a bonanza of food for native species but also fuels rodent and stoat plagues that will pose a serious threat to native birds and other wildlife as predator populations build up next spring and summer.

We saw evidence of this plague strolling in the forest near Arthur’s Pass, dozens and dozens of little rodents scampering across the path.

NZ rodent beech mast Arturs Pass

It was more  a climb than a stroll, through the forest. Stunningly beautiful.

NZ steps Arturs Pass 2

To the  Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall

NZ waterfall Arturs Pass 2

The Kia are curious and smart birds, they know, that wherever tourist are they are in with a chance of being fed, despite many notices explaining how this is not good for these rare birds.

So now to the most disturbing image of a Kia.  From the Department of Conservation social media feed.

My social media feed is awash with  birds,

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/mar/03/study-finds-parrots-weigh-up-probabilities-to-make-decisions?CMP=fb_gu&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1_aJMi782ixSsngw7L0TYFsc0Al2cK5x60qY7DP5OYMekYPFIWUnUIj2w#Echobox=1583269684

And  penguins,  I had to share this, for Shoreacres 

And this because it made me smile. People who care for birds make me smile.


5 Comments

Follow the signs

From our travels through New Zealand  November 2019

I was very taken with the pedestrian crossing signs in New Zealand’s towns and cities.

Instruction delivered with an inclusive and light touch.

Stop and go Maori style.

NZ Red stop_

NZ green stop_

In Napier, a beautifully preserved Art Deco town ( yet another post that must be written!) What I first thought to be a nod to guide dogs, turned out to be a tribute to Sheila Williams and her dog Raven.

Miss Williams led the New Napier Week Carnival in January 1933 to celebrate the town’s recovery from the devastating earthquake in 1931.

Crossing light green dog

 

Crossing light red dog

Not the sharpest of photos, but trying to take them whilst crossing the road,  passed as an extreme sport in my book.

At the library

NZ wise Dr_

In Picton,  a list of warnings,

NZ picton OK fun

so it’s OK to have fun, especially if it involves, ignoring the second instruction on the list.  Just standing on the rail would be enough for me, let alone jumping!

NZ Picton Jump

Some signs warm the cockles of your heart

Support centre NZ

And some are more worrying, and makes you think that as a tourist, what do you see, or more importantly understand about the places you pass through?

NZ no gangs

Something else we noticed, a Kiwi, doesn’t go indoors in dirty boots.  It’s just not polite,  outside the bank, please note muddy footprints from utility vehicle to kerb, and discarded gum boots (or wellies as they would be known in the UK).

NZ muddy boots_

I’ll leave you with this thought.

NZ bread

 

 

 


4 Comments

Brides on tour

Once I caught my breath, at the stunning sight of the lupins at lake Tekapo, something else caught my eye. At first glance I thought I could see people catching insects, moths maybe, or butterflies? Entomologists, studying the secret life of lupins perhaps? 

I saw white net drifting over the lupins, twirling, lifting and then falling from the breeze.  Yes that’s it, entomologists I thought.

But no, it was a bride, a Chinese bride on a wedding dress tour.  Tom had told me about this, yes wedding dress tours are a thing. Whoever knew?

Brides and grooms, from China, come to New Zealand to have their wedding photos taken in these beautiful, iconic locations.  I told you the lupins were photogenic.

NZ Wedding dress tour _

It’s big business.  The civil marriage takes place in China, the bride and groom then fly to New Zealand, spending thousands of dollars on hair, make-up, photographers the works. The photographs are then shown on big screens, back at the wedding reception in China. It’s a status symbol.

I’d assumed the bride would wear the same dress for all the different locations, and back at the wedding reception in China. But no, it’s a different dress for the reception at home and it is different dress for each location! The companies facilitating the photo shoots, hire out dresses too. 

I did think it must be a bit chilly for the bride. Note the photographer is wearing a puffa jacket…

Wedding dress tour 3

The groom looked a little less engaged in the job in hand than the bride. Maybe he wants to be an entomologist.

Wedding dress tour 4

We went on our way, heading for Mount Cook National Park, it was a public holiday, not that you’d know from the roads,  bank holiday traffic back in the UK, does not look like this!  (Yes the glacial blue is true to life).

Bank holiday traffic 2

But it can be surprising what you meet on these seemingly empty roads. as they say New Zealand roads are different. 

