Uphilldowndale

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


1 Comment

Remembrance Day 2021

Lest we forget.

On our travels through Scotland in September, we came across these war graves.

This is the final resting place of five unknown sailors of the Merchant Navy, their bodies were washed ashore between the 6th of September and the 14th October 1940

Kilmore Cemetery
Dervaig – Island of Mull

No description available.

You can read more about the circumstances of their deaths here.

Considering the span of these dates over which the bodies were recovered I wonder if these were shipmates of Able Seaman Davies (see above) of S.S. Bibury, or crewmembers of S.S. Thornlea. Both vessels were travelling in the same convoy OB205 which dispersed on 30th August 1940. The two vessels remained together and were torpedoed by U46 on 2nd September 1940 off the West coast of Ireland, 55.41N 14.30W. The S.S. Thornlea however only lost three crewmen, the rest being rescued by the Canadian Destroyer H.M.C.S. Skeena, and the Norwegian S.S. Hild.

Other bodies were found on the beaches of the island of Iona.

And in the cemetery in Lockerbie, a war grave from the First World War, to commemorate Private EP Fergusson, of the Highland Cyclists Battalion.

The Highland Cyclist Battalion was a bicycle infantry battalion of the Territorial Force, part of the British Army. Formed as part of the Volunteer Force in 1860, it became a Volunteer Battalion of the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) in 1881. In 1909 it became an independent unit and served in the United Kingdom throughout the First World War. In 1920 it was converted as part of the Highland Divisional Signals.

No description available.


5 Comments

Scotland in September

Scotland is a beautiful place to be in September, you know the weather has the potential to be lively, and that’s OK, just pack the right gear, although having not been out and about in the campervan since the start of the pandemic, we had kind of forgotten some of the rudimentary rules of dealing with wet gear in a confined space, and way more stuff became damp and soggy than should have done, it took us a day or two to dry out, but we had a great trip and we came back physically refreshed and our camper van skills rebooted.

So in no particular order, a September jolly north of the border, carefully following the Covid-19 rules and regulations, as laid out by the Scottish Government, and keeping ourselves to ourselves, as much as possible; no wild camping and staying on pre-booked approved campsites.

Whilst heading north, a visit to Jupiter Art Land south of Edinburgh, a sculpture park. We’ll start with the Gateway, a glorious quirky swimming pool

Gateway, designed by artist, Joana Vasconcelos

The nine meter wide pool, looks a fabulous place for a party! The house in the background is the home of the Wilson family, the art and parkland that surround it are a trust.

Beautiful things at every turn.

Who can resist going through a gate like this?


8 Comments

Waving from over here

How are you all? I hope you are all well.

It’s a long time since I last posted. I took a quick snap of some sweet peas from the garden today, and my mind wandered back to a very early blog post I wrote about sweet peas flourishing so late in the season. The memory prompted me to pitch up here.

It’s years since I’ve grown sweet peas, they seem to need lots of tender love and care and coaxing in the month of May, and into early June, which is our favoured time to take off in the campervan for a few weeks. It always seems a big enough ask of our neighbour to take care of the cat the hens and the house plants, without complicating matters with tender garden plants.

A ‘big van trip’ wasn’t something we wanted to do in May, with the vaccination programme still rolling out.

So I thought I’d give them ago if I was at home to look after them. Despite the random weather this year, they have thrived*, the perfume has lost its intensity now, but they are still throwing a party in the kitchen!

We might not have had a ‘big van trip’ but we did get away at the end of September, to Scotland, and yes it was our lovely neighbour continuing to pick the blooms in our absence that has led to this glorious flush of blooms. I hope you have neighbours as generous as ours.

* I tried the same with dahlias this year too, disaster, not a bloom. Which is a shame, I’ve always loved a dahlia. Can you see me?


6 Comments

Meadow Muse

I hope you are all keeping safe. It’s a long time since I posted, time seems to have taken on a different dimension, I’ve little comprehension of what day or date it is. Sometimes this state of affairs seems to have been forever, then I’m surprised that another week has passed.

The lifting of restrictions on travel and social meetings, seemed premature to us, so we’ve pretty much carried on as we were. We count ourselves very lucky not to live in the vicinity of some of the most popular beauty spots in Derbyshire, and other places that are not beauty spots, but that seem to attract people with very little in the way of common sense .

We have been able to keep ourselves to our selves.

The garden, pond and field have been a rich source of pleasure. The pond seems to have relished the prolonged dry sunny period, in spite of the spring that feeds it drying up. With the irises bursting into flower it had a showy ‘Ta Dah’ kind of moment.

There have been droves of damselflies, I tried to identify them, and rapidly brought it down to the following categories, red

and blue.

It was enough information for me.

We are relieved that our son Tom, is safe and well in the happy place called New Zealand. We’d be lying if we didn’t admit to being more than a little envious of how quickly the New Zealand government have been able to lift their restriction. I fear we are in this mess for a long time to come.

So I’ll keep on watching the grass grow.

And try and workout the new WordPress editor. I’m reminded of a washing machine that has about 30 different program options, when you only ever use two or three at most.


6 Comments

Note to self

It’s always tempting when the seed catalogues drop through the letter box on the darkest of winters days, to get a bit carried away by the promise of summer, and spend a lot of money. (Sarah Raven’s catalogue is particularly seductive)

It’s even harder this year with the memory of New Zealand’s summer flowers still fresh and fragrant in my mind.

NZ Geum 2

However, no mater how much restraint I show, yellow and orange geums will be on the list  These  beauties were  in Christchurch Botanic Gardens.  Which felt very familiar,   very British (only sunnier) similar to Buxton’s Pavillion Gardens, in Derbyshire.

