Uphilldowndale

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


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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.

 

 

 

 

 


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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.


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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

 

 


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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

 

 

 

 

 


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Death of a maiden

Holly Cross church Illam, Staffordshire,  there has been  church here for a long, long time

Ilam was not recorded in the Domesday Book, though there was without doubt a church and settlement here at that time. The earliest written record comes from 1004 when King Aethelred confirmed the gift of Ilam to Burton Abbey in the will of a lord named Wulfric.

It’s a church in need of a little TLC, but then most are, but it had a smell, a little more on the side of decay than just old and dusty. There were several things to intrigue the curious ( with a fair wind, I can probably spin it out to three blog posts).

Now what are these, hung in the arch?

Illam church

It was tricky to get a good look, and we could see no information (even when we had found the light switch, which we were invited to use so long as we turned them off when we left). Clusters of paper flowers and a glove? I’ve never seen anything like them before in a church.

Illam church Maiden Garland Crants

Later I turned to the Internet for answers.  I discovered they are maidens’ garlands or crantses, they were made for the funerals of young women,

a special garland for the funeral of a young, unmarried girl; i.e. for one who had died chaste. These “maidens’ garlands”, also known as crantses, from a Dutch word meaning a crown or chaplet, were originally a simple circle of flowers placed on the head of a deceased maid to symbolise her purity. They were perhaps an echo of the bridal crowns which are still to this day held symbolically over the heads of a couple during the wedding service in the Eastern Orthodox church.

The earliest surviving crantses, that can be dated, was made in 1747  

I may have to and see if I can find some more, when I’m on my travels, there is a full history here

A poem by Anna Seward, 1742-1809

‘The gloves suspended by the garland’s side,
White as snowy flowers with ribbon tied,
Dear village! long these wreaths funereal spread,
Simple memorials of the early dead.’

Illam church Maiden Garland_

And now I find Anna Seward was involved with the Lunar Society and that her friend was married to Richard Edgeworth.  It was a small world then?

You have to wonder how on earth any Crantese have survived,  now I’m off on the history of paper making in the UK, would they be paper or vellum? I might be gone for hours, I love how blogging does that.

There were two major developments at about the middle of the eighteenth century in the paper industry in the UK. The first was the introduction of the rag-engine or hollander, invented in Holland sometime before 1670, which replaced the stamping mills which had previously been used for the disintegration of the rags and beating of the pulp. The second was in the design and construction of the mould used for forming the sheet. Early moulds had straight wires sewn down on to the wooden foundation, this produced an irregular surface showing the characteristic laid marks, and, when printed on, the ink did not give clear, sharp lines. Baskerville, a Birmingham printer, wanted a smoother paper. James Whatman the Elder developed a woven wire fabric, thus leading to his production of the first wove paper in 1757.

Illam church Maiden Garland Crants 2

Mr Uphilldowndale observed that the  untimely death of two maidens, didn’t seem very many, considering how short life expectancy was back then! (Maybe he’d been looking at the Mills and Boon books at the back of the church.)

Mills and Boon_

Many garlands have passed.

For all their fragility, many garlands would have survived but for being discarded during church restorations or simply removed, as at Hope, where in 1749/50 churchwardens were paid one shilling and sixpence for ‘removing ye Garlands to make ye Church lighter’.

If there were enough to keep the light out of the church, that was a lot of maidens.


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At a crossroad

I’m still here, not that you would think so, from the lack of posts.

I’ve been busy putting a project to bed, its nearly done now, I’ve only a couple of days work left to do. What next, I don’t know,  I suppose you could say I’m at a small career crossroad .

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This extravagance of signage for a modest little junction, is at Wetton Mill in the Manifold Valley


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Missing him already

Joe has been home for the Easter break, it was as though he brought the fair weather with him, the sun shone brightly each day he was home.

No one could say he is a typical student,  one that lies in bed until lunch time*, he caught the 04:35 train from Cardiff, for two reasons he said, one it the cheapest ticket ( he is his fathers son) and two it gave him an extra day at home.  He arrived  at the station in the village, in time for us to pick  him up and collect breakfast from the bakers, and a couple of bags of pet food for Spud the dog and Jammy the cat from the pet shop too.

We seem to have packed a lot into a few days, and yet it’s been very relaxed. The hen house has moved, an old stone gate post has had the ‘stone henge’/ ‘engineers live here’ treatment of rollers and crowbars to move it up the yard, windows have been re-glazed, the drain from the pond cleared ( we are sorry about accidental the demise of a frog though). Friends entertained, ice cream devoured, a birthday celebrated a wedding anniversary toasted to.  Time sat chatting in the sun. Too much chocolate eaten.

Now he’s returned to Wales, and his the world of work and study, his bedding is washed and  on the line.

Duvet

Then the thunder clouds rolled in, a fist full of  delicious warm sunny days and 21consecutive days without rain came to an end, and I had to bring the laundry in.

*OK he does sometimes, but if motivated by a bargain or an archery competition, he will be up and gone before first light.