Christmas week …

The weather has been bleak. Our James, Louise and Little Evie arrived Monday and within 12 hours we had all gone down with a stomach bug – on the plus side, they got to stay another day. James is the our youngest boy of three and the the first produce a grandchild. For various reasons, it seems unlikely that the others will follow suit. So, on this branch of the family tree, it seems likely the Down name will die out. My dad would have been disappointed – no longer a name to go down in history.

It is a surname people struggle with – when speaking it, particularly on the phone, I have a habit of saying “Down, D, O, W, N” – it’s short enough and helps reduce the number of misheard interpretations – they are many. Even people we have known for years will add an ‘e’ or an ‘s’ or both – Downe, Downs, Downes are the common variations. Oddly, the Good Wife, who inherited the name, gets more irritated by this than me.

Enough rambling – I trust everyone is having and will continue to have a great Christmas. Like I said, the weather has been bleak and this is reflected in the external images from the past seven days:

Sunday 19th December – The fog on the Tyne moved up the side of the valley.

Monday 20th December – Someone is looking sheepish

Tuesday 21st December – Little Evie and her two front teeth venture north

Wednesday 22nd December – More thoughtful than sheepish

Thursday 23rd December – More or less recovered from the stomach bug

Friday 24th December – the CCM Spitfire Blackout – another recent addition to the garage.

Saturday 25th December – A Christmas day walk to Beaufront Hill Head.

Winter-misted Hills

Beyond our neighbours’ frosted washing lines,
Their silvered slates and chimney-pots,
Our borderland begins …
Make what you can of it, for no one knows
What story’s told by winter-misted hills.

Douglas Dunn – Northlight 1988

Fawcett Hill

Looking west from Fawcett Hill

Towards Beaufront Woodhead from Fawcett Hill

No way through to Beaufront Hill Head

When I was small …

and Christmas trees were tall … one of the odd things we learned at primary school was the purpose of bench marks.  The school was split between two locations with only one canteen so, every lunch time, we were marched in pairs down to the lower school; a hungry chattering snake.  Carved into a wall near the end of the route was a bench mark – I have never been good with remembering the abstract but because there was a tangible example nearby, the lesson stuck.

With the advent of more sophisticated mapping techniques these old marks have fallen into disuse.  This explanation is from the Ordnance Survey website:

Ordnance Survey Bench marks (BMs) are survey marks made by Ordnance Survey to record height above Ordnance Datum. If the exact height of one BM is known then the exact height of the next can be found by measuring the difference in heights, through a process of spirit levelling.

Most commonly, the BMs are found on buildings or other semi-permanent features. Although the main network is no longer being updated, the record is still in existence and the markers will remain until they are eventually destroyed by redevelopment or erosion.

Bench marks are the visible manifestation of Ordnance Datum Newlyn (ODN), which is the national height system for mainland Great Britain and forms the reference frame for heights above mean sea level. ODN is realised on the ground by a network of approximately 190 fundamental bench marks (FBMs). From these FBMs tens of thousands of lower-order BMs were established. The network has had little maintenance for 30 years, and in some areas (mining areas for example), subsidence has affected the levelling values. In these regions the BMs cannot be relied upon to accurately define ODN.

When outdoors for a walk along the local lanes yesterday I came across this example on a local farm gate:

Benchmark ...

Following some extensive online time-wasting, I found there was a Bench Mark Database – a trainspotter’s delight! Even more exciting, this bench mark was not registered but, it is nowBeaufront, Gatepost 3 – not exactly my own star but an acceptable, humble alternative 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

The same place, the same time; one shot, two ways.  The view is south from Beaufront Hill Head, across the Tyne Valley towards Corbridge, Slaley and beyond.  This is the highest farm on the Beaufront Castle estate: Beaufront Hill Head is at 214 metres above sea level whereas our home at Beaufront Woodhead is at 167 metres.  The views south from both locations are breathtaking in either landscape or portrait – particularly if you climb to Beaufront Hill Head from Sandhoe – the majority of the 217 feet ascent is completed in just a few hundred yards:

One shotTwo ways

(click on the images to enlarge – particularly the second)