Uphilldowndale

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


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Will there be lupins?

That is the question I asked Tom when we’d booked the flights to New Zealand,  all  the websites and brochures I’d looked at showed photogenic images of luscious lupins, framing ice blue water and snow topped mountains. ‘ Yes, they are every where Mum’ he replied. Which is a bit of an issue, but we’ll come to that later, first, lupins. Enjoy.

Lupin 4 NZ

These images were taken at Lake Tekapo,  on South Island, the water  really is that blue, no filters here. In the distance Mount Cook and Mount Cook National Park. They were taken in November, so early summer for New Zealand

You can imagine how excited I was by this vista, Tom and Mr Uphilldowndale couldn’t stop sneezing though, but they tolerated the pollen long enough for me to play amongst the lupins and bag my very own lupin shots.

NZ Lupin close up

So how did they get here? The plant is native to  North America.

The story goes that,

As a schoolboy in 1949, Scott helped his mother, Connie Scott, of Godley Peaks Station, near Tekapo, scatter lupin seeds along the roadside. She bought about £100 worth from the local stock and station agent, hiding the bill from her husband for many months, hoping simply to make the world more beautiful.

1949, £100 of seed? That would have been an awful lot of money!

Maybe there is some artistic licence in that story?

NZ Lupin pink and blue_

Some see them as an invasive species.

The Russell lupin, Lupinus polyphyllus, hailing from North America, and used in a hybridisation program that subsequently gave it increased vigour, is such a mild-mannered and quintessential cottage garden plant here in the UK and a complete thug in New Zealand. Colonising streambanks, just like in the picture, they are taking over a habitat so important for New Zealand’s unique wildlife. Riverbed birds such as wrybill, black stilt and banded dotterel are being pushed out of their natural home by a garden plant introduced to New Zealand.

NZ Lupin_

and others see them as a valuable fodder for sheep

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZMCo) is drafting a new protocol to promote lupins as a high-country fodder crop, and seeking the support of Environment Canterbury, as well as conservation groups and farmers. It’s a bid to stay on the right side of environmentalists and ecologists who see lupins as an environmental time bomb.

 

NZ Lupin shore line_

I’ve tried growing them at home, I’ve never managed to get them established, they seem to be a slug magnet. The trip has inspired me to try again though, I’m confident they won’t be colonising the Todbrook reservoir though.

 

 


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Tasty blue sky

It’s a much welcome bright day here in Derbyshire,  one in which I shall try and  in gather all the lumens I can.  You never know how long it might be before the next sunny day.

Here are some some sunny blue sky photos from our New Zealand trip (November 2019), with complementary flash of orange for added zing.

A walk by the Clutha river, at Albert Town, nr Wanaka.  Look, lupins, Tom had promised me there would be lupins ( a photogenic but invasive bloom, but more of that later).

NZ Albert Town Cultha river canoe.jpg

Aren’t these poppies delicious

NZ Albert Town Cultha river poppies

There was a cloud in the blue sky,  but what a handsome  cloud. I think it is a Lenticularis cloud,  but you’d probably have to ask The Cloud Appreciation Society for a definitive answer.

Albert Town Lenticular_

And if this wasn’t tasty enough we followed up with lunch at Pembroke Patisserie,  I don’t know which  herb or spice they season their spinach and feta rolls with, but it make them sing.  So much so we had to go back again another day.

Tom tells me  how grim the weather has been over Wanaka, with the smoke clouds from Australia. It’s hard to imagine the scale of the  Australian bush fires, but to put a little perspective on it,  Sydney to New Zealand is a three hour flight (NZ is not quite ‘next door’ to Australia as we Poms  are sometimes guilty of thinking).  You are in our thoughts Australia.

 


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Ironbridge

More of our travels,  this time Ironbridge in Shropshire, somewhere that has been on our ‘one day we’ll go to…’ list for a long long time. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site 

If Soho House and the Lunar Society was where the formative minds of the industrial revolution came together, this is where the base materials and skills became more than the sum of their parts

Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, and was greatly celebrated after construction owing to its use of the new material.

Iron Bridge

We didn’t realise the bridge had been swathed in scaffold and plastic for some considerable time,  whilst it had been renovated, it had been recently unwrapped, we overheard some of the locals saying they didn’t like its ‘new’ colour (which is actually the historically correct, original colour)  I like the colour because it reminded me of my dad, he used to paint anything that didn’t move with ‘red oxide paint’ (OK, so occasionally  he made an exception and got out a pot of ‘battleship grey’, but that was the full colour spectrum of his paint stock.)

Iron Bridge red

The Ironbridge Gorge provided the raw materials that revolutionised industrial processes and offers a powerful insight into the origins of the Industrial Revolution and also contains extensive evidence and remains of that period when the area was the focus of international attention from artists, engineers, and writers. The property contains substantial remains of mines, pit mounds, spoil heaps, foundries, factories, workshops, warehouses, iron masters’ and workers’ housing, public buildings, infrastructure, and transport systems, together with the traditional landscape and forests of the Severn Gorge. In addition, there also remain extensive collections of artifacts and archives relating to the individuals, processes and products that made the area so important.

Iron Bridge tolls

Ironbridge has ten museums, we managed three in a day, but we have a season ticket to return at our leisure.

Iron Bridge buildings_

If you are visiting Ironbridge, we feel we should give a shout out to the hospitality of The White Hart

White Hart Ironbridge.jpg

 

 


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Let there be light, and transparency

It might have been cold the day we visited Haddon Hall, but at least it was bright. We’ve had some very wet, slag grey days this last week, I doubt we’d have managed to see some of the historic detail had we been there on those days.

The windows at Haddon are beautiful.

Haddon leaded light

We debated the windows, Mr Uphilldowndale said the undulating waves of glass was a feature designed to add strength, I said it was to make it look sparkly.

Haddon leaded light 3

During the 19th and early 20th century a great number of important medieval houses were restored and had their windows returned to an earlier style of glazing. The glazing of the western range of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, is particularly effective as each pane is set at a different angle to those adjacent, creating jewel-like facets when seen from the exterior. 

Look at the graffiti,  you’d need to be posh to leave your mark, back in the day, not every one had a precious stone ring, with which to make a statement. Haddon leaded light writing_

this window tells you what a posh gaff it is.

Haddon leaded lights  panel.jpg

A very pretty addition to the Christmas decorations was the Wishing Tree, set by the window and bathed in sunlight, it was beautiful in its simplicity

Haddon wishing tree

You could add your own wishes if you  wanted too. I guess we all have many things to wish for in 2019,  I for one wish for a little more light and transparency from our world leaders and politicians, is it too much to ask?

Haddon wishing tree 2