The gardens are home to The Peacock Fountain  which was made at Coalbrookedale Foundry in Shropshire, England; this blog has explored the Coalbrookedale  Museum of Iron in a previous post, and its easy to see this fountains linage.

Built  in 1911it’s not always been universally popular,  its quite ornate…

Erected by the Christchurch Beautifying Association from funds bequeathed by the late Hon. J. T. Peacock

Peacock Fountain Christchurch_.jpg

I think we can safely say it has been beautified,  however one writer told the press of the time 

 ‘it exhibited no more taste than the gaudy decoration used by travelling showmen to embellish their merry go-rounds.’

Which I feel is a little harsh.   Now back to the seed catalogue,  which of the Geums will it be?   And do they come with added butterfly?

 

 


4 Comments

Picture perfect

More of our New Zealand travels,  November 2019

Wanaka

Having flown for 28 hours, it was good to arrive ( flying  Manchester, Dubai, Sydney, Sydney to Queenstown) With two hour stops at Dubai and Sydney, there wasn’t much hanging about and all went as smoothly as it could. I concluded that a kind of ‘shut down’ of the brain was required, I couldn’t concentrate to read, so I watched a lot of film, TV and listened to podcasts,  the £25 noise cancelling headphone were a godsend, than you Mrs B for the tip.

I’ll have to grab the photos of our planes decent into Queenstown  off Mr Uphilldowndale’s phone. What a way to arrive.

It’s not hard to see why our boy has fallen in love with this place.

NZ Lake Wanaka framed_

The following day we had breakfast at the Waters Edge Hotel, the first of many memorable meals of the trip. NZ does food, coffee and wine with aplomb.

Tom drove us out to Mount Aspiring National Park, it wasn’t long before we were forging through fords and on unsealed road, that were altogether less potholed than than the A roads we’d left behind in Derbyshire .

NZ dusty road

It was positively Alpine

Wanaka cool feet

But with attitude, this looks like a high octane way to spend your weekends,  jet boating.

Wanaka power boat

And relax, the adventure, months in the planning has arrived.

Andy and Sam NZ Mt Aspiring NP

 

 


2 Comments

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.


9 Comments

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

 

 

 

 

 


9 Comments

Shed or shrine, a place to tinker

Tinkering in the shed (well a garage, actually) my late father did a lot of that. It was his happy place.  When I saw this video I was so moved, not just by the dedication of Lee John Phillips, skill and determination to record the contents of his grandfathers shed, no, it was the Flora margarine tubs with there handwritten scrawly labels, that caught my breath.  My Dad did that. I can feel the brittleness of  each tub,  see the aged  yellowing plastic, the presence of its weighty load of rusty screws.

 

Dad’s garage may have looked chaotic to the uninitiated, but it had a filing system as complex as a giant Amazon warehouse,  just minus a robot.   It was all in Dad’s head.

When Mum died five years ago, and we set about the task of  clearing the family home, my siblings and I were pretty confident, we’d got the garage sussed, Dad pre-deceased mum by 18 years and a couple of years after he died, we’d hired a skip (at a price that would have horrified my him) to dispose of all those important little things he’d been saving just in case. Screws, wingnuts, little slithers of Formica, rubber belts and brushes. Old keys and watch faces. Tobacco tins and string. Bits and pieces that would have saved him a penny or two, and given him the priceless satisfaction of making and fixing.  At the time the task seemed never ending, my brother installed greedy boards on the skip as it started to overflow.

The task wasn’t as dangerous as dealing with his secret hoard of home brew,

home brewBut the second wave of garage clearing revealed  more stuff and memories than we’d bargained for (I saved this WWII ammunition box, and a selection of tools for Joe, they cleaned up nicely).

Dad's amo box_

I’m glad I took some photographs, drawing every item would have been beyond me in both skill and time. We’d kind of forgotten how ingenious some of Dad’s creations were, a tad Heath Robinson at times, but he made what he’d got, work for him (here, on the right, a device for trimming the climbing rose around the front door)

Dad's clippers

Dad often made his own tools, the childhood swing that he made for me, would disappear from time to time, seconded into the garage, to be used to support a pulley to lift out car engines, just as he designed and fabricated it to do.

As the world starts to realise the necessity of Reduce Reuse and Recycle, I can think how wrong I was, Dad was ahead of his time not behind it.

 

 


2 Comments

Sleeping with corncrakes

It was one of my Hebridean holiday aspirations to see a corncrake, a secretive little bird, that at one time used to live in our meadow,  here in  north Derbyshire so Freddy the farmer told me.

Killed off: The Corncrake

Freddy was born around 1920, and farmed from this house until the 1970’s, when during that life time the corncrakes disappeared from our meadow, I don’t know, but I do know that there are now only  just over a thousand calling males (and hopefully a similar number of females) in the UK. The birds demise has been a result of changes in farming practice, and the birds reluctance to break cover when the grass is mown, you can guess the rest.

One of the best places to find them is the islands of the Outer Hebrides, where much work is being done to give them the best chance of breeding safely.

One you’ve heard a corncrake, you will know its call forever.

We heard plenty but didn’t see a one.  They favour clumps of nettles and long grass.  I spent a long time staring at clumps of nettles, knowing the blighters were in there.

what no corncrake.jpg

They’d lure you in with a call, then fall silent for fifteen minutes or so, then, just as you were starting to think you’d move on they’d give another rasping call.

The best time to see and hear them, is at dusk, or dawn, or just after it has rained. the problem with dusk and dawn in the Outer Hebrides in June, is that dusk is very late and dawn is  very early.  We heard plenty, especially around four am. I have the badge to prove it.

I slept with corncrakes!

A calling corncrake is a lullaby I can sleep with.