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

The local Vernacular


If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you " pretty maid," and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been !


Quintessentially English country cottages

thatched cottage-2

For Dorset at any rate, we don’t tend to do thatch ‘up north’  we have neither the reed beds nor the climate for such roofing material, traditionally we have ‘stone slates’

Post box cottage-2

I must point out for overseas readers, that most villages have just a handful of thatch cottages and that they command a premium price,  most modern homes lack such character (especially the roaming estates of little bungalows that seem to skirt Weymouth, horrid. Tom and I concluded, having taken a route through one that there probably wasn’t anyone alive in the place, it was dead to the world, eerie, it certainly didn’t inspire a photo.

primrose cottage1-2

Some things are traditional through out the country though, the pleasure of a leisurely pub lunch


At the Smugglers Inn, Osmington Mills, marred a little by the chefs inability to cook Mr Uhdd’s potatoes wedges to a  turn, not once but twice. The beer was good though.

Smugglers inn-2

The pub has had a variety of names through the years, the ‘Picnic Inn’ being one, The Smugglers inn, is undoubtedly more ‘atmospheric’ but I doubt the average smuggler was likely to turn up at the bar for a tankard of cask conditioned ale, not whilst he was working at any rate.  Painted on the walls throughout  the pub are verses from a poem. One I hadn’t heard before, but Joe had, at school, it’s by Rudyard Kipling,  read it below or your can hear an acoustic version here

A Smuggler’s Song

IF you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day !

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm – don’t you ask no more !

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you " pretty maid," and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been !

Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark –
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by !

‘If You do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood –
A present from the Gentlemen, along ‘o being good !
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by !

Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

14 thoughts on “The local Vernacular

  1. This is a real tonic… we love the SW… and we have been obliterated in snow today so your pics are just what is needed as a pick me up.. Thank you. Love the poem too.

  2. Nice photos, love the badger too, that reminds me I have a bottle of Golden Glory in the cupboard, thanks for the prompt!

  3. I love houses like that. I think there is a little English lady living inside of me 😉

  4. hi mrs uhdd, i love the typical country cottages you have captured so well. it was also good to see you today in the local convenience store! good luck. sara 🙂 xx

  5. Apart from a few reed beds most of the thatch is imported, surprisingy from Turkey. They land it at Sutton Bridge nr Kings Lynn.
    Also a lot of houses retain there base layer of reed thatch and are simply covered in straw.
    You see lots covered lke that.

    One of the demises of thatch would also of been the introduction of lightweight slates from Wales. Not sure when they cracked how to work slate but that certainly helped end the use of thatch.
    Nowadays you need serious money to thatch a large roof.

  6. Brings back fond memories.

  7. Oh, but these are wonderful photos, and I like the poem very much, too. Can you imagine the trouble it takes to keep up a thatched cottage? Of course I suppose a person who can afford to make the purchase to begin with “has people for that.” Very nice to look at, though. And the Badger is appealing, too. Altogether a lovely time you’re having, eh?

  8. I’d love to live somewhere like that!

  9. As always, I love the way your train of thought leads from one topic to another – this time from thatched cottages to Rudyard Kipling, who is one of my favourite writers. I enjoyed reading The Smuggler again, and particularly the descriptive verses which show the indirect evidence that something has been going on – the open stable door, the tired horse, and the torn coat with a warm lining. Details like that are why are like Kipling’s work. Thanks for posting this poem.

  10. During my stay at Thetford, I saw these little cottages everywhere…oh so English I love it. And I had cider for the very first time too.

  11. I do like the look of thatched roofs, something I can’t recall having seen in Scotland, either. I wouldn’t fancy the upkeep, mind.

    I’ll stick with my solid Scots roof, with it’s long-lasting (70 years so far) local slate.

  12. I love the Smuggler poem – I first read it when I was about 8 (probably the right age for the girl it was being “said” to), and was entranced with it from the first – such fantastic imagery, and the rhythm of the words when it is read aloud mirrors the hoofbeats of the horses 😀

    I had some friends who had a thatched cottage – it cost an absolute fortune to keep having it rethatched!

  13. Pingback: A View on Time « Uphilldowndale

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