Uphilldowndale

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


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Time machine

Having seen astronaut Tim Peak’s landing craft, we thought we’d see if we there were any tickets available to see the exhibition of 12 Leonardo da Vinci drawings that was also showing. at the National Museum Cardiff,  ‘Yes’ they said, ‘two tickets available right now, come on in.’

144 of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection are displayed in 12 simultaneous exhibitions across the UK to mark the 500th anniversary of his death.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing features 12 drawings at each venue, all selected to reflect the full range of Leonardo’s interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

LD 12

I was surprised we were allowed to take photographs, but we were, so long as there was no flash used. Fumbling around with my phone to take a snap or two to upload to social media, I had a bit of a moment where I realised the phone was about to flash! I quickly bundled into the folds of my fleece, for fear of  a 500 year old de Vinci disappearing like invisible ink, in front of my eyes! (The Banksy incident was running through my mind).

LD 11

Was there anything he couldn’t draw or imagine?

DV8

Great feats of engineering and soft romantic portraits

DV5

The anatomical drawings are incredible.

DV3

Not only in terms of the observation,

DV1

but he clearly had a rich understanding of how the body works, which seems a head of its time, as the information  screen explained.

DV4

Leonardo da Vinci, wrote in backwards, ‘mirror writing’ as to why the jury seems to be out, but as a left handed dyslexic, who was made to write with ink  at primary school, yes a ‘dip pen’  it was 1968 not 1508! But I can remember the mess I made, so I can understand why he wrote the way he did, but not how!

And now I’m seeing the teacher responsible for insisting on me writing in pen and ink in this drawing, you get the picture?

Da Vinci 12

Afterwards we found our way to the coffee shop, to reflect that we had just been transported, from Tim Peake’s space travel, to five hundred years ago, when the polymath that was Leonardo da Vinci was sketching something remarkably like a helicopter all under one roof. Amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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You have reached your destination

We meandered our way through Shropshire, and the South Wales coalfields, to reach Cardiff, our boy Joe has been working in Cardiff on his industry placement year, what a cracking time he’s been having (he’s studying civil engineering at Swansea University). There is a very handy campsite, near the city centre, (book it is you can it is fully booked more often than not) this allowed us to catch up (and feed, what student doesn’t want mum and dad to turn up and take them out for dinner?) with Joe in the evenings and we got to have a good mooch around the city, with Spud the dog, close at hand.

We were on the doorstop of The Museum of Wales, at opening time, along with a large number of school parties, but we were swift of foot, and savvy to getting ahead of school parties, before teacher could raise their clipboard, we were off and in, to see astronaut Tim Peake’s *landing capsule, which has been touring the UK, it’s got a bit of a Sutton Hoo look about it, in the background, the parachute with which it drifted down to earth or came down with a bump, depending whose story you believe.

Tim Peake 8

It was very well lit, so you could see inside, not much room to swing a cat…

Tim 1_

it looks kind of basic doesn’t it, compared to the smart phone or tablet you might be reading this blog on?

Tim Peake 4

We were comforted to see, that if all else fails, there is a ring bider or two you can refer to for instructions what to do next.

Tim Peake 5

Not sure how you recharge it though.

Tim Peake 2

It looks like it took a bit of a knock, I’m sure a bit of body filler or gaffer tape would sort it though, no harm done.

Tim Peake 3

https://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2016/06/Soyuz_TMA-19M_landing

*Tim Peak is a bit of a hero in our books, not only for what he did in space, but with what he continues to do educating  and encouraging young people into studying  STEM  sciences and with his involvement of  The Scout Association

 

 


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Dig Deep

I want to go to Big Pit, said Mr Uphilldowndale, after we’d been wallowing in the history of the industrial revolution in Ironbridge. ‘That sounds interesting’ I said, ‘but I’m not going down it.’ For decades Mr Uphilldowndale has been regaling me with his description of what it was like, back in the very early 1980’s, when he went down to the  48 inch thick coal face of Emley Moor colliery and there was no way I was going to be wriggling around 300 feet underground. Far to claustrophobic for my liking.

