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

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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog November 4th 2013

Not sure why I’ve included the date, as this post is a bit late, the photo comes from last month, and as far as Spud is concerned the whole subject matter is way, way to late for him! sorry Spud, we nipped that in the bud.


A van we spotted at the Motorway services, we were curious,

dog bus 3


and a little amused by the obvious fun of the graphic designer had with their brief.

dog bus-2

Some of the text is a little difficult to read, from my phone shots

Dog bus

So from their website


Semen collection & freezing
- Sperm analysis
- Semen storage
- Cytology, culture & progesterone testing
- Artificial insemination with fresh semen
- Transcervical insemination
- Surgical implant
- Export & import of semen
- Specializing in reproduction problems


I notice from their website,  the breeding of greyhounds is an important part of their work, and whilst I’m not trying to link  this company to irresponsible breeding and  ‘disposal’ of dogs that don’t make the grade,not at all. I’d like to say I’m often saddened to see the number of greyhounds rescue charities at country fairs, looking for good homes for greyhounds that simply don’t run fast enough. But then the breeding of  all dogs and dog welfare is a debate that should have been running a lot longer than it has.


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High and Dry

When I walked east along the path from East Prawle, Mrs Ogg walked west, this is what she found.

High and Dry -1

As you can see Mrs Ogg has a sharp wit, and a keen eye for the absurd, she also has a fledgling new blog for her beautiful art, Spud  the dog is there already

I’m hoping she is going to post one of her life drawings, that she made when we attended a couple of life-drawing classes whilst we were away.  Mrs Ogg coaxed and cajoled me into going, there may have been wine involved in the negotiation: you see I’d never tried my hand at life drawing before, and I’ll admit to being a little uneasy about it all, not the nudity* you understand, I can handle that, so long as it isn’t mine!  No I was more concerned about displaying my own embryotic drawing skills in front of the other attendees, that idea made me feel very exposed indeed.

I could have turned on my sandaled heels and fled when we  first arrived, a little late (as Mrs Ogg and I have no concept of time or tide when we are immersed in the delights of Devon) and the matriarchal  class organiser announced as I peered from behind  Mrs Ogg’s shoulder ‘Right ladies, you’re new here aren’t you? Right, we’ll have a few quickies first  and would you like a donkey?’ .

I really enjoyed myself and any worries I may have had about doing a half decent job of drawing  of what I thought might be ‘the most challenging parts’ of the anatomy were nothing but a smudge of charcoal by the time I’d tried to master the nose, hands and feet of the models! I may have to find another class, and Joe and Mr Uphilldowndale could make me a donkey of my very own.

* Mrs Ogg told me later, that even by life-class standards, the male model was something of an exhibitionist, which was reassuring to know, I did think the stretchy exercise he did were a little over the top!.




Armistice Day

Slapton Sands Tiger-1

I’ve posted about this spot before

In the early hours of the 28th of April 1944 eight Landing Ship Tanks (LST’s), full of American servicemen were in Lyme Bay, off the coast of Devon, England. Their purpose to take part in Exercise Tiger, the realistic rehearsals for the D-Day landings in Normandy. The night turned into tragedy as a group of patrolling German e-boats discovered and attacked them. At the end of Exercise Tiger 946 American serviceman had lost their lives.


The Lion’s Share

I didn’t finish sharing my favourite sculpture from the Beyond Limits exhibition, goodness it seems like months ago now, it was pre heat wave and an excess of rain, not to mention Devon, but here is my second place,

Lion 2 Ji Young- Ho  2-1

Lion 2 by Jo Yong-Ho

Made from old tyres, he is a handsome beast, I love the depth in his eyes.

Lion 2 Ji Young- Ho -1

With school children for scale

Lion 2 Ji Young- Ho  3-1

And whilst on the subject of African animals, I bring you a mountain bike hazard my boys don’t typically face when out on a ride, thank goodness.



Spud on Sunday Part XXXVII

Dogs with a passion for apples

Spud the dog continues his apple-fest (yes, on the sofa).

Do dogs like apples -1

There are apples all over the house, every time he goes outside he sneaks one back in with him.

And it seems Spud is not the only dog who is fond of apples (We already  know Joss’ dog has a fancy for them) and on Friday night I caught sight of  gardener Monty Don  on TV along with his dog Nigel (I can’t find a photo of Nigel but I did find Monty)


Nigel has a passion for apples too and I noticed that along with dogs and apples Monty also has a sexy curvy wall in his garden. I’m rather fond of those myself.


Spud on Sunday Part XXXVI

Restricted Access

Spud has had his playground restricted, as there are 90 sheep grazing in his field

Spud and gate-1

It’s not that he’d trouble them, but he would spook them, and 90 sheep stampeding down a steep field with a drystone wall at the bottom is not a good idea, it has the makings of an expensive disaster and a lot of rebuilding of walls. They are only going to be with us for a couple of weeks, lot of sheep  for a short sharp munch of the meadow and then they will be off to pastures new. Spud will just have to wait patiently.


