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.  

And The Other Reason

We went to Wales, was so that Tom who is very keen on mountain bikes,

Tom on bike, by Joe-2

Could go to a mountain bike ‘demo day’ at Coed-y-Brenin,

Forestry Commission Wales’ mountain bike Mecca, Coed-y-Brenin forest is home to an ever increasing network of fantastic handbuilt all weather singletrack and even a dual slalom course. The technical roller coaster riding will have you grinning like a fool, with stunning mountain views of surrounding Snowdonia and the coast that’ll take your breath away

Let me explain, before hand, Tom had booked on line to try out some of the bikes he aspires too, all the big names were there, touting their gear.

Bikes galore-2

Tom had 3x 40min slots booked, and off he went in to the forest, on about £3000 worth of mountain bike.

forest trail 1-2

Mr Uhdd took some for a test ride too, the pair of them were very impressed; but they can dream on.

Joe and I went for a walk instead, it is where we came across beautiful moss,

forest trail-2

We took the Gain waterfall trail (and we’d like you to note that the sign says it is a strenuous route, so maybe Joe should nave worn something other than his Crocs on his feet.) We found the waterfall


and an awful lot of ants. Not just any old ants, but the famous, coed-y-Brenan hairy wood ant (it is their eyebrows that are hairy, apparently) there’s


a very nice video here, narrated with lovely lilting Welsh accents  and with much better shots of the splendid ants nests than I managed.




Why we Went to Wales

In part it was for Mr Uhdd to have a look at the boat he will be sailing on during The Three Peaks Yacht Race. She was out of the water for a little TLC, not that she needs much TLC, she is a young and sprightly boat. But boats always need a touch of something, or so I’ve observed, from a distance; I think we’ve established on this blog, I don’t ‘do’ boats, well not very much.

3 Peaks Race Prep-2

I was going to say it is because I am a Derbyshire lass, but then so is Dame Ellen Macarthur and it doesn’t seem to have stopped her embracing the sea. Tom likes to do some sailing,  however Joe is always keener on shore based maintenance.

Boy and a Boat-2

(For the record, Mr Uhdd got more paint on himself than Joe did and the paint cost £70 a tin; the alcohol hand wash stuff out of the first aid kit was good for getting the paint off Mr Uhdd face, he had something of the Braveheart look about him by the time they had finished.)

Joe has been like this since a very young age, here he is in New York, in 2003, alongside  the boat Bristol Clipper, helping some of the crew fix something important.


Joe’s uncle ‘BiL’ was skipper of Bristol Clipper, in the  Clipper around the world yacht race. 02-03, and we all flew out to meet up with the the boat,  when it arrived in New York; it was an adventure I seem to remember, I wish I had a blog of that time to look back on.

Even a land lubber like me can work out it is sails Joe’s working on here.


after that he moved on to quarter master duties, although a fair bit of flour seems to be ending up on the crew.


You just couldn’t keep him out of the thick of it!


He is still the same, once you’ve peeled him  off the XBox. But I digress, and what a pleasant browse I’ve had through the ‘New York photos’ this evening;  a perk of blog post writing. Considering we are so not ‘city people’ we loved New York

Back to real time; Mr Uhdd had a crack at the Three Peaks Yacht Race last year, and is going back for more, he has bought a new bike for the occasion. No doubt you will  be hearing more about the race, but here is a heads up (or should it be hands up) about what the race entails.

Three peaks -2

Note the date; just a few days after my significant birthday.

Moving Mountains

moving mountains-2

Is it really a week ago we were in Wales? Sigh. So where did that week go?

It is eerily quiet here in this bit of Derbyshire, not a plane in the sky. Whilst we live under the flight path of Manchester airport, we don’t pay much attention to the approaching planes, they aren’t so low at this point to be ‘in your face’ but there presence is part of the white noise that makes up the ‘soundscape’. It is odd when they are not there, it is like the birds not singing or as  they used to say in the old cowboy films ‘ I don’t like it, something’s wrong, its too quiet out there’. I hope we don’t get ambushed.

Apparently there was a stunning sunset last night as a result of the Icelandic dust clouds. I missed it. But here is the sunset from our guest house in Wales, Cae Du,  near Blaenau Ffestiniog (which was comfortable very welcoming and has stunning views.)

Early evening-2

and a little later