Uphilldowndale

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


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Tender Wooden Care

Another post from my jolly into Norfolk with my friend Mrs Ogg.

We stumbled upon Rescue Wooden Boats,  at Burnham Norton; Mrs Ogg’s eye was caught by their logo, it is by one of her favourite artists James Dodds and we have curious minds so we decided to take a look.

We found a warm and knowledgeable welcome at their museum,housed in old RAF huts. I was particularly impressed by the work they have done to capture the history of the fishing community. You could spend many an hour watching their archive of films (it might take a wee while to get your ear attuned to the accent though!)

After we’d spent some time in the museum we were given a tour of the boat shed where their were several boats undergoing restoration,

Rescue wooden boats_

and many more awaiting tender loving care. Rescue wooden boats 6

But not all was history, there was a stunning looking commission being built, in the traditional style

rescue wooden boats 8

All  smooth timber, sumptuous glossy varnish *

Rescue wooden boats 2 

and  exceptional craftsmanship

rescue wooden boats 10

Glimpses could be seen, that it is was very much a place of industry

rescue wooden boats 12

The largest boat under restoration was the Lucy Lavers, a lifeboat, built in 1939 whose very first mission was to take part in the rescue operation at the Battle of Dunkirk,

rescue wooden boats 14

She and her history are to big to fit in this post,  but you can read more here.

rescue wooden boats 13

I take my hat off to all those who give their time and effort to Recue Wooden Boats. Brilliant work.

 

* The irony being I’d left Mr Uphilldowndale at home varnishing six new wooden doors, three coats each side… He’d have loved to have visited here.


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Where to Start

The problem with letting a blog lie fallow is just where do you start to pick up the thread: it’s not that things haven’t been happening there are dozens of things I’d love to blog about. it’s just that there have been many other calls on my time. That, and I’ve simply fallen out of the habit of posting.

So rather than worry about which adventure to start with, I’ll start with the most recent, a weekend away with my friend Mrs Ogg, we’ve been to Norfolk. Where the sea meets the sky

Wells_

 

Norfolk is a place very close to Mrs Ogg’s heart, and somewhere I’ve hardly visited. Mr’s Ogg had a list of a hundred things she wanted to show me, amongst them were the beach huts at Wells Next The Sea (My blog looks a little like the beach hut on the left, it could do with a coat of paint, like the other two, do you not think?)

 

fallow shed_ 

It would be very hard to pick a favourite

Wells 2


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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, October13th 2013

It goes without saying that Spud the dog has been missing Tom since he went to university. We were a bit worried he’d pile on some weight without Tom around to whack  tennis balls for him, for hours on end; but having the door open all day every day and a continuous stream of guys working in the field, yard  and house has meant he has had more  time outside and exercise than he might otherwise have done*.

 

Here is Spud in the car, watching and waiting for Tom to come down from his room in halls, no dog allowed in halls I’m afraid.

Spud student spotting_

 

He had a splendid time on the beach, swimming in the silvery sea

Spud sea_

 

And playing ball in the dunes, we took the winger dinger and a tennis ball, we still have a few  left from our bargain buy.

Tom and Spud_

 

*We are wondering just how many of the windfall apples Spud has managed to drop in the kilometre of trench that was dug  in the field, for the pipes to feed the ground source heat pump, we may have an orchard rather than a meadow next year. 


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Walk and Talk

It’s been quite a break since I last posted. It’s been pretty tricky keeping up with things whilst the ground source heat pump work has been on going. The upheaval has been nothing that we didn’t expect and we knew that the 300 hundred year old dust that was likely to be liberated by  digging, drilling and hammering has a particular way of getting everywhere… that you can’t rip out an existing central heating system and replace it with new pipe work and radiators without any house sinking into disarray.

In many ways I’ve welcomed the distraction after Tom set out for university (and his bedroom has come in very useful) I’ve not had too much time to be melancholy, but I have missed him.

 

He’s studying at Bangor University, it’s not too far away,  a couple of hours drive, we went to see him on Friday. Of course Spud  the dog came too.

Having dropped off a food parcel and a few things he wanted at his halls,  we  all went for a picnic, calling in at Waitrose supermarket at Menai Bridge, To buy a some tasty morsels, its where Kate and Wills used to shop you know

Kate and Will smoothie_

 

Tom then drove us to Newborough Forest, on  the island of Anglesey. We had a lovely afternoon, walking on the beach

Newbrough Forest 4 

and in the forest.

