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


Spud on Sunday Part LXIXI

Spud the dog has stepped aside this week to bring you  a special, very personal  post, that features a new canine member of the family, let me explain…

It is two weeks since I last posted*, since then the Uphilldowndale family have been riding a roller coaster of emotions, there has been, and still is, much  shock and sadness at the unexpected death of Mr Uphilldowndales mum: its a loss for which we all grieve.

However there has also been much joy and celebration this weekend (which I’m sure is just what my mum-in law would have wished) for the marriage of her youngest son, Mr Uphilldowndales little brother, my brother –in -law BiL, to his lovely bride. 

The brides dog, Mr B (a Lurcher/Labrador cross) played a pivotal roll in the proceedings, carrying, on cue, the wedding rings up the aisle. Now can you imagine Spud the dog, carrying that one off?. No I thought not.

Mr B did it perfectly. Here is in his wedding attire.

Mr B-1

Spud the dog would have ricocheted off the pews, done a couple of circuits of the font and slobbered all over the bridesmaids before he’d made it anywhere near the chancel, and that’s not to mention  putting muddy paw prints on the vicars vestments.

I don’t often post family photos, but these are exceptional circumstances, ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom, Mr B the dog, family and friends.

Lych gate -1 

I need to remind you this is the UK, in September… So much sun,  blue skies, an even bluer sea and  miles and miles of smiles

Reception 3-1

The bride and groom travelled to the Galapagos Isles last year, they fell in love,  with  each other and the blue footed booby birds;  the are birds are special to them, as you can see from the exquisitely made wedding cake

Reception 5-1

The detail (with edible pebbles!)

Reception 4-1


Through the tears and the smiles,  I bring you the dance of the blue footed booby.



*thank you all for your kind messages after my last post xx


Spud on Sunday Part LXIX

Tom is home from the Alps, where he’s been mountain biking.

Spud the dog and the rest of the menagerie are very glad to have him home, we all are.

Tom is back -1

We’ve had a family bereavement whilst he’s been away.  Its the sort thing that makes you want to gather everyone in, safe and well, to be together. We are sad.

Yes, we are very glad Tom is home. I’m glad I didn’t know just how precipitous the routes they have been riding were.  I’m glad I didn’t know anything about his close encounter with the 200ft drop that left the guy who hauled him back  to safety ashen faced*.  I’m glad I didn’t know about being in the fresh snow and the ice. Yes very glad indeed. I do know that the the pile of dirty laundry he’s brought back with him, is as high as Mont Blanc,  but you don’t need to know how smelly it is.

Dodger and Spud check out Toms kit bag… with the thankfully, unused first aid kit.

Doddger and Spud -1

* this is independent eyewitness testimony, not teenage bravado!


Telling War Stories

Keeping the memory alive. ‘Tell me about your medals?’ I asked the elderly gentleman at the war memorial this morning.


Storyline -1


And tell me he did, but perhaps most telling of all, was the story of his coat


Coat tales -1

‘I always wear this coat when I wear my medals, it belonged to my friend, he served in Burma. I like to wear it, so I remember him.’  Time is passing and  the number of men and women who served in World War II and who are here to tell the tale, is dwindling.

It was at funeral of Mr Uphilldowndale’s aunt N that we heard she had worked during the war at RAF Medmenham, and that her work for the Central Interpretation Unit had been mentioned in dispatches.  We never knew, I’ve mentioned such modesty before

Gerry also has a story of exceptional bravery over on her blog, a story that almost went untold.


97% of Islanders Won’t Be Wrong

The Isle of Eigg Says No to Fish Farm

The Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland, has a special place in the heart of this family. I’ve been there a number of  times, I’ve had the privilege of watching otters, golden eagles, seals and pods of porpoise, going about their business. It is a magical place and the people who live there care about it passionately


If the residents of Eigg say no to the proposal to site a fish farm of the coast of the island, it will be for good reason.


Opposition to a Fish Farm on the Isle of Eigg

Eigg is owned and managed (including the foreshore) by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a community led organisation whose aims include taking all appropriate measures to conserve the natural heritage of the island for the benefit of the community & the wider general public.

To this end Eigg is building a reputation as a green island working towards sustainability. Visitors come to the island to learn from our experience and to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the island and the peace and quiet. Most of the islands electricity is generated by renewable technology and the sound of diesel generators is but a distant memory.

Highland Council has recently received an initial application to site a fish farm off the east coast of Eigg, north of Kildonan. The site identified covers an area extending to 20ha (this equates to 28 football pitches) & would consist of 14 x 30m diameter cages which would be serviced by a 10m x 10m permanently sited barge (powered by diesel generator).

The community has considered this proposal at length. The outcome of the resulting ballot which had an 86% turnout was 97% against the development.