Spud on a Sunday Part XXIV

Spud has had such a busy week, a house full of family who have been more than happy to throw balls, go for walks, throw more balls. He has used up so much energy we’ve had to up his food ration. The weather has been glorious Spud has spent a lot of time cooling off in the pond

Spud swimming -1

And just when he thought it couldn’t get any better in terms of playmates, two beautiful dogs of the Joker variety showed up for a couple of nights stay. Dog heaven 


Backing a Winner

Interrupting our little jolly around Pembrookshire, I bring you breaking news that Mr Uphilldowndales début TV performance has hit the screens.

The new £3.5million campaign from Hovis featuring a TV ad in which farmers race to promote that it only uses 100% wheat has rolled out to beat this year’s Grand National.

He’s to be seen more than once in different roles, he’s easiest to find in this full length version, 90 seconds ( Frustratingly, I can’t get it to load as a video clip)

We’ve told him not to give up the day job, but he’s done that already…

I think regular readers might recognise  the landscape, especially the drystone walls ( note, no drystone wall were injured or harmed  in the making of this film).  This is the shorter youtube version, 30 sec, without my man.


Spud on Sunday XXI


Warning, this post does not contain images of Spud the dog.

Keen readers will know I’ve been away to Wales this weekend, with Mrs Ogg, unfortunately Spud the dog couldn’t come along, which is a shame as  he would have enjoyed the wide open beaches. We thought of him often.

What no Spud--1

Not least when Mrs Ogg and I were walking the coast path when we saw movement in the gorse bushes* and, every now and then, a flash of white, can you see, it’s a bit blurry because it is moving very fast?

Not Spud-1

Who ever and whatever was in there was having a high old time, crashing and thrashing around ‘it’ eventually, surfaced for air, it was a Spud dog.

Not  Spud 2-1

Not a grown up or human minder in sight, just a very happy dog, who had no time for or interest in Mrs Ogg  and I, only in whatever game was hiding in the heath. Presumably  he/she would find his/her own way home, eventually.

Spud will return to pole position next Sunday, I promise.


*For those of you old enough to remember it was like Michael Bentine’s sketch show Potty Time


Give us our daily bread

So it’s my turn (Mr UHDD) to take the reins for a few days while UHDD is away enjoying herself.  A blog post …… a first for me …… scary……in such hallowed company.

In her past life, UHDD did a bit of work for film and TV providing props.  I’d never been exposed to this unreal world but felt I knew a bit about it from what UHDD had told me.  Then a few weeks ago I received an email entitled “Male Runners Wanted for TV Advert”.  Never one to shy away from an opportunity like this, I asked UHDD to take the requisite full length photo of me in farmer’s clothing and sent it off that afternoon.  The phone rang a few minutes later inviting me to an audition – wow!

After the audition and a “recall”, I was offered a part as an extra, not a “featured runner” (I clearly wasn’t experienced enough for that) in the filming of a Hovis (a well known brand of flour/bread) advert entitled Farmer’s Race.  It was to be directed by none other than Dougal Wilson who directed the Never Knowingly Undersold ad for the John Lewis Partnership that UHDD featured in her blog last year.

There are many excellent Hovis ads, but this one from the 1970s is still judged by many to be the best TV ad of all time:

I know they work long hours in film and TV, so it didn’t really come as a surprise to be told that it was a 4:30am “call” last Wednesday at a car park in Macclesfield from where we would be taken to the location, Blaze Farm, famous locally for its children’s parties and home made ice cream.  So it was that a busload of sleepy extras including several other runners I know, arrived on the farm and were immediately herded (appropriately) into a barn where we dressed in our kit and then headed for breakfast.  Film types seem to know how to look after their stomachs as there was plenty of good food available, but we were slightly disappointed to be segregated – “crew” got more choice than “background” (as extras are known, for that’s what we were to be in the shots).

The weather couldn’t have been much better over the three days of filming.  Sunburn was the biggest risk rather than the more usual frostbite or windchill – very welcome, but unexpected in March.

The storyline is something along the lines of Hovis wheat farmers having a deadly serious running race across the countryside and encountering various obstacles on the way to the finish.  Some complete the course, others fall by the wayside.  Of course when they’re filming, things don’t go in the same order as in the finished version.  The sequence for day 1 was something like this:

1)      Large pack of runners squeeze through gate

2)      Finish of race

3)      Start of Race

4)      Runners follow camera across undulating field

5)      Runners hurdle an obstacle made of straw bales

So you finish the race looking clean and fresh, then start the race more dirty and tired!

It doesn’t sound much, but filming started as soon as the sun was up, before 7am and finished after 6pm.  Each scene involved many takes, so by the end of the day everyone was pretty exhausted, particularly the more generously proportioned people who weren’t used to running.

A couple of shots at the start – “runners” lined up:

Below – gun about to be fired for start.  Barry who is holding the gun created an unintentional “comic” moment as he allowed the loaded gun to drop when the director was speaking to him, and everyone else screamed in horror.  He was safer when rehearsing with a stick:

Day two was more tiring for the runners, but good training.

Here is the storyboard:

The scenes included running uphill with sheep in foreground, sheep in middle ground, sheep in background, no sheep.  In the end the sheep got so bored they walked off and couldn’t be bribed back even with the tastiest morsel while the runners got more and more drained!

As for the rest of it, you’ll just have to wait until the ad is broadcast.

It’s astonishing to think that three days on set for over 40 crew and 60+ cast/extras plus all the preparation, editing etc. results in one brief TV commercial albeit one that will probably become a classic.


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