On our way to Glenorchy, we spotted something, or at least somebody in the road ahead.  And by the time we reached them they had sensibly stepped off the carriage way.

It’s a  risky business this wedding dress tour lark.

 

 

 

 

 


2 Comments

The Christmas post

If Christmas is a little bit messy, that’s OK.

Christmas card 11.5p Smantha .jpg

I’ve enjoyed  making some of my Christmas cards from stack of vintage postcards I found in a second hand book shop inKeswick, they are reproductions of stamps issued by the post office in the 1970s and 80s. Some had a Christmas theme, like the one above, published in 1981 I wonder what Samantha Brown is up to now, I hope she is still having as much fun with paint as she did back in 1981?

There were some very pretty ones. Christmas card golden apple 1980

This was a favourite

Christmas card 12p 1980

Some were not seasonal at all. I just chose them because they had a link to interests and hobbies of the intended recipient.

We’ve a friend. MR, who is a postal historian, I was delighted to find a postcard for him that celebrated postal history.  Spot on, couldn’t be better.

Every year we always await eagerly  the arrival of MR’s Christmas card to us, as we are curios to see what combination of  stamps he has used,  they are never recent issues, and often include 1/2p  denominations, I guess they must raise an eyebrow or too in the sorting office, they make us smile, we try to reciprocate, I’ve even added a Greenshield stamps   to his card before now, along with the correct postage, of course.

I wasn’t very quick off the mark, making or sending these cards this year, I didn’t start making them until after my brothers funeral.  

One card I was delighted to find was of an old English Sheepdog, it was the perfect one for a friend who is mourning the loss of his own dog of the same breed.

Meanwhile our card from MR landed on the door mat, bearing the very same postage  stamp as the postcard I’d just written and was about send.

OES

Shall we calculate the odds on that happening? Or shall we stick to stamp collecting?

Happy Christmas one and all.


5 Comments

Where did you get that cone?

In a nod back to my recent post about the thriftiness (and sheds) of our fathers, I thought I’d share this ingenious use of a road cone.  My father would have approved of its reincarnation as a downspout from a barn roof.

Rain cone 2_

When you need a road cone,  for use in the road, they are as rare as hens teeth. I’ve sat in on countless discussions of where we might source some cones for use at community events, the County Council nor the police will let theirs out of their sight (hummm, maybe that’s because they end up as downspouts?) That’s if they have any budget to buy them with in the first place.

It takes divine intervention to find cones for loan. 

Sunday Special Jesus Road cone_

Maybe there needs to be a redistribution of  cone wealth?

Coned off

 

 


9 Comments

Crab apple way

A few nights away in Cumbria, nr Ullswater, at one of our favourite sites, The Quiet Site (not sure why I’m telling you about it, every one will want to go, what with it’s swishy new zero waste shop an’ all   In the morning Mr Uphilldowndale had been charging around the hills on his bike, I put the kettle on to boil, to sustain my needs for tea and curled up under the duvet with a book, what a treat. Spud the dog snoozed contentedly.  In the afternoon we took a gentle walk along a track near the site, whilst the surface has been sealed at some time it looked little used by traffic.

Apple walk 3

We were surprised by the number and variety of crab apple trees we passed. I know that south Cubria is famed for its damsons, in fact the Westmorland Damson Association, celebrates them in every way.  

But I’d not seen so many apples before, It must look very pretty when they are in bloom, and a source of food for wildlife through the seasons.

Apple walk 8

They are hardy looking trees, that don’t give up when they are down

Apple walk 2

So many colours, bronze green

Apple walk 13

acid greens,

Apple walk

honeyed yellows

Apple walk 4

rusty red

Apple walk 10

rich plum shades

Apple walk 7

We don’t see crab apples in our hedgerows here in north Derbyshire, I tried asking a local, about how come there are so many varieties in just a mile or so of track, they weren’t very forth coming.

Apple walk 5

They can hardly have germinated from an apple cast aside by a passing car or (cart) can they?

The trees arising from discarded cores are genuine wildings, each one unique and with the potential to contribute their characteristics back into the apple gene pool, 

 

The apples had out paced the blackberries, the devil had seen to that.

Apple walk 6

Spud the dog usually like to bring home an apple or two, but these seem to have been a little too tart of his tastes.

Apple walk 12