 

Newbrough Forest_

It’s a stunning spot, excellent car parking and facilities.

The beach is peppered with beautiful shells,  soft coloured rocks with batik patterns

 

rock formations Newborough_

and flowers

 

Sea Holly Newborough_

 

Spud the dog will be along tomorrow with his side of the story.


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I’ve Never Seen

A seahorse, I used to think they only lived in  warm, tropical seas, but apparently they live here, amongst the seagrass  beds in Salcombe harbour (when the tide is in, obviously, when the seagrass would be all floaty and a nice place to hang out if you were a seahorse.)

Seagrass beds 3

The other thing I couldn’t manage to capture on camera, were water spurts, from razor fish, shooting up in front of me, from the sand, some twelve inches or so high. They  hide in the sand at low tide, all that was to be seen was the hole in the sand. Not very exciting is it…

Seagrass beds_

I tried to find a video of such a thing, but I couldn’t see that either. I did manage to find a little more about them though.

However some folk have for more success at capturing natures more elusive moments. Watch and enjoy.

 

Oh and here is another animal that has been elusive, Spud the dog, enjoying the sea, wearing his smart harness, purchased to replace the one trashed in the sledging foray.  It’s an all together beefier little number than the previous one; Spud thinks it makes him look like a proper working dog, even on holiday

Sea Spud


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Have Crab Will Travel

Mr Uphilldowndale and I found ourselves down at the fish quay in Salcombe one morning. It was a bit of an eye opener.

Salcombe crab live export 2

 

There aren’t the vast numbers of fishing boats I imagine there were in years gone by. But none the less there  was frenetic industry.

One boat was tied up at the quay, The Emma Jane, her crew of six were busy unloading some  their catch of crab in to floating ‘fish boxes’ and getting ready to sail.

 

Unloading Crabs

She goes out for up to six days at a time, and her catch of crab and lobsters are kept alive and in good condition in vivier tanks on board (more about that in a moment).

 

In addition a larger floating fish box was being unloaded of its live cargo.

Some crabs seemed not best pleased and were making a break for freedom.

 

I'm out of here!

 

We were a little stunned at the quantity of crabs ( this isn’t just one layer of crabs, there are  many many more below). The box had been hauled up the slipway (or maybe the tide had fallen as they worked, who am I to know about such things, I live about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK. I just imagine it’s best to work with the tide not against it).

 

Salcombe crab Live export-2

 

We were also surprised to see that the crabs, once out of the fish box and weighed were put into a articulated lorry, with vivier tanks  of well oxygenated sea water (vivier means ‘fish tank’) 

 

Salcombe crab live export

to keep them alive and in tip top condition for their onward journey to Portugal, yes Portugal, mind they could have also have gone to France Spain, Hong Kong and mainland China. You can see the size of the floating fish box in the shot above.

 

Salcombe crabs are obviously a very valuable catch, they are also very labour intensive one.  We were told by harbour staff they are caught in crab pots, the muscle in their main claw is cut to stop them attacking each other in the fish box. The smaller fishing boats return each day with their catch and add them to the fish box.

 

Salcombe crab Live export3

 

The aim is to keep them in the fish box the minimum amount of time possible as they are not feeding whilst in the box.

 

Unloading Crabs into floating box

 

And if you are wondering what happens to all those crab shells, in a moment of serendipity, I stumbled across the answer today, when looking for felting wool, who would have thought it; apparently you can make fibre from the chitosan in the shells. not to mention anti-fungal treatments for seeds and in medical dressings to reduce bleeding.  My, blogging is so educational.


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Summers Past

And the making of memories.

Forgiving me for returning to the beach and family holidays. But a couple of   posts I’ve read this week have catapulted me back to Devon.  First there was Nancy’s post reflecting on just how many summers her family had enjoyed their favourite beach  just like the Uphilldowndale family’s love of a certain Devon beach,

Summers Past -1

then there was Sarah’s post that made me smile and recall our coastal meeting with a grasshopper.  So I nipped back to the post I’d written at the time, back in 2009, about our encounter with the artist David Measures, about his glorious art and his generosity with both his time and knowledge: sadly, when I followed the links, I discovered that David died last year.  Looking at the website of Southwell Artists I saw that Christine Measures, David’s wife, is also an artist.

When I met David he told me he was working on a book that would capture, not just the markings of a butterfly, for identification but how it moved, its mannerisms, what a bird watcher might call it’s jizz.  The slide show of Christine’s art captures both David and Devon summer holidays perfectly. Beautiful.

 

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