So we  headed south into Wales and rolled up at Big Pitt,

Big Pit National Coal Museum (Welsh: Pwll Mawr Amgueddfa Lofaol Cymru) is an industrial heritage museum in Blaenavon, Torfaen, South Wales. A working coal mine from 1880 to 1980, it was opened to the public in 1983 under the auspices of the National Museum of Wales. The site is dedicated to operational preservation of the Welsh heritage of coal mining, which took place during the Industrial revolution.

big pitt

Mr UHDD went to check the lie of the land and came back to tell me that I wouldn’t have to crawl around I could stand up throughout our tour, that admission was free (I had been feeding the dogs) and that we were going down the pit now, as they were expecting 70 school children to arrive in twenty minutes time. So cajoled by added headroom and propelled by the thought of not wanting to be caught up amongst 70 children in a confined space we were on our way down Big Pit.

No photos allowed I’m afraid, cameras, phones, digital watches are all contrabrand

The mine is covered by HM Inspectorate of Mines regulations, because it is still classed as a working pit.[4] Visitors wear a plastic hard hat, safety lamp, and a battery on a waist belt which weighs 5 kilograms (11 lb). Visitors must also carry on their belt a rebreather, which in case of emergency will filter foul air for approximately one hour, giving a chance for survival and escape.[40]

The tour guides are men who used to work at the coal face, or either Big Pit or another colliery, so you got a real flavour of what it was like ‘in their day’ and plenty of history too. Who can start to imagine what it was like for children,  working underground.  There was enough to  see and hear about keep my attention from wandering to the fact, I was in a coal mine, most of the time.  I was surprised about the amount of woodworm in the pit props and timbers though! They can’t treat the timber with chemicals, they just have to keep on replacing it.

They had some beautiful shiny miners lamps, I’ve one at home, it looks a little neglected to compared to Big Pit’s lamps. No canaries down the mine but they did have some in the lamp room (I hadn’t been reunited with my camera at this point!)

Big pit canary

Plenty to see around the mine

big pitt bogies_

Many of the original buildings are accessible,  from the explosives store,

big pitt book

to the medical room,

Medical room Big Pitt

And displays of equipment and ephemera.

Big pit nurse poster

The locker room, what a lot of lockers! I’d never thought about the fact a miner would have two lockers, one for his coal soiled clothes and one for his clean clothes.

lockers

I can imagine both would have been popular.

smoking and spitting_

The arrival of ‘pit head baths’ must have transformed the daily routine, for the miners and the women at home…  I love these towels, their style is on the edge of my childhood memory.

showers big pitt

In the showers they also had a recording of  singing, I thought it was Tom Jones, but then a lot of Welsh miners would have sounded like Tom Jones…

 

 

 


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Away with the fairies

Onwards into south Wales, Joe is living and working in Cardiff , on his placement year, part of his university course. We brought a van load of ‘essentials’ and helped settle him into his new abode.  We took the opportunity to head on to our favourite spot on the Gower peninsular, Nicholaston camp site, as well as  the joys of underfloor heating in the shower block, it has easy access down on to the beach. The path takes you through ancient woodland, with many autumn delights

Fungi -1.jpg

Once through the woods, the path laces through the dunes,

Oxwich Bay.jpg

that have abundant flowers

Seaholly.jpg

so much for snails not liking sand and prickly things

snail and seaholly.jpg

I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t brought Spud the dog down to the beach with me, but the plan had been for a medative kind of meander, that was led by the eye, not the tennis ball; walking three Springer Spaniels must be a whole different ball game

Three Springers.jpg

There was much  beauty hiding in plain sight

plain sight.jpg

A reminder of the lunacy of British politics flashed up every now and then.

Brexit wrecks it_.jpg

The tide sorts the shells by size, the waters draining from Oxwich marsh,

sand and river.jpg

sweep them out to sea again.

Oxwich Bay_.jpg


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Where the wind blows

We are still awaiting the return of of our telephone connection, storm Doris seems such a long time ago now.  We’ve all been juggling with our mobile data quota, I have a long to-do list on my desk.  Mr Uphilldowndale has spent a lot of time listening to the  ‘music’ whilst awaiting a conversation with Plusnet. Their service isn’t what it once was.

