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


Family Roots

My blog lurches along, in fits and starts. Many things have been bubbling away, they seems to consume vast swaths of time, but if I were to list them all here, the majority would seem very mundane. But I’ll kick start a few posts by telling you about a special event.

We had a family gathering at Kew Gardens in London, to inter my father in laws ashes, long time readers might remember that he died in 2013, his wish was that his body be donated for medical science and we held a memorial service soon after his death.

  After a period of time (12 months in my father in laws case) the body  is returned to the family and they can make their own arrangements, if that is what the donor requested , or the anatomy  society arranges for a cremation and the scattering of the ashes at the crematorium. 

palm house 3


Mr Uphilldowndale’s father visited Kew often, it was a favourite place. One of the reasons for his interest was that a family ancestor, was a keen amateur botanist and a number of plants were named after him by his friend botanist Joseph Hooker, who was a director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. So you can see what a fitting place it seemed to be for the interment. The staff at Kew looked after us beautifully, and extended their hospitality by inviting us to stay on to enjoy the preview night of their Christmas lights, this seemed a perfect way to round off the day, it was quite magical.


So some photos of Kew by night

The palm house, the lights and flames all timed to music, pure theatre

Kew lights 4

Meandering through the glass houses

Kew lights 6


Kew lights 7

Surreal candelabra suspended from trees

Kew lights_

The cacti house seemed other worldly.

Cacti at Kew_

Cacti at Kew 2

The Palm House,

Kew palm house_

ever changing.

Kew lights 3


Up Hill Down Dale and Bobbing About on Boats

Mr Uphilldowndale has set out on his annual expedition to compete in the The Three Peaks Yacht Race, this is the third consecutive year that he has taken part,  so he has got the kit list down to a fine art, which is just as well there is a lot of it. Three sets of running kit, foul weather gear for the boat (remember the hi-tec waterproof testing we subject the gear too a couple of years back?


  Then there is the cyclo-cross bike, spares, tools and one of my home made ginger cakes, so the boat should have plenty of ballast.

I’ve a very jaundiced view of boats (well the hue is more nauseous green than yellow) following a not very pleasant experience as a child. My adult self knows that boats are not all bad, but the inner child screams get me off this thing. So it was very thoughtful of Mr Uhdd to forward the following images to my inbox the other day.


These are of the Peterhead Trawler Harvester. Taken from her Sistership.












Request Stop

Mr Uhdd has taken the return journey to Wales today, by rail, to collect the car. We made sure (several times) that this time, he had in fact got the car keys upon his person. The railway station in Wales at which he wished to alight was a request stop, and the name of the station?

I'm not going to even try and spell it-2

This is of course the longest place name in the Welsh language, or any other for all I know,  the name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch


St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave."

So why didn’t they just say so. (I’ve posted before about my inability to get a handle on Welsh place names.)

I'm not going to even try and spell it 2-2

The user friendly version of this tongue twister of a Welsh place name is Llanfair P.G, which is just as well, because otherwise Mr Uhdd may well have missed his stop. And then he wouldn’t have got back home in time to find some leverets down the field this afternoon. I may have to have a little peek myself, from a discrete distance with a long lens. I’ll keep you posted.


Normal Service will be Resumed as Soon as Possible

Although I’ve forgotten what normal is! Mr Uhdd is not quite home yet, the  goal posts for his return moved from Monday to Tuesday and his route home diverted via the Isle of Man,  he’s in harbour at Holyhead now, where he left the car, but there is a little complication that will delay him further, remember that bag of dirty laundry that BiL brought home from the end of the Three Peaks Yacht Race, on Mr Uhdd’s behalf? It had Mr Uhdd’s car keys in it. Car in Wales, keys in Derbyshire, that’s not going to work.

So this is as near as I can get to the promised post about pig nuts,

pig nuts 2-2

my friend Mrs Bee has a whole field full in bloom right now and I’m keen to get along and photograph them. But it has been raining hard over night, so they might be battered to the ground, maybe I’ve missed the moment for this year. Watch this space.

pig nuts-2


It Will All Come Out in the Wash

Mr Uhdd has finished The Three Peaks Yacht Race, the team had a really good time and are very happy with their overall place, in the top ten.


He’s not back home yet but his dirty laundry is! My brother in law BiL who has been  driving around by road supporting the event, rolled up here last night with a rucksack of the stuff. Yuk.

IMG_2409 (2)

Mr Uhdd checked in at lunch time today, it seems they will be sailing back down in the general direction of home, via a Scottish whisky distillery and with a quick hop across to Ireland and he’ll probably be back on Monday. His laundry may be sorted, but we’ve one or two other tasks lined up for him on his return.


A Kind of Hush

A kind of hush as descended on the uphilldowndale household; after weeks of being busy doing allsorts of must do’s and wanna do’s, not to mention, my birthday (which was lovely, cake ,flowers, champagne, the works), I’ve found myself with 4 days with few commitments, a treat.  Mr Uhilldowndale has set off for the Three Peaks Yacht Race taking with him what seemed like a vast array of kit, sailing gear (remember last years kit test?) then there is his running stuff, the bike and biking gear. The house is quiet and empty. I needed a bit of time and space to potter around, to catch up with that nagging mental list of things to do that has been nipping at my heels for weeks.

I’m on a mission to get the house straight, it has been woefully neglected of late. I’m not so fussed about giving it a deep clean, not that it doesn’t need one, its just that on Monday the builders arrive. It is a big job we are about to start, that has the potential to be messy and disruptive and one that is going to take a number of weeks. I know from experience nothing can spread and penetrate every nook and cranny quite like 300 year old muck and dust, so for the moment, I’m just going to enjoy having the place to myself. It might be dusty now, but I know this is nothing compared to what might be.

I’m sure these ladies wouldn’t have been as lacking in fastidiousness as I. They look formidable ( we think the photo dates from about 1906-10)

Ladies of the house-2

They used to live in this very house, the lady on the left is the grandmother of Freddy the farmer, who, like generations of his family before him, farmed these fields right up until the 1970’s (Freddy was a shooting pal of my Dad’s) The family resemblance between the lady on the left and Freddy was so strong that when my mum saw this photo she exclaimed ‘Oh my god, it’s Freddy in a frock!’

So you’ve seen the people, here is their home

Home sweet home-2

Potentially I could turn this blog into a skip load of building tales, I will post about the work, I’m hoping that during the process we discover some blogable history about this ‘ere house. But for the time being I’ll keep the blog as a place to escape to. Think of me shrouded under dust sheets tapping away at the keyboard whilst the dust of past worlds floats by..


Beyond Comprehension

The unfolding horrific events in the town of Whitehaven and the surrounding countryside seem inconceivable.


The town must still have been reeling from the recent crash involving a school bus, for the mourners to have found themselves caught up in this is a double tragedy.

Whitehaven’s name will probably become inextricably linked to today’s events. But here is Whitehaven, as we found it; a small isolated town, a community, one with a long history of coping with adversity and tragedy, by being just that; a community.