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


Red for Danger

Fungi -1

Continuing with the fungi theme, I found this  fairy-tale  specimen in a forest in Wales.

We’ve been away for a weeks holiday and very nice it was too (that’s is the holiday was nice, the weather could have been kinder). I’d like to tell you I toiled for hours through the forest to find such a handsome specimen, but I’d be lying, I found it in the car-park whilst Joe and I were waiting,

Fungi 2-1

for Mr Uphilldowndale and Tom to return from a mountain bike excursion on the Marin Trail in the Gwydyr Forest.  It was growing from the trunk of a birch tree. I used to know someone who made birch sap wine, and  from what I can remember (the memory is a little hazy) the brew was as potent as I suspect this toadstool is (I’ll not try to name the species, I’ll hope a fungi expert passes by the blog with the appropriate knowledge.)

Would you like to see how muddy Tom was on his return?

Mountain Bike Mud-1

You can visualise the dirty washing that has returned home with us can’t you?



Chloe’s World

My favourite work at the Beyond Limits exhibition

Chloe’s World by Jaume Plensa

Chloe's World -1

It seems like a hologram, despite being stone

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transient, a grainy TV images of the 1960’s? Or ‘Beam me up Scotty’ of the 1970’s?

Chloe's World 2 3-1

I have a need to dash off and see more of Plensa’s  work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


Study Skills

I don’t know about Tom*, but I’m sick to death of having my head stuck in a text book. So this morning, Mr Uphilldowndale, Spud and I went for a walk, it was just what the Doctor ordered, very refreshing, breathing new life into the blog muse**who to tell the truth, was feeling a little suffocated. So now I’ve plenty of spring shots in the bag, to slow release whilst I finish my work.

A handsome tree, dressed in  fizzy fresh foliage, straight out of the box.

Fresh out of the box tree-1 

And as we’ve not had a drystone wall of late, a sinuous and recently rebuilt  wall  braided by bluebells.

Blue Ribbon-1

As you can see, there has been a cut of silage, but due to the lack of rain this spring, it all looks a bit light weight.

* Tom had an English exam this week, he was asked to describe a country landscape in Summer and Winter, look at the header of this blog and you’ve got the scene; after the exam he had a text from  our friend Miss M down in London, she’d used the same landscape for the same exam.

** It was the blogs fourth birthday this week, shows how busy I’ve been I missed the party by three days *sigh*.


Black Birds in Every Direction

one way bird-1

Black birds, crows rooks, choughs in every shade of black and  in all sorts of places


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demon beak!-1

Nest building

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Down by the cathedral in St Davids, in the ruins of the bishop’s palace, some serious nest building (I messed up some shots here, by accidentally leaving the camera on the wrong setting,  I’m loath to admit it, but my need bifocals can not be far away.)

But I’m sure you’ll get the gist of them; that when building your new home,

Bird to branch ratio -1

it is wise to measure up before going to the builders merchants

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A Deluge of Daffodils

My journey, my long, long journey to St Davids was swathed in day-glow daffodils (well, narcissus mainly, if we are going to be pedantic about it) every verge and every village had daffodils in abundance.

two flies and a daffodil -1

For me, it was a seven hour drive from Derbyshire, there is no swift way to St Davids, no matter how long you look at the map or bicker with the sat-nav: I chose the meandering route through the middle of Wales, then along the coast on a road that has such a pinch point  through the centre of  Fishguard that only light traffic takes it as a route, this suited me fine.*

Fishguard -1

Mrs Ogg came from Cambridgeshire, a journey that takes just as long but has more motorway and probably less daffodils.

I stopped off on route to watch the red kites at  Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre

Red Kite-1

I loitered around for feeding time (3pm) and was rewarded with some 30 kites coming down to feed (We tried doing this last time we were down this way, it was so foggy we saw not one red kite) this time it was a treat

Red Kite 4-1

I wasn’t all together chuffed with the photos I managed,

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but I did enjoy the spectacle

Red Kite 3-1

As I prepared to leave, on my ‘onward journey’ there was a rat-a-tat-tat on the car window,  to my surprise it was the Grandma of one of Joe’s school friends, who was visiting the area, so strong was her association with me to the school gate that she asked ‘Are you going to get the boys from school now?’ Err… it is 3:15pm and I’m four hours drive from home, I think I might be a bit late for the school run?

*Traveling home on Sunday it was more tiresome, lots of cars  with elderly drivers,  the sort that only come out once a week to go to church or the occasional trip to the shops, and for some reason a surfeit of tractors trailing muck spreaders


A Magical Place in Spring

You might remember  I posted on the  magical lane, cloaked in it’s Narnia frostiness,  well March has brought a mellowing, but the ice queen has not yet departed, we had a sharp frost last night.

Frosty lane March 2-1

Frost, blossom, verdant green growth, all rolled into one

And across the lane mysterious mist and saffron light 

Frosty field -1


Number 5

Our weekend away in Surrey; a ‘Number 5 Weekend’.

I’d best explain, when Mr Uphilldowndale was a student many, many, years ago… he shared a house with nine other students,  the house was Number 5 Lansdowne Terrace, Exeter.

Ever since that time they have been getting together every couple of years or so for a bit of a reunion  (Some of them you have already met, there’s Mr Redcar and the bride and groom for a start) but now, what with wives, husbands, partners, children and those that spent so much time at Number 5, they might have well of lived there (and have therefore been awarded honorary membership of this special group) the party numbers 27*. So now, a get together requires a largish venue, a Youth Hostel usually fits the bill, if we take over the whole place.

Mr Redcar organised the weekend he is to be complimented on his efforts, it is not easy getting agreement or consensus of opinion out such a large group, it is, and always has been like herding cats

which way now-1

We ate lots of treats, Number 5 know how to cook for big numbers and big appetites,  we drank a fair bit. Walked some, to the top of the hill, to justify the over indulgence. Mr Redcar took a group photo

team photo-1

We then went to the pub, where the northern contingent blanched at the price of beer in the prosperous south.  Then we walked back to the hostel, through the woods, it rained some, but we were not overly concerned.  It can’t have been more than a couple of miles back to the hostel, but we still managed to lose half the party. Time passes, not much changes.

In the woods-1

We ate more treats, lemon drizzle cake, chocolate brownies, fruit cake, flapjack, sponge cake. A party then took Tom and Joe off to the pub, to initiate them in the noble art of watching the rugby down the pub, time passes, not much changes. 

*We were more than 27, but some of the children of Number 5 have now spread their wings and are off, around the world, being more grown up than their parents!