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


Quietly Content.

Home the place to be, I’ve got a fire lit, music, even a scented candle for goodness sake* and the for the first time in what seems like a long while, the chance to play about with all things creative. I’m quietly content.

The day got off on the right foot with a sunny start, Spud and I went down  the field to the copse, I wanted to check everything was OK where we buried Dacy the cat. The remaining berries on the Buckthorn caught my eye.

buckthorn -1

I  planted Buckthorn in the place where we’ve chosen bury our pets, for very sentimental reasons.

As a child my Dad always used to dose the dogs, we had Border terriers, with syrup of buckthorn if they were unwell. I’m not sure it was the right thing,  it was probably a very antiquated idea even in the 1960’s; from 1891 the Lewis Lloyd collection

"Occasional Physic for dogs

1 oz Jalap
1 pint of syrup of buckthorn

Dose for a full sized dog.
A large tablespoon twice a week, in hot weather more especially.

Jalap "consists of the dried tubercules of Ipomoea Purga, Hayne (N.O. Convolvulaceae), a climbing plant indigenous to the eastern slopes of the Mexican Andes." (The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911). It was used (in humans) as a purgative, as was Buckthorn syrup (The Physiomedical Dispensatory, William Cook, MD, 1869).

But there worse things to give a dog, see the prescription for distemper

For distemper
outward application

½ oz White Hellebore
½ oz Black Brimstone
1 Pint of old milk (1 quart for a very small dog), mix together and sponge the dog well all over (particularly the chest and underneath parts). Shut the dog up in a warm place, it makes him very sick and purged for some hours – when recovered sufficiently feed for the first 24 hours on slops and no meat, afterwards keep him well. Tho’ the hellebore is poison, dog need not be muzzled. The above is a capital dressing for Sporting dogs once a month during the summer and hot weather."

I think it would take more than a scented candle to mask the smell of a dog drenched in sour milk

*The candle is very nice, so much so, that Mr Uphdd, who is not a fan of such things does not protest, it’s by Neom,  and if you wanted to buy buckthorn hedging  plants, I’d recommend the very nice people at Weasdale nurseries  their fine plants have featured here before



Size Doesn’t Matter

Trust me, it’s just a Christmas tree, its size will not make your Christmas ‘perfect’ nor is it the difference between life and death.

I was Christmas shopping last week when I found myself in a delightful but tiny shop,  when I shop there I have to quash rising feelings of claustrophobia because it sells such nice things and is, unlike the rest of town a ‘real’ shop: it is so small and intimate that everyone is sort of forced into one conversation. Well that is my excuse.

Another customer was going on, and on, and on, about the trials of buying a fresh Christmas tree. There was nothing right with the selection of trees on sale in Derbyshire this year (and trust me she had checked every last one of them).

Tree angst included

  • Too expensive ‘who would charge over £45 for a Christmas tree, what with the recession and everything’ *
  • ‘I always have a six foot tree, nothing less will do’
  • ‘Getting the tree just right makes my Christmas’
  • ‘My friends children are so upset because they haven’t got a six foot tree this year.’
  • ‘I took the first one back and changed it for another that was better.’

It was probably a bit blunt of me, but the words just fell from my mouth…

“I’m sorry, I think you need to ‘get a life life’ here; it is just a Christmas tree you are talking about.  Why don’t you just get some nice twigs and some pretty lights.”

She looked at me as though I had arrived from a different planet, and in truth I probably have.

Vintage lights 2


(*probably the person who has invested time and effort in growing the thing for the last six years, they will be trying to recoup their investment and buy nice things for their children…)


Golden Hour

There has been little in the way of golden light over the last few days, here is my walk to work on Tuesday morning at eight o’clock.

Winter walk to work-1

I saw not a soul, the popular dog walking and view point was deserted, of dog and views, thanks to a passing snow squall

What, no view--1

I wore my new Yaktrax, I was very impressed. Not a slip or a slide and altogether pleasanter walking on the icy road. 

What, no hills--1

This morning I had a later start  at work and I managed to squeeze in a host of chores  in the hour before I left, very satisfying,  a golden hour; amongst others.

I cleaned  out and moved the hen ark (on my own, a heavy job, with, if I do say so myself, the ingenious use of rollers )  the ark was resting on a very muddy and squalid bit of field. The chicken were so delighted with the new grass in the run and fresh sawdust in the sleeping compartment that they took one look at the weather, felt the icy wind beneath their wings and went straight back in the ark for the day: so much for free range.

Re-filled the bird feeders, which are going down at a furious rate, I need to order some more feed


So Last Month

Look it’s the first of December, and I’ve not even posted photos from the beginning of November, sigh… Please excuse me, it’s due to circumstance beyond my control etc, etc.

The pink berried rowan is now devoid of berries, the birds have seen to that


and the wind has snatched the last remaining leaves.

ash tree-1

So the world from my window is less colourful and heading for a more austere, ‘sculptural’  sort of look. To photograph it would be a fine thing.


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?


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*.