Uphilldowndale

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


3 Comments

Time and tide

More from our travels in New Zealand,  November 2019

Had we not spent so long, wining and dining at Fleurs Place, we’d have arrived to see more the famous Moeraki boulders, before the tide came in!

Moeraki Boulders 3

Tide and a bit of rain wasn’t going to deter us though.

A Moeraki boulder wired aren’t they? Even more other worldly when emerging from the ground.

Moeraki Boulders 2

The broken ones reminded me of the contents of an ancient, open packet of Maltesers,   the kind of thing you might find in the back of the glove box in the car.*

NZ Moeraki boulders inside 2

But here is the scientific explanation

concretion is a hard, compact mass of matter formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between particles, and is found in sedimentary rock or soil.[1] Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. The word ‘concretion’ is derived from the Latin con meaning ‘together’ and crescere meaning ‘to grow’. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the host stratum.

NZ Moeraki boulders inside

The Maori oral tradition explanation, I understand this one more readily.

Local Māori legends explained the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe. This legend tells of the rocky shoals that extend seaward from Shag Point as being the petrified hull of this wreck and a nearby rocky promontory as being the body of the canoe’s captain. Their reticulated patterning on the boulders, according to this legend, are the remains of the canoe’s fishing nets.[5] 

We came across a party of Chinese tourists,no wedding dresses this time though, (the weather was hardly Instagram friendly).

NZ Moeraki boulders chinese tourists

We debated why they felt the need to wear face masks, we wondered if it a cultural thing, but whatever we were wondering in November 2019  it seems rather irrelevant now.

Moeraki Boulders 5

I guess there are no flights of Chinese tourist arriving in New Zealand,  it will be a hard hit for the tourist economy of South Island. But needs most certainly must.  The overshoes, and the rain coat, with a kind of visor hood, was something we’d not encountered before.

One of the party took a shine to Tom,  and wanted a souvenir holiday photo, he willingly obliged

Moeraki Boulders_

We were soon alone on the beach, and Tom couldn’t resist.  I think the tide had turned.

Moeraki Boulders 4

*what chance is there of ever finding forgotten chocolate treats in our car?


8 Comments

More than just books

It struck me on our travels through New Zealand, that Kiwi’s treasure their libraries.

Few can be any sweeter than  Glenorchy’s  historic library, first built in 1891,  by 1911 it had over 1,000 items  catalogued (they now have a modern library building too).

Glenorchy Library_

But what we did notice was that the libraries we spotted, seemed very innovative.

In Napier you didn’t  even need the library to be open to return a book, I’m pleased to see  the ‘loved it’ letter box is more worn than the ‘not for me’.

return books NZ

We should never underestimate the power of a library, or librarians, to change lives.

In Rotorua, they fund raise

Friends of library NZ.jpg

In Devonport, a suburb of Auckland, the library was open on Sunday.  Not something I’ve seen in the UK.

They weren’t shy at attracting visitors either, the trees outside were swathed in purple and white, in celebration of New Zealand’s proud history of women’s suffrage about which they were staging an exhibition.

Davenport Lib NZ

They’ve every right to be proud, 1893!

On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections

They can be proud of the new  library building too, it’s gorgeous.  And wait for it, its even got  microchip-activated cat door for elderly tabby Benjamin

The designers say the Devonport Library is being used in ways they hadn’t envisaged. Photo / Brett Phibbs

There is a lot going on in the libraries beside books; knitting groups, for example, some have gained international publicity recently,  which has led to an avalanche of orders. I loved the reaction to the demands for a certain beanie baby hat

Harry and Archie.

The group received thousands of orders for its hats, which are stitched in libraries and cafes around the country by volunteers. “It’s gone crazy, the orders have gone through the roof,” said Smith. “But there will be a delay for hats ordered now – the nature of our knitting groups is about community and nurturing mental health, so we don’t want pressure for anyone to make loads of hats in one week.

 

 


3 Comments

Downy nest down

Spud the dog and I found a nest today, a crushed cornucopia, a squashed tricorn hat, with an extravagant plume of horse hair. Mosses, lichens, feathers and webs, felted into a snug bivi bag of a home.

nest

The fact we found iton the ground suggest its not a story with a happy ending.

nest 2

We found it under the apple tree, near the conifer. I think its the nest of long tailed tits, one of my favourite birds. I’m guessing a magpie had something to do with its demise

nest down


6 Comments

Inside Eden

We decided on balance, we’d rather be warm and wet than cold and wet, so we didn’t linger outside in the grounds of The Eden Project, we went in to the rainforest biome,

Eden weather

It took a while for my lens to clear and even then, it was hard to capture the scale, I’ll settle for  telling you it is massive.

The Rainforest Biome covers about 16,000m² and is 50m high – you could fit the Tower of London inside it! The structure weighs 465 tonnes and contains 426 tonnes of air (dry air at standard temperature and pressure).

You can walk along  the canopy walkway, taking you high amongst the tree tops.

Eden mist

Beautiful orchids amongst the lush foliage.

Eden orchid

This reminded Mr Uphilldowndale and I of our visit to Borneo, many many moons ago, we were privileged to stay in a tribal longhouse;  I wonder, and worry if that part of the world still has it’s rainforest.

 

Eden long house

We ambled around in and amongst a party of lovely school children from Gordano school, who were having a ball.

eden school girls_

Their teachers told us The Eden Project has exceptional educational materials for the kids to use. We waited our turn to go up, right to the very top with them, Mr Uphilldowndale was not keen about the height,

Eden sky walk 2

But he was determined, he stayed in the centre of the platform, whilst I had a peek over the side, it was a long way down,

Eden sky walk 3

In this shot you can see the next batch of children patiently waiting to come up (not the place for overcrowding!)

Eden sky walk

The platform and the steps are suspended from the roof by wire ropes, so the steps sway a little, nothing  too dramatic, but enough to slow down even a teenager!

eden school boy

A magical place.

Eden flower

 


2 Comments

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…

 

 


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

 


7 Comments

Apple Tart

We know when it is truly Autumn, its when Spud the dog’s ratio of tennis balls to windfall apples, that he leaves lying around the house is 2:1 in favour of apples.

Apples 2 1 (2)

They are something of a health hazard, one of these days, it will the incident with the toy fire engine all over again, which  as I painfully remember resulted in a very bruised coccyx, rather than a cox

I’ve turned into a something of a mad apple lady, we have so many, the branches are straining under the weight of them and we’ve four trees.

I don’t seem to be able to make any inroads into them at all.  I’ve become obsessed, everywhere I go I have a  basket or box of apples with me. Please take my lovely apples  friends, colleagues neighbours, the ladies at exercise class,  no one can say no. (I could try standing on street corners I suppose, a bit like  like the man with the yards of lettuce).

Apples basket

Mind you, picking them is not without its hazards (Spud has to stay indoors, he runs off with them, and no one seems to keen on apples with canine teeth marks) On trying to reach the biggest and rosiest apples, for my friend Mrs McN,  the ones right from the top of the tree, one hit me in the face, I’ve an apple green bruise on my cheek… it’s ripening nicely