Uphilldowndale

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


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Tulip Mania

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Tulips under a skylight, at Burghley House

After swooning over barn owls, we moved on to Burghley House,  the plain walls and unadorned surfaces in the image above, were not the norm, opulence is the house style.

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A few fresh flowers make a house a home,  but I would say that.

The tulips seemed especially suitable, I’m sure a passion for tulips must have passed through this house before, a costly game. 

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That could cost you your home however stately.

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Sometimes a little magic flies by

We’ve been away, we’ve been to Rutland Water for a couple of nights in the campervan.  we had a lovely time, I hired an electric bike, such fun! I went wheeeeeee!

I’ve not ridden a bike for many many moons.

After that we went on to the nature reserve, and watched nature in all its Spring busyness.feed me_

From a hide we watched the osprey, they were a little too far way for my camera, but we were much closer to them than we had been before, in addition there was a large TV screen showing live footage taken by cameras looking directly into the nest.

Now that sound like an excellent day, doesn’t it? We settled down for the evening, with a glass of wine and some tasty Long Clawson stilton cheese.

And  then the magic arrived

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A barn owl flew in across the meadow, next to the camping field, quartering, searching for prey,  it swooped past us time after time

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It’s the first time I’ve seen a barn owl in the wild, I’ve had other owl encounters.

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It went on and on, taking prey off to its nest

Barn Owl Rutland

and returning, to our delight.

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The next morning, Mr Uphilldowndale went out on his bike at about 7:15 am, for a proper bike ride, one with pace and miles and without me going wheeeeeee all the time.

After he had gone I contemplated making a second cup of tea, I sat up in bed and peeped around the curtain and there it was again.

Right in my face, this time carrying its breakfast.  I’m such a lucky girl.  Barn Owl Rutland 7

All the photos were taken through the tinted privacy glass of the van, the last image with added condensation…


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The beast from the east ate my garden

Warm weather has arrived, hooray, its been a long time coming, mind you we have a yellow weather warning for rain, so one mustn’t get too excited.

I’ve been taking stock of the damage done by the winter storms, namely the Beast from the East. There were casualties

Mahonia, euphorbia, viburnum all took a hit.

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Some things seem to have been freeze dried.

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As I’m something of a sentimental gardener, I particularly sad to lose a lavender plant from my mum’s garden, and it touch and go if an Edgeworthia Chrysantha, from my father in laws garden will survive (I do have an heir and a spare so to speak, by way of another plant, potted up in a container, that I took into the barn for safe keeping)

But perhaps the thing that made me go ‘ohhhh noooo’  has been the demise of my Dad’s ‘degging can’ . I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t part of my gardening life. It was precious

Anyone know a tinsmith.

leaky watering can_

 

 


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Help

Could I ask, what software my WordPress friends are using to write their posts please?

For many years I was a happy bunny with Windows Live Writer,  with a new computer I found that is no longer available, I tried Open Live Writer, this did not go well. Freezing screens, photos failing to load and crashes taking down carefully crafted words and links have left me a little frustrated.

Heather

Screaming in frustration, from the top of a hill in the North of Derbyshire.


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Generous Hospitality

Continuing our visit to Flanders Fields

The people of  the beautiful town of Ypres, were warm and welcoming.

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The town was completely restored after the Great War, it had to be.

Photo, City of Vancouver Archives

At the centre of the market square is the Cloth Hall,  the clock tower was having a bit of maintenance.

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I thought it a very slender scaffold tower, glad to see it was well tied in to the building. It’s a long way down for a comfort break!

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I’m more used seeing building sites like this secured, I’m sure if you tried this at home, some likely lad, would think it a blast to scamper up after a few pints!  The footings looked quite relaxed too…

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I’ve hardly any photos of the town, my planned day of  mooching around the streets, camera in hand was scuppered by a dramatic drop in temperature that left us scampering between coffee shops and museums  dodging the icy winds, others have done better than me

Such a shame the day before had been a beautiful spring day, Spud the dog who came along for his first overseas trip had been lapping up the sun and watching the world go by from his favourite spot in the van

Ypres spud

Spud had to have a visit to the vets whilst in Ypres, to have a worming tablet, a statutory requirement if he was to allowed back into the UK and to be marked on his pet passport. We found the vets online before we left home,  the appointment was made by email and it was all very straight forward, and for Spud who has seen more than his fair share of vets over the last few months,  he thought it rather swish and he was more than happy to escape with just a tasty tablet. 

