Uphilldowndale

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


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Tale of Two Trees

A couple of years ago I purchased two Victoria Plum trees,  it was purchase made of nostalgia, Mum always used to buy me a bag of plums on our holidays each year, in my memory they were delicious, over the years I have deduced that they must have been Victoria plums, however these days they don’t seem very easy to find in the shops.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with two trees of plums, Mr Uphilldowndale doesn’t like them, it will be the mad apple lady all over again.

However as time passes I’m not convinced the two trees are siblings. Have I been sold a pup, or is one a late developer? They are growing a few yards from each other, same amount of light etc.

Exhibit one

Victoria left_

Exhibit one, buds

Victoria left bud 2

Exhibit two

Victoria right

Victoria right blossom_

As a foot note, its true what they say, when you plant a tree you always wish you’d done it five years earlier…

 

 

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More bricks than most.

Our visit to the Ironbridge area and Coalbrookdale, and our third museum of the day, the Coalport China Museum  

With its wonderful bottle kiln, which, whilst it looks aesthetically pleasing to the eye now, must have been a filthy smoke belching beast in its day.

Brick bottle kiln coalport

When it came to manufacturing ceramics, there were a lot of bricks involved.

Brick 8.jpg

As much craftsmanship in their manufacture as the fine ceramics that were produced from these building and kilns.

Brick bottle kiln

One of kilns (I’m not sure how many there were at this site originally,  I guess many) had been dismantled, however its remains gave a different view of how beautifully built these kilns were, just look at the curving deliciousness of these bricks, its stone that holds my heart, but bricks are flirtatious!

Bottle kiln

Everywhere you looked their were bricks, the floor of the yard

Brick 6.jpg

The walls, every brick must hold a story…

Brick wall coalport

 

 


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Cast in Iron

Shoreacres asked in my last post, about the difference between, cast and smelted  iron, the answer, both the long and the short versions can be found in the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron   But perhaps more readily accessible is this website

I enjoyed Shoreacres comment, this is what I love about blogging, things you’d never have known about, but for the comments of fellow bloggers…

This is so interesting. Now I’m trying to remember the difference between cast iron and smelted iron… I just learned that the difference is between cast and wrought iron. Wrought Iron is iron that has been heated and then worked with tools. Cast Iron is iron that has been melted, poured into a mold, and allowed to solidify. The difference came to mind because when I lived in Liberia, there still was so-called “Kissi money” circulating. It was made of iron by village blacksmiths, and circulated into the last century along with various other currencies.

I rather like the idea of a village blacksmith knocking out their own currency, a kind of quantitative easing?

There were many thing in the museum, made of iron that surprised me, whilst I’d seen garden benches before, I’d not seen household furniture, here a table chair and wall cupboard, how on earth did you fix a cast iron cupboard to a wall,? That’s what I want to know. It’s difficult enough hanging a picture at this house, with its ancient plaster.

Coalbrookdale furniture .jpg

As we left the museum, I was sad to see the nearby Coalbrookdale Foundry, the gates locked and in a sad state of dereliction, our old AGA would have been made there. It served many uses in our home from warming the dog,  To drying all manner of things

Snowy Mk11 Drying.jpg

And whilst our oil fired AGA is no longer with us  (it went on to a new home and will be working away somewhere) we now have a dual fuel range cooker, made by the same company, but not  it seems at this foundry.

I find this newspaper image so sad and poignant, as the employees left for the last time, after 309 years of production, they tied their boots to the iconic gates.

 

 

 

 

 


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Ironbridge

More of our travels,  this time Ironbridge in Shropshire, somewhere that has been on our ‘one day we’ll go to…’ list for a long long time. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site 

If Soho House and the Lunar Society was where the formative minds of the industrial revolution came together, this is where the base materials and skills became more than the sum of their parts

Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, and was greatly celebrated after construction owing to its use of the new material.

Iron Bridge

We didn’t realise the bridge had been swathed in scaffold and plastic for some considerable time,  whilst it had been renovated, it had been recently unwrapped, we overheard some of the locals saying they didn’t like its ‘new’ colour (which is actually the historically correct, original colour)  I like the colour because it reminded me of my dad, he used to paint anything that didn’t move with ‘red oxide paint’ (OK, so occasionally  he made an exception and got out a pot of ‘battleship grey’, but that was the full colour spectrum of his paint stock.)

Iron Bridge red

The Ironbridge Gorge provided the raw materials that revolutionised industrial processes and offers a powerful insight into the origins of the Industrial Revolution and also contains extensive evidence and remains of that period when the area was the focus of international attention from artists, engineers, and writers. The property contains substantial remains of mines, pit mounds, spoil heaps, foundries, factories, workshops, warehouses, iron masters’ and workers’ housing, public buildings, infrastructure, and transport systems, together with the traditional landscape and forests of the Severn Gorge. In addition, there also remain extensive collections of artifacts and archives relating to the individuals, processes and products that made the area so important.

Iron Bridge tolls

Ironbridge has ten museums, we managed three in a day, but we have a season ticket to return at our leisure.

Iron Bridge buildings_

If you are visiting Ironbridge, we feel we should give a shout out to the hospitality of The White Hart

White Hart Ironbridge.jpg

 

 


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Thinking of you, New Zealand

There are no words, for such atrocities.  They are beyond reason.

tree fern B&W

Dicksonia squarrosa, New Zealand Tree Fern

Our son Tom is living and working in NZ at the moment,  I’d kind of thought of it as a ‘safe place’ for his travels, but the world is not like that is it?  Just wishful thinking from a mum on the other side of the globe.

I have a brooch, a special present from my mum, made by a New Zealand artist Denna Gracie, who is based in Christchurch,  it’s inscribed with the Maori word Aroha,  

Aroha-2

Aroha, means love, compassion, or affectionate regard.  It seems appropriate for today, as is  the Kiwi expression Kia Kaha, stay strong. 

 

 

 

 


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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

 


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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