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


Thinking of you, New Zealand

There are no words, for such atrocities.  They are beyond reason.

tree fern B&W

Dicksonia squarrosa, New Zealand Tree Fern

Our son Tom is living and working in NZ at the moment,  I’d kind of thought of it as a ‘safe place’ for his travels, but the world is not like that is it?  Just wishful thinking from a mum on the other side of the globe.

I have a brooch, a special present from my mum, made by a New Zealand artist Denna Gracie, who is based in Christchurch,  it’s inscribed with the Maori word Aroha,  


Aroha, means love, compassion, or affectionate regard.  It seems appropriate for today, as is  the Kiwi expression Kia Kaha, stay strong. 






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!


Telling War Stories

Keeping the memory alive. ‘Tell me about your medals?’ I asked the elderly gentleman at the war memorial this morning.


Storyline -1


And tell me he did, but perhaps most telling of all, was the story of his coat


Coat tales -1

‘I always wear this coat when I wear my medals, it belonged to my friend, he served in Burma. I like to wear it, so I remember him.’  Time is passing and  the number of men and women who served in World War II and who are here to tell the tale, is dwindling.

It was at funeral of Mr Uphilldowndale’s aunt N that we heard she had worked during the war at RAF Medmenham, and that her work for the Central Interpretation Unit had been mentioned in dispatches.  We never knew, I’ve mentioned such modesty before

Gerry also has a story of exceptional bravery over on her blog, a story that almost went untold.


97% of Islanders Won’t Be Wrong

The Isle of Eigg Says No to Fish Farm

The Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland, has a special place in the heart of this family. I’ve been there a number of  times, I’ve had the privilege of watching otters, golden eagles, seals and pods of porpoise, going about their business. It is a magical place and the people who live there care about it passionately


If the residents of Eigg say no to the proposal to site a fish farm of the coast of the island, it will be for good reason.


Opposition to a Fish Farm on the Isle of Eigg

Eigg is owned and managed (including the foreshore) by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a community led organisation whose aims include taking all appropriate measures to conserve the natural heritage of the island for the benefit of the community & the wider general public.

To this end Eigg is building a reputation as a green island working towards sustainability. Visitors come to the island to learn from our experience and to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the island and the peace and quiet. Most of the islands electricity is generated by renewable technology and the sound of diesel generators is but a distant memory.

Highland Council has recently received an initial application to site a fish farm off the east coast of Eigg, north of Kildonan. The site identified covers an area extending to 20ha (this equates to 28 football pitches) & would consist of 14 x 30m diameter cages which would be serviced by a 10m x 10m permanently sited barge (powered by diesel generator).

The community has considered this proposal at length. The outcome of the resulting ballot which had an 86% turnout was 97% against the development.

Eigg lies within the Small Isles National Scenic Area. A large fish farm would have a considerable negative impact on the approach to the island and could also impact negatively on the peace and quiet that visitors seek when they come to the island, as well as on the quality of life of nearby residents.

Laig Panorama

Be a good Eigg, and pop along and sign the on line petition (and you can find some more photos of Eigg here, just a few, sadly I’ve not been up to Eigg since I got into the digital camera lark, I’m sure there would be 100’s and 100’s of images if I went now)