Uphilldowndale

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


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The Life and Death of a Flower

A potpourri of posts, about our adventures and experiences of the last few months whilst I’ve  been a lax blogger. 

November. A visit to London, to see family and a visit to Kew Botanical Gardens, always plenty to see and wonder at

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What ever time of year we visit

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however I wanted to make a beeline* to Rebecca Louise Law’s exhibition, Life in Death, its an installation, in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, right next to the fabulous paintings by Marianne North

It is created from thousand upon thousands of dried flowers, suspended on copper wire

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We think of dried flowers as delicate and ephemeral, and the effect is all of that, but it is something more besides, there is something enduring too.  I particularly loved the shadows of the flowers

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It is immersive, a path winds through the garlands, people come  in and out of view, now you see them now you don’t.  I think I can see where the existential title comes from.

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Given that flowers were, a long time ago, my world of work, I’ve been long aware of the importance many cultures place on flowers, in both life and death, so it was no surprise to read,  where Law’s inspiration came from.

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The exhibition Life in Death showcases her personal collection of plants and flowers, dried and preserved over a six year period. It is her most intricate large-scale artwork to date and examines our relationship with flowers and plants and how they are used, particularly through rituals.

Kew’s Herbarium specimens, including Egyptian garlands made with dried flowers dating back to 700BC, which inspired Rebecca to make this work, are also on display.

The Egyptian garlands made me think of Hawaiian lei (rubbish photo, sorry).

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We then went on to wander in the Autumn sun,

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I picked up a selection of fallen leaves, I had a little art project of my own in mind.

 

Now, if there is one thing that illustrates the the opposing, but complimentary mind-sets of Mr Uphilldowndale and I, it is that I picked up leaves because they were beautiful, he insisted we photograph them with the name of the tree from whence they came. Creative meets Engineer…

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However, it was all to no avail,  as the plan went a little pear shaped, when we left the bag of leaves in the cafe at Kew Gardens;  I hope we didn’t cause a security incident… Sorry.

* Oh no I haven’t written about The Hive yet, I took those photos back in January…

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Extended hospitality…

I mentioned we’d had a lot of visitors to the garden, especially at the birdfeeder;  well look who turned up today!

On the roof of my workshop, a buzzard.

To think it was 2009 when I first saw (and wrote about, on this blog) a buzzard in this part of Derbyshire.

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It is as tough as ever being top  of the food chain, the rooks were not pleased by our guest. There was a spat.

 

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Having dismissed the rooks, the buzzard landed on the wall, and was joined by a second buzzard*.

Other guests included the beautiful thrush

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and a timid robin.

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* I think the time is approaching to upgrade from my  world weary Canon ESO400D camera, any suggestions?


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Fair Game

During the short winter days, the birds arriving at our garden feeder bring us great pleasure.  For the last few years a regular visitor has been a pheasant,  we’d become very fond of him. 

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We called him Fezzie 

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Maybe Fezzie got a little too bold, complacent, let his guard drop? Or maybe he just ate too much of the hen food to be fighting fit?  You can tell where this post is heading can’t you?

Sadly, I’m afraid Fezzie is no more, we found his limp body being dragged towards the cat flap, by Dodger the cat, remember him? The butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, cool little kitten cat?

Now, as we later discovered that Dodger had cornered and killed Fezzie in the chicken run, which is the best part of 30 yards from the house, it means that he dragged Fezzie, quite some distance uphill! But then again he always did have ideas above his station…


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Seasons Greetings

We seem to have skipped along a season since I last published a post.  Which is a shame, its not that there hasn’t been anything to blog about, there has been plenty.

Lets start with an easy win…

A beautiful thrush, feasting on the berries of my pink rowan. 

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He’s quite protective of this crop, I can’t quite work out if he expends more energy chasing off the blackbirds than he gains in berries he could have eaten.  Surely there is enough for everyone?

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Home Sweet Home

Dark nights and cold weather may have arrived, but I’m still traveling through the  Orkney  islands and on the North coast 500 route of Scotland, it’s May and June 2017.

