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


Spud on Sunday Part LXIXIII

As you can imagine things have been a bit hectic around here of late. It seems, and I’m sure Spud will vouch for this, like an age since he got to have his very own adventure. But he makes the most of it, in that Springer spaniel sort of way, along with a little help from his friends (thanks to Glo  who after last weeks post,  used her creative talents to visualise Spuds  canine dream for us mere humans).


(remember my  fever dream, at the creative hands of Glo?)

Spud likes to muck in with who ever is about and as ‘men and machine’ have been digging for victory in very wet conditions over the last few days, muck is indeed everywhere. Here Spud and Tom check todays progress

Spud tom-1

(Tom is also able to add to his geology homework by studying what our house is built upon (looking at that clay, it is no wonder the bed shakes like a jelly when anyone slams the back door!)

Spud will always seek a hug, muddy paws and all.

Spud tom 1-1

And look, I nearly forgot, Spud took delivery of nine tons of best Derbyshire limestone yesterday. What fun.

limestone -1

would you like to see some more mud?



As I Slept I Dreamed a Dream

Earlier this week our family gathered in Worcester for the funeral of My Mother-in-law (MiL).

She moved to Worcester in the mid 1980’s she loved the city, but most of all she loved her home. The epicentre of her home was her cosy kitchen, with its original cast iron range (which she took great pride in keeping lit all winter) and the steady, contented, tick tock of her clock.

The photo  below is of a stained glass window that caught my eye during the wedding of my brother in law and sister in law, just a few days ago.

A special place -1

I thought the sentiment captured M-i-L’s relationship with both her home and with the city of Worcester. The quote is from the opening line of John Bunyan’s  Pilgrims Progress.

MiL’s faith was very important to her, as was music (it was The Three Choirs Festival that first brought her to Worcester)  and her funeral drew together many people from different churches in the city, there was beautiful  music and hearty, tuneful singing (not from me, I so can’t sing at the best of times, let alone with a lump in my throat!) It was a service that celebrated her life and truly captured her spirit, which is just what we hoped it would be.

Describing MiL to a colleague I said she was ‘feistily independent’:  and feisty was a word that cropped up several times during the funeral service, it’s also a word that could be easily substituted for passionate.

She was passionate about the ordination of women, she was a lay reader and involved with the group Women in Theology. She was passionate about her political beliefs and her wish for peace, she was a  peace demonstrator at Greenham Common back in the 1980’s.

MiL was also passionate about her bike, a keen cyclist all her life she cycled from Worcester to stay with us in north Derbyshire during her 70th year, staying at youth hostels along the way. I remember  she asked when she arrived if she could take a soak in a hot bath. I asked would she perhaps like a glass of sherry to take with her? She giggled and replied ‘I’ve never done that before, it sounds very decadent, but yes I think I will!’ She flatly refused to wear a cycle helmet, her theory being that it was the motorist responsibility not to hit her! (I’m pleased Tom has a very different attitude to cycle helmets!)

MiL had problems with hearing loss for a number of years; an operation to insert a cochlear implant had helped a lot, but many things remained very difficult for her.

Were talking yesterday about such an incident.

To set the scene,  we were all in a yellow taxi  cab in New York city, we’d flown over to catch up with BiL who was racing around the world it was all very exciting. MiL was sat in the front of the cab, next to the driver, the rest of us were piled in the back. The driver is trying to ask MiL where she is from, but because she couldn’t see his face to lip read she couldn’t work out what he is saying.

Frustrated, the cab driver turns to us in the back and asked loudly

‘Doesn’t she speak English?’

To which my mother in law replied tartly.

‘ Actually, I’m deaf in ANY language!’

That told him. She would also have told you, don’t gabble, look at me when you are speaking to me and take your hand away from your mouth. Her hearing loss made social occasions, with lots of chatter and background noise particularly difficult; she had a poster above her desk,  it read

‘The loneliest place in the world is the edge of a conversation’


Spud on Sunday Part LXIXII

Spud the dog has been in high glee today, its a dream come true*

Man and digger has arrived to sort our drains… Oh joy!

digger digger-1

For Spud the dog this means the biggest mole hill to dig in that a dog could wish for.

Spud and the giant mole hills -1

It is going to mean mud everywhere, of that I’m sure.

Spud and the giant mole hills 2-1

Mind you, you may notice sheep in the field at moment, if the pile of top soil distracts Spud from rolling in sheep poo, it’s no bad thing, top soil smell sweeter.

*It’s a dream come true for us too, we’ve been expecting arrival of  man and digger since spring!


Over the Hills and Not So Far Away

Is Mottram, I’ve posted about  this village (or is it a town?) before. You might recall it as quaint or historic form my post.

cottage Mottram-1 

Sadly* this week it has been the scene of an atrocity that has put it on the map for reasons that are beyond  comprehension to any right minded person.  For overseas readers, two young women police officers were lured to a hoax call and murdered, shot and a hand grenade thrown at them. Just over the hills and not so very far away *shakes head in disbelief*. 

*Sadly is not the right word is it? But I dammed if I can think of an adequate one.


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!