Uphilldowndale

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


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The Forgotten Army

Remembering VJ Day

When you go home don’t worry about what to tell your loved ones and friends about service in Asia. No one will know where you were, or where it is if you do. You are, and will remain “The Forgotten Army.” ― attributed to General Slim.

My Mum often told me how hard it was for her, when everyone was celebrating VE Day, not because she wasn’t of course delighted, but because her sweetheart, my Dad was serving in Burma, with the Royal Engineers, and for him the war was not over. So remembering VJ Day is a matter of importance for me.

He’s on the right in the foreground of this photo.

Burma Fourteenth Army Royal  Engineers 3

 

This is the letter she sent to Dad, on hearing the news he was coming home, in November 1945, Marian was his older sister.

VJ letter home

The letter arrived too late for Dad, he was on a ship home by the time it arrived. It was sent safely back to blighty,  to his sisters address. I think Mum would be cross with me for posting her letter on the World Wide Web, but then  again she wouldn’t want anyone to forget either.

Dad used to tell just a few war stories, the same ones often!  But  I’m pretty sure they were what he considered palatable,  we never got to hear the full story, he came close once, to telling my brother, but stopped when he became tearful, and he had nightmare throughout the rest of his life.

Fourteenth Army

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My Dad died eighteen years ago, when Joe was just a few weeks old and Tom was two years old, so sadly they have no memory of him. Joe got his A Level exam results on Thursday, and of course it was one of those moments that you want to phone mum and dad and tell them the news:  looking at these photos, maybe it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Joe has chosen to do a degree in civil engineering…  As they say around here ‘what’s in the tree comes out in the branches’.


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Working with Nature

We’ve been visiting this part of Devon for many years, having our summer holidays here for the last 14 years; with each passing year we’ve noted the village of East Portlemouth  struggled to keep its community vibrant (no criticism intended, we know  a committed team work hard at many events) but the fact is there are less villagers and more holiday homes,  as an older generation passes. Indeed Mr Uphilldowndales aunt N was one of that community

So it was very exciting to see (and hear)  a new vibrancy to the village that has been brought my new tenants of the farm that wraps itself around the village, the aptly named Village Farm. The farm has lain unworked for a number of years and now its not so much being worked, as nourished, regenerative farming ;  delivered with an infectious enthusiasm and acres of passion.  I could try and describe their work, but I couldn’t do it as eloquently or a knowledgably,  So I’ll send you to the website of Village Farm,  do watch the video.

They use a method of grazing called ‘mob grazing’ a large number of animals, sheep in this case, in a small area of land for a short period of time, you’ll have to believe me if I tell you there are 800 in here somewhere…  happily and noisily munching away.

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Here they are coming down the village, with resident neighbours willingly mucking in with traffic and sheep herding (no dogs were used)

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They can move at quite a pace

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A view from the other side of the estuary gives an idea of what’s involved, this field, which will house the Field of Light, later in the year was grazed over three days

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Then it was time to move on to pastures new, with the sheep back off up the village again.

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The photographs on Village Farm’s facebook page are gorgeous, the sort of work that oozes from knowing your subject, field skills and, as mentioned,  acres of passion .

(We can’t wait to see the pigs next year).


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Welcome Home Ocean Valour

Salcombe gave a warm welcome home yesterday,  to two young me, Tom Rainey and Lawrence Walters, who had been at sea since May, rowing across the North Atlantic, from New York to Salcombe. It’s a long way in a small boat, that’s them in the centre of the shot

Ocean Valour 5

There were about 200 boats out on the water to escort them into harbour, Mr uphilldowndale was amongst them.. He is easily identifiable in the photos as the only small sailing dingy in the flotilla,

He assure me he wasn’t as close to the lifeboat as he appears to be

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Mrs Ogg and I joined the  watching crowds on dry land, and whilst we kept our feet dry, our eyes were not;  it was very moving.  Tom and Lawrence, set out on this epic adventure, in memory of Tom’s Dad, Luke, who died of a brain tumour and to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. They broke two world records en route, for the youngest pair to row the north Atlantic and for the distance rowed in twenty four hours

Ocean Valour 7

I can’t start to imagine how good a nights sleep might be after such a voyage, but I’ll bet they slept well, and that their families, especially, Tom’s mum, slept just as soundly, knowing they were home safe.

The expression on Tom’s mums face, (in the white jacket) say’s it all.

Ocean Valour Tom's Mum_

Donations can be made to The Brain Tumour Charity at Tom and Lawrence’s Just Giving page.

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the press with the Royal Marines

Ocean Valour Press boat_

A seaside assortment….

Ocean Valour 11

 

Ocean Valour 13

Ocean Valour 12

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On the tide

An elegant arrival in the harbour yesterday afternoon.

Tall ship 3

A ship with presence Mrs Ogg and I decided, galleon like we thought (you can tell we are the none ‘boaties ‘ of our party). Which in turn brought to mind to our minds  the Joyce Grenfull’s sketch

 

Tall ship 2

It is the Stavros S Niarchos, part of the Tall Ships Youth Trust, signing up on ships like this can be life changing events.

In has a draft of over 15 feet, so there is not  a lot of space to spare in the harbour. She was deftly manoeuvred into place by the crew and two harbour launches

Tall ship 4

This afternoon Mr Uphilldowndale and I walked around the coast path, just before high tide she glided out, past Bolt Head, back out to sea. 

Tall ship 5


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Sea and Sand

We’re back again, in south Devon, for the 14th consecutive summer. Its just as beautiful as ever

East Portlemouth ferry

Mr Uphilldowndale snapped these fish on his way to get the morning paper.

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As ever we have joined with a large extended group of family and friends, our children are growing up now, they come and go, but they all want to get here if they can. Which is just lovely.

silver light_


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Out early, and down the dale

I decided to set out to work early this morning, so I could factor a walk into my day.

I met a bunny before I could get the camera out of the bag

Walk to work bunny_

The majority of the cows were still in the milking parlour

Walk to work cow

There some beautiful bees and colourful thistles

Walk to work bees

It was all rather glorious

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The walls meandered as much as I did

Walk to work walls

a view down  the dale, Chee Dale to be precise

Walk to work Chee Dale_

I’m still after that elusive crisp wagtail shot.

Walk to work wagtail


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Precipitation

The Met Office said the precipitation  probability was around 10% this morning, for our part of the world. The 10% found us, it poured down, at least it refilled the water butt.

wet grass

It took a wee while for everything to dry off.

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But it’s been a lovely afternoon, I spent most of it in the garden, I’ve always enjoyed that.

In the garden

Goodness knows how my parents found time to raise flower beds like this

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Not only was there livestock to look after, he worked full time in construction, It must have broken their hearts when we had to leave the farm.

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