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


Sun Store

I wish I could keep a box of sunshine on my desk. So that on grey, driech days like today, I could lift the lid and let it spill out. 

It seems churlish to complain really, as this time last week, I was in south Wales and we had the most glorious weather; whilst ‘up north’ was shrouded in mist and fog.

This is Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands


As we strolled down the path, I think I was expecting a little bay,  but the size and beauty  of this beach catches your breath. If you’d ask me what my favourite UK beach was, I’d probably have said, Laig on the Isle of Eigg, I’m now ranking them joint first. 

Spud the dog loved it too.

Spud Marloes Sand_

I pondered on the powers of nature, looking at the mighty upheavals of rock and near vertical bedding planes,

bedding planes Marloes Sand_

I didn’t discover until later that it is a great place for a spot of fossil hunting

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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

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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….

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Ocean Valour 12

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Tender Wooden Care

Another post from my jolly into Norfolk with my friend Mrs Ogg.

We stumbled upon Rescue Wooden Boats,  at Burnham Norton; Mrs Ogg’s eye was caught by their logo, it is by one of her favourite artists James Dodds and we have curious minds so we decided to take a look.

We found a warm and knowledgeable welcome at their museum,housed in old RAF huts. I was particularly impressed by the work they have done to capture the history of the fishing community. You could spend many an hour watching their archive of films (it might take a wee while to get your ear attuned to the accent though!)

After we’d spent some time in the museum we were given a tour of the boat shed where their were several boats undergoing restoration,

Rescue wooden boats_

and many more awaiting tender loving care. Rescue wooden boats 6

But not all was history, there was a stunning looking commission being built, in the traditional style

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All  smooth timber, sumptuous glossy varnish *

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and  exceptional craftsmanship

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Glimpses could be seen, that it is was very much a place of industry

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The largest boat under restoration was the Lucy Lavers, a lifeboat, built in 1939 whose very first mission was to take part in the rescue operation at the Battle of Dunkirk,

rescue wooden boats 14

She and her history are to big to fit in this post,  but you can read more here.

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I take my hat off to all those who give their time and effort to Recue Wooden Boats. Brilliant work.


* The irony being I’d left Mr Uphilldowndale at home varnishing six new wooden doors, three coats each side… He’d have loved to have visited here.


Where to Start

The problem with letting a blog lie fallow is just where do you start to pick up the thread: it’s not that things haven’t been happening there are dozens of things I’d love to blog about. it’s just that there have been many other calls on my time. That, and I’ve simply fallen out of the habit of posting.

So rather than worry about which adventure to start with, I’ll start with the most recent, a weekend away with my friend Mrs Ogg, we’ve been to Norfolk. Where the sea meets the sky



Norfolk is a place very close to Mrs Ogg’s heart, and somewhere I’ve hardly visited. Mr’s Ogg had a list of a hundred things she wanted to show me, amongst them were the beach huts at Wells Next The Sea (My blog looks a little like the beach hut on the left, it could do with a coat of paint, like the other two, do you not think?)


fallow shed_ 

It would be very hard to pick a favourite

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The Further Adventures of Spud the Dog, October13th 2013

It goes without saying that Spud the dog has been missing Tom since he went to university. We were a bit worried he’d pile on some weight without Tom around to whack  tennis balls for him, for hours on end; but having the door open all day every day and a continuous stream of guys working in the field, yard  and house has meant he has had more  time outside and exercise than he might otherwise have done*.


Here is Spud in the car, watching and waiting for Tom to come down from his room in halls, no dog allowed in halls I’m afraid.

Spud student spotting_


He had a splendid time on the beach, swimming in the silvery sea

Spud sea_


And playing ball in the dunes, we took the winger dinger and a tennis ball, we still have a few  left from our bargain buy.

Tom and Spud_


*We are wondering just how many of the windfall apples Spud has managed to drop in the kilometre of trench that was dug  in the field, for the pipes to feed the ground source heat pump, we may have an orchard rather than a meadow next year. 


Walk and Talk

It’s been quite a break since I last posted. It’s been pretty tricky keeping up with things whilst the ground source heat pump work has been on going. The upheaval has been nothing that we didn’t expect and we knew that the 300 hundred year old dust that was likely to be liberated by  digging, drilling and hammering has a particular way of getting everywhere… that you can’t rip out an existing central heating system and replace it with new pipe work and radiators without any house sinking into disarray.

In many ways I’ve welcomed the distraction after Tom set out for university (and his bedroom has come in very useful) I’ve not had too much time to be melancholy, but I have missed him.


He’s studying at Bangor University, it’s not too far away,  a couple of hours drive, we went to see him on Friday. Of course Spud  the dog came too.

Having dropped off a food parcel and a few things he wanted at his halls,  we  all went for a picnic, calling in at Waitrose supermarket at Menai Bridge, To buy a some tasty morsels, its where Kate and Wills used to shop you know

Kate and Will smoothie_


Tom then drove us to Newborough Forest, on  the island of Anglesey. We had a lovely afternoon, walking on the beach

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and in the forest.


Newbrough Forest_

It’s a stunning spot, excellent car parking and facilities.

The beach is peppered with beautiful shells,  soft coloured rocks with batik patterns


rock formations Newborough_

and flowers


Sea Holly Newborough_


Spud the dog will be along tomorrow with his side of the story.


I’ve Never Seen

A seahorse, I used to think they only lived in  warm, tropical seas, but apparently they live here, amongst the seagrass  beds in Salcombe harbour (when the tide is in, obviously, when the seagrass would be all floaty and a nice place to hang out if you were a seahorse.)

Seagrass beds 3

The other thing I couldn’t manage to capture on camera, were water spurts, from razor fish, shooting up in front of me, from the sand, some twelve inches or so high. They  hide in the sand at low tide, all that was to be seen was the hole in the sand. Not very exciting is it…

Seagrass beds_

I tried to find a video of such a thing, but I couldn’t see that either. I did manage to find a little more about them though.

However some folk have for more success at capturing natures more elusive moments. Watch and enjoy.


Oh and here is another animal that has been elusive, Spud the dog, enjoying the sea, wearing his smart harness, purchased to replace the one trashed in the sledging foray.  It’s an all together beefier little number than the previous one; Spud thinks it makes him look like a proper working dog, even on holiday

Sea Spud


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