Generous Hospitality

Continuing our visit to Flanders Fields


The people of  the beautiful town of Ypres, were warm and welcoming.

Ypres 2

The town was completely restored after the Great War, it had to be.


Photo, City of Vancouver Archives


At the centre of the market square is the Cloth Hall,  the clock tower was having a bit of maintenance.



I thought it a very slender scaffold tower, glad to see it was well tied in to the building. It’s a long way down for a comfort break!


Scafold tower-100741

I’m more used seeing building sites like this secured, I’m sure if you tried this at home, some likely lad, would think it a blast to scamper up after a few pints!  The footings looked quite relaxed too…


I’ve hardly any photos of the town, my planned day of  mooching around the streets, camera in hand was scuppered by a dramatic drop in temperature that left us scampering between coffee shops and museums  dodging the icy winds, others have done better than me .

Such a shame the day before had been a beautiful spring day, Spud the dog who came along for his first overseas trip had been lapping up the sun and watching the world go by from his favourite spot in the van

Ypres spud


Spud had to have a visit to the vets whilst in Ypres, to have a worming tablet, a statutory requirement if he was to allowed back into the UK and to be marked on his pet passport. We found the vets online before we left home,  the appointment was made by email and it was all very straight forward, and for Spud who has seen more than his fair share of vets over the last few months,  he thought it rather swish and he was more than happy to escape with just a tasty tablet.


Ypres 6


We were a bit perplexed the evening before, when we looked down the street where we thought the vets was located, it was all very traditional and looked residential rather than commercial, but in the daylight when the shutters were up we discovered that to accommodate the need for more modern space in such a carefully protected townscape, the façade of buildings are preserved, meanwhile  the walls within are a totally reworked space across several buildings, here at the vets, a carpark is on the lower floor with a sweeping ramp up to the glass walled offices and consulting rooms on the first floor.


Ypres 7

I wondered what it was like to live in a town with the legacy of remembrance tourism, tricky sometimes maybe?

But the hospitality we received was generous to say the least, here is a chicken pie, that we ordered ‘to share’  between two of us.

chicken pie to share_

It goes without saying that Belgium beer is good, and the  chocolate is divine, the scent of which wafts along the main square,


Ypres 4

judging by the state of this  last photo, I  obviously took it after the beer,

Less than Most

We’ve less snow here most areas of the country, this is unusual, we’re the ones who usually cop for it. It’s been bitterly cold,  I’ve never caught sight of the thermometer above –3.7C all day.

Fields -1

I’ve been confined to the house today, I’ve yet another bout of some cold/flu bug (and whilst it isn’t anything like as bad as the  outbreak of purple giraffes, I do feel rather bleugh…..) The photo  above dates back to the 28th of November.

Given the general ‘shock horror’ attitude going on around the country about snow,   I feel it is worth reposting these photos from the family archives, the full story is here

From 1901


and 1947


I’m happy to be corrected, but I think both photos are of the village of Sparrowpit, the first one being the ‘Wanted Inn’

Thou shall hev a fishy, on a little dishy

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.

Assorted  lyrics  for this traditional song are here, or you can listen over here for added atmosphere.



Meet Bernard the gurnard, the boys seem to manage to catch a gurnard every year on their mackerel fishing trip: it is always called Bernard.

Not sure why Bernard looks so happy, he is destined for the bar-b-que.

Bernard take 2-2

and very tasty he was too.

Men on a Mission

Mr Uphilldowndale, Tom and Joe have been on a mission. Remember all the trees we cut down? Well they needed splitting down into firewood size chunks.

a pile of potential 1-2

It was no small task. So we borrowed my brother in laws (BiL) log splitting device, in fact we brought it all the way back from Weymouth* with us  (so it was just as well we left Tom down there fore a few days or we’d have never squeezed everything in the car.)

So time passes and BiL has come to visit, and  he will be taking his machine away with him, so it forced the log splitting task to the top of the very long ‘to do list’ that is running here.

Look! Mission accomplished. I think this heap of logs is a thing of beauty, very hunter gatherer, it is April and we’ve got next winters logs sorted. Excellent.

a thing of beauty-2

  Must dash, we’ve a handsome slab of beef is roasting in the oven and I’ve finished my glass of Fursty Ferret 

* If I mention Weymouth relief road in this post it will make BiL’s ‘Google alert’ go ping on his phone! Ha Ha gotcha BiL, twice.

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 !