This was once the private home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, the  Castle of Mey. It is now open to the public.

We arrived early, before the gates were open,

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the drive looks like you are arriving at a fairy tale castle, I’m sure in a certain light these trees could look a little menacing, but paved with daisies, they look enchanting.  I whiled away the time chatting to a robin, who posed in the hawthorn blossom

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The Queen Mother fell in love with this place, when she was mourning the death of her husband, it was derelict.  But not now, its rather beautiful,  you could just imagine the Queen Mum, floating around the gardens of a summer morning with the corgis in tow.

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The house is open to the public, but you can’t take photos,  for copyright and security reasons we were told, which I can understand: undoubtedly there is a good dollop of ‘set dressing’ for the benefit of the public, but it is non the less an interesting view of her home.

We dodged the showers,  to tour the gardens, which are gorgeous,

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Look, light and flowers, they seem like a distant memory already.

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I have to show you the rhubarb, magnificent, but then everywhere in the far north of Scotland, from derelict crofts to royal residences seems to, the most handsome rhubarb.

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A feature of many fields in the area, are slabs of stone used as walls, I do like a nice stone wall, these are stood to attention, as one might expect, those of the field were rather less regular.

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The veg patch was on a grand scale.

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And the ‘scarecrows’ had a vernacular style!

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AWOL

It’s been a while since I tended my blog, the main reason has been, that Spud the dog has been in a bit of bother.

It started innocently enough, a game of ball in the field, we know he loves a ball.

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It’s something  we’ve done thousands of times.  This time though, Spud the dog was in big trouble.

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Mr Uphilldowndale, threw the ball and turned back to what he was doing, he heard Spud yowl, and looked up to see him on the ground.  His leg was limp like a ragdoll’s.

We rushed him to the local vets, who instantly knew what had happened. This my friends is Spaniel Elbow, who ever knew of such a thing, in layman’s terms, it’s a weakness where the bone in the elbow fuses, so that if it fails, the  resulting pressure on the bone  causes it to fracture, in one or, worse case scenario two places, a Y fracture, this is what happened to Spud. 

He spent the night in the care of the local vets, the surgery he needed was a specialist procedure, and we were referred to the Pride Park  veterinary centre  in Derby.  He was operated on the next day, its a procedure we were told, that is about ‘as complicated as canine orthopaedic surgery gets’. If he didn’t have surgery, the legs would have been amputated.  Here he is when he got home after three nights at the ‘hospital’

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He’s had six weeks of crate rest, heavy weight pain relief and just short lead trips out to the garden to relieve himself ; tricky for a Springer, but he’s been a model patient*. His follow up x-rays show  the bone has now healed and he can now start to get moving again, to build up some strength in what his vet calls ‘his chicken leg’, he’s lost a lot of muscle tone.  He’s started having a course of hydrotherapy, which loosens him up a treat, he’s supposed to be tired after it, but he just gets giddy, I think it is because it makes him feel more like his old self, he wants to play again. 

Ben Hydro

Reading this post, I can see I’ve sifted out a lot of the emotions we’ve been through. We were all very upset as you can imagine.  Everyone has been so kind** and skilled. There are two things people want to know, was it expensive? Yes it was, and were you insured? No we weren’t.

* Spud scared the living daylights out of us all, when he tried to leap onto the vets examination table, just a few days post surgery! Ironically we’d been shown into an empty consulting room, so as to keep him quiet and still, away from the busy waiting room!

** When Mr Uphilldowndale rang me to ask me to say ‘get home quick’ I was in the middle of a shopping at Waitrose. I abandoned my trolley full of shopping, calling to a member of staff as I fled the store.  A few days later, I returned to try again, I saw the member of staff and apologised for leaving them to sort out my shopping, and explained what had happened.  As I was paying for my shopping, a dog bone came down the conveyor, amongst my shopping, I was confused, I hadn’t put a bone in my shopping? Where had it come from? The supervisor appeared at my side, ‘A bone for your dog, with the compliments of Waitrose, we hope he is better soon…’