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We were a bit perplexed the evening before, when we looked down the street where we thought the vets was located, it was all very traditional and looked residential rather than commercial, but in the daylight when the shutters were up we discovered that to accommodate the need for more modern space in such a carefully protected townscape, the façade of buildings are preserved, meanwhile  the walls within are a totally reworked space across several buildings, here at the vets, a carpark is on the lower floor with a sweeping ramp up to the glass walled offices and consulting rooms on the first floor.

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I wondered what it was like to live in a town with the legacy of remembrance tourism, tricky sometimes maybe?

But the hospitality we received was generous to say the least, here is a chicken pie, that we ordered ‘to share’  between two of us.

chicken pie to share_

It goes without saying that Belgium beer is good, and the  chocolate is divine, the scent of which wafts along the main square,

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judging by the state of this  last photo, I  obviously took it after the beer,


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Nothing is just black or white

Wisely our guide Patrick, took us to look at different perspective of the Great War in the Ypres area, we visited Langemark cemetery one of only four  German cemeteries in Flanders area. I’m glad he did. 

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Below is the main entrance, the style is very different to the Commonwealth War Graves sites, it has a completely different atmosphere, but then how we remember our dead, varies from one end of the country to the other, let alone another country and a very different set of circumstances.  The white stone of the British and Commonwealth cemeteries is an obvious difference to the dark stone of the German. 

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Although to my mind British and Commonwealth War Graves, and this German cemetery have a common theme, its a sense of enclosure,  that goes a little way to bring  the unimaginable enormity of this carnage (over 44,000 burials here) into, a place, however symbolic, that provides a sense, that is somehow, protective and embracing.

The  tablet shaped stones bear the names of many, we counted seventeen on one.


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Inside one of the two chambers at the entrance to the cemetery engraved in oak are the names of the men who are known to be buried here, but their grave is not identifiable, each day the rise and fall of the sun arcs  light across them.

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The cemetery is planted, with oaks, a  German symbol of strength ( remember there are no trees here that pre date the Great War, they were all destroyed by shelling and gun fire, these oaks are 80 years old)

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There is a wreath made of bronze oak leaves, mother nature slipped her own oak leaves in amongst the castings

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A visitor had left a poppy,

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the  German flower of remembrance is a corn flower,  Patrick told us more British and Commonwealth visitors come here than German. Whilst  we were there, there were several British school parties, I’m so pleased about this, its so important, and government funding is available for schools to visit.

There is a striking bronze sculpture of grieving soldiers

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They look out over an area of grass, an area not as big as a tennis court, this is the communal grave for 25,000 soldiers, yes twenty five thousand,

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the names of only half of them are known.  This small patch of grass, contains the equivalent of the population of our nearest market town. I stood and thought about this for sometime,

   German wreath 

Patrick pointed out a gateway too us

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And  then showed us a photo of Hitler, walking through the gate in June 1940. Chilling, how, why?

  Langemarck 10 Hitler


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N is for nurse

For me part of trying to understand the Great War is about trying to understand the social norms of the time. 

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And what was ‘the norm’ seems  strange and sometimes abhorrent now.  Attitudes to gender, race, class,  the fate of those that were shot at dawn, for cowardice, for what now would have been recognised as shell shock.

Both Mr Uphilldowndale and I have family that were either medical orderlies or medics,  my great uncle is on the far left of this photo, I’m assuming he would have served with the Sherwood Foresters regiment, but I’m not sure. (If any passing reader can tell me anything about when and where this photo was taken, please do, as there is not detail written on the back).

WW1 Medical

It was when I saw the bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery  that was used as am advanced dressing station the grim reality of the conditions hit me. Confined and claustrophobic,  the stream of catastrophically wounded soldiers that passed under its gas curtain is an unbearable thought. 

It is the grim reality that adjacent to the advanced dressing stations were the hastily dug graves, that became the last resting place of many of the casualties. I suppose at least these guys had a marked grave.  Small mercies.

Women weren’t allowed this close to the front, they were further back in the evacuation line, which was all things considered very sophisticated, and necessity being the mother of invention the Great War led to many medical advances that we take for granted today. But at such a cost.

Nurse Nellie Spindler was one of only two women to be killed and buried in Belgium during the Great War, she was a Yorkshire lass.

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