We left it all behind and went to south Wales to see Joe, and spent a couple of nights on the Gower, we’ve been there before.

Looks like they get proper windy weather, all the time.

Where the wind blows_

We had a lovely walk along the coast path to Rhossili 

Coast path Rhossili

and enjoyed a welcome beer over looking the bay. I thought it might be a bit cool sat outside with Spud the dog, but the wind dropped and the sun broke through warming our backs. It was delightful.

beer_


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Time and Tide Part II (and a little bit)

Yesterday Gerry asked what the view was like looking inland, from the site of the wreck of the Helevita, ‘would it be this isolated or would it show a cheerful holiday destination?’

I don’t think much can have changed since the night of the wreck, although there might be more bracken (which is what is being burnt off, left of shot)

Rhosilli Bay 2

The house, the Old Rectory, is  owned by The National Trust and is available for holiday lets.

Rhosilli Bay_


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Pipe Dream

We went to Wales last weekend, after Mr Uphilldowndale had gallantly dug a route out of the rather localised dump of snow that arrived with us on Friday.

He wanted to take part in the Pipe Dream fell race at Dalgarrog .  Here are the pipes, running up there looks more like a nightmare than a dream to me, but fellrunners think differently than the rest, we know that .  The pipes are part of a hydro electricity scheme, they were originaly built to supply an aluminium plant*

Pipe Dream 2

 

We took the van and parked up at The Mynydd Climbing Club hut at the head of the Crafnant valley, and enjoyed a very pleasant evening in the company of some of the Pennine Fell Runners.

Blaen y nant_

The next day, Mr Uphilldowndale went out on his bike, I had a nice mooch around with my camera, the club ‘hut’ is the white building on the left.

MTB

 

 Crafnant valley

I found a friendly sheep

Crafnant

I think if you came back a little later in the spring, you’ll find the slopes covered with blue bells.

Bluebell bulbs_

As ever in Wales, gorgeous lichens and moss

moss and lichen wales_

I found some fungi, well I think that’s what they are, I’ve asked a man who knows, I’ll report back.

 

Fungi 3Fungi 1

* The site of the aluminium plant is now home to Surf Snowdonia, the photo is as dull as dishwater

Surf Snowdonia_

The video is far more exciting (sorry Gerry, you’ll need to go to the library).


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Turning water into snow

We zipped over to Bangor in Wales to visit Tom yesterday. Spud  the dog came too, of course. 

Tom is the epitome of the hungry student, so we took him for a suitably large fry-up at Pete’s Eats in Llanberis, before  a stroll by the lake it was a damper day than the weather forecast would have us believe.

Tom told us the autumn colours have been very vibrant, and even after a spell of stormy weather, there are leaves still to be found, there is a bit of of a chocolate lime vibe going on here.  .

Wet wales_

Of course you can’t get such lush moss without a water laden climate

Wet wales 2

Or reflections without pools

Wet wales 3

So we don’t mind the rain too much, that said it was less fun on the M56 on the way home during the rush hour.

Today the temperature has dropped like a stone, it has been so wet and gloomy the chickens retreated to their run by about two thirty.  Tonight we expect the first snowflakes of the season. Watch this space.


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Sun Store

I wish I could keep a box of sunshine on my desk. So that on grey, driech days like today, I could lift the lid and let it spill out. 

It seems churlish to complain really, as this time last week, I was in south Wales and we had the most glorious weather; whilst ‘up north’ was shrouded in mist and fog.

This is Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands

 

As we strolled down the path, I think I was expecting a little bay,  but the size and beauty  of this beach catches your breath. If you’d ask me what my favourite UK beach was, I’d probably have said, Laig on the Isle of Eigg, I’m now ranking them joint first. 

Spud the dog loved it too.

Spud Marloes Sand_

I pondered on the powers of nature, looking at the mighty upheavals of rock and near vertical bedding planes,

bedding planes Marloes Sand_

I didn’t discover until later that it is a great place for a spot of fossil hunting