Eigg lies within the Small Isles National Scenic Area. A large fish farm would have a considerable negative impact on the approach to the island and could also impact negatively on the peace and quiet that visitors seek when they come to the island, as well as on the quality of life of nearby residents.

Laig Panorama

Be a good Eigg, and pop along and sign the on line petition (and you can find some more photos of Eigg here, just a few, sadly I’ve not been up to Eigg since I got into the digital camera lark, I’m sure there would be 100’s and 100’s of images if I went now)



Now the Day is Over

Well it didn’t last long, what with it being the shortest day. But it is behind us now things will get better.

On Sunday I watched the sunset, no big deal I suppose, it sank very quickly; I took this series of photos in less than 10 minutes, but it wasn’t the rate of decent that captivated me it was how the sun rolled along the skyline, from left to right.

Sun going down-1

note the trees silhouetted  against the sun in the first shot

Sun going down 2-1

within minutes it was clear of the trees.

Sun going down 5-1


The Colour Purple


I’ve not been well, some flu like virus sent me to bed yesterday, I slept most of the day. I dreamt that I was on a beach, the tide was lapping in, all over the beach their were little giraffes; they were purple and black in colour, they would have been about 18 inches tall, but I never saw one in its entirety, you see they were buried up to their necks in the sand when a wave came they shivered and pulled their necks back into the sand, so that just their eyes, ears and little horns stayed above the tide. I tried to take a photo for you, but I couldn’t get them in focus (no surprise really). Very strange.

As a child if I was ill I’d dream about being chased by bears; little purple and black giraffes shivering in the sand are less scary, I think. But please, don’t feed the last paragraph into a search engine, followed by the word, Freud. I don’t want to know.

Today I’ve felt a bit better but still pretty wiped out, I’ve watched TV footage of the Chilean miners rescue. More tissues required, its a special kind of maudlin that comes with the flu.

It got me thinking of all the mining that has taken place around here over the centuries lead, coal, salt, flourspar (non now alas, mining is an industry that has always swiftly followed the lowest price and highest return). Dangerous dirty work the working conditions of which I suspect are beyond the imagination of our generation.

Two  previous posts with a mining theme came to mind, the eerie Magpie Mine in Derbyshire


and a post about the town of Whitehaven


Thank you to Glo, for sending me this wonderful get well card, inspired by my dream (see it as it is meant to be on Glo’s site Porcelain Rose)


Why we Went to Wales

In part it was for Mr Uhdd to have a look at the boat he will be sailing on during The Three Peaks Yacht Race. She was out of the water for a little TLC, not that she needs much TLC, she is a young and sprightly boat. But boats always need a touch of something, or so I’ve observed, from a distance; I think we’ve established on this blog, I don’t ‘do’ boats, well not very much.

3 Peaks Race Prep-2

I was going to say it is because I am a Derbyshire lass, but then so is Dame Ellen Macarthur and it doesn’t seem to have stopped her embracing the sea. Tom likes to do some sailing,  however Joe is always keener on shore based maintenance.

Boy and a Boat-2

(For the record, Mr Uhdd got more paint on himself than Joe did and the paint cost £70 a tin; the alcohol hand wash stuff out of the first aid kit was good for getting the paint off Mr Uhdd face, he had something of the Braveheart look about him by the time they had finished.)

Joe has been like this since a very young age, here he is in New York, in 2003, alongside  the boat Bristol Clipper, helping some of the crew fix something important.


Joe’s uncle ‘BiL’ was skipper of Bristol Clipper, in the  Clipper around the world yacht race. 02-03, and we all flew out to meet up with the the boat,  when it arrived in New York; it was an adventure I seem to remember, I wish I had a blog of that time to look back on.

Even a land lubber like me can work out it is sails Joe’s working on here.


after that he moved on to quarter master duties, although a fair bit of flour seems to be ending up on the crew.


You just couldn’t keep him out of the thick of it!


He is still the same, once you’ve peeled him  off the XBox. But I digress, and what a pleasant browse I’ve had through the ‘New York photos’ this evening;  a perk of blog post writing. Considering we are so not ‘city people’ we loved New York

Back to real time; Mr Uhdd had a crack at the Three Peaks Yacht Race last year, and is going back for more, he has bought a new bike for the occasion. No doubt you will  be hearing more about the race, but here is a heads up (or should it be hands up) about what the race entails.

Three peaks -2

Note the date; just a few days after my significant birthday.


Run For Home

Happy and naturally dishevelled  geese at Heathylee farm Staffordshire

Run for home

I didn’t realise that in some part of the world (but not Staffordshire I hasten to add) goose down for duvets and pillows is.

They're behind you

 plucked from live birds and the birds are ‘cropped’ every six weeks or so…..

Chin up

Keep your chins up girls, you’re safe here.

below, a pair of Dewlap Toulouse Geese, the dewlap being the wobbly bit under the chin

Two heads


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