Uphilldowndale

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


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Fleurs Place

Mr Uphilldowndale will tell you this was his highlight of the holiday.

We rolled in to  the small fishing town of Moeraki  looking for lunch, I’d a fancy for a pie, New Zealand makes very tasty pies.  Mr Uphilldowndale was scrolling through his phone to see what might be on  offer,  he announced ‘Rick Steins favourite seafood restaurant in the world is here, it’s called Fleurs Place*’.  Well, I thought that puts it out of budget then, you could  probably buy a truck load of pies for the price of a lunch with that pedigree.

But we walked down to the harbour, hungry and curious. It wasn’t the brightest of days, to take a look,  from the outside the restaurant  had a time worn patina,  a touch of some village halls I can think of here in the UK, there was a lot of outdoor seating, but it wasn’t that kind of day.

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Inside it was warm and cosy, we took a look at a menu; to our surprise the price was do-able for a lunch that had much more promise than a pie; and to our delight, yes they did have a table for three,  they’d get it set for us right away.

They were just about to start the lunchtime service, a member of staff was setting flowers on the tables, I’m always going to gravitate to the flowers, they were roses, the deepest red velvety roses I think I’d ever seen, and their perfume was decadent

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The style of the decor, was eclectic, the kind of thing that looks like it didn’t take much trouble to pull together, but it did.

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The tables, scrubbed; cutlery bone handled, china mismatched.

A wonderful old range, in the corner, made me think of my mother in laws precious range, and her pride in keeping it lit through the winter.

Fleurs place NZ range

We were guided through the menu**,  the starters we were advised are large, the recommendation was that we share a starter. This was good advice.

Fleurs place NZ starter

Tom said if we were paying he’d drive, and we could have some of New Zealand’s lush wine, maybe that is why this photo is not quiet as sharp as it should be?

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Fleur herself was front of house, there was no question she is fully in charge of every detail,  the food, staff, presentation, the works. With her mane of surf white hair, she exudes energy  charm and charisma.  You’d never guess she’s 80 years young (Fleur opened this restaurant at the age of 63 after her recovery from cancer).

What Fleur has in boat loads, is the ability to make her guests at ease, it is her homely yet special hospitality that creates an alchemy that makes this place so memorable.  After our meal she came and sat with us, chatted with Tom about where he’s working and what he thinks of  New Zealand, we in turn bought Fleur’s biography,  she signed it for us.

Fleur

As another customer was leaving I heard him thank Fleur and the staff,  ‘I’ll remember that meal till the day I die’.  So will we.

*Fleurs, the record, there is no apostrophe.

**I have one regret, that I didn’t try a dish that was on the menu, mottonbird, it wasn’t until later in our trip that a guide at the museum in Wellington, talked about how muttonbirds were considered such a delicacy that they were shipped out to Kiwi soldiers during WWII to help maintain morale. 

 

 


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Thinking of you, New Zealand

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

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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,  

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

 

 

 

 


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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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The detail (with edible pebbles!)

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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


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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.

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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.

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* this is independent eyewitness testimony, not teenage bravado!


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Telling War Stories

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

 

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

 

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‘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.


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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

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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.

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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)

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Now the Day is Over

Well it didn’t last long, what with it being the shortest day. But it is behind us now things will get better.

On Sunday I watched the sunset, no big deal I suppose, it sank very quickly; I took this series of photos in less than 10 minutes, but it wasn’t the rate of decent that captivated me it was how the sun rolled along the skyline, from left to right.

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note the trees silhouetted  against the sun in the first shot

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within minutes it was clear of the trees.

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The Colour Purple

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I’ve not been well, some flu like virus sent me to bed yesterday, I slept most of the day. I dreamt that I was on a beach, the tide was lapping in, all over the beach their were little giraffes; they were purple and black in colour, they would have been about 18 inches tall, but I never saw one in its entirety, you see they were buried up to their necks in the sand when a wave came they shivered and pulled their necks back into the sand, so that just their eyes, ears and little horns stayed above the tide. I tried to take a photo for you, but I couldn’t get them in focus (no surprise really). Very strange.

As a child if I was ill I’d dream about being chased by bears; little purple and black giraffes shivering in the sand are less scary, I think. But please, don’t feed the last paragraph into a search engine, followed by the word, Freud. I don’t want to know.

Today I’ve felt a bit better but still pretty wiped out, I’ve watched TV footage of the Chilean miners rescue. More tissues required, its a special kind of maudlin that comes with the flu.

It got me thinking of all the mining that has taken place around here over the centuries lead, coal, salt, flourspar (non now alas, mining is an industry that has always swiftly followed the lowest price and highest return). Dangerous dirty work the working conditions of which I suspect are beyond the imagination of our generation.

Two  previous posts with a mining theme came to mind, the eerie Magpie Mine in Derbyshire

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and a post about the town of Whitehaven

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Thank you to Glo, for sending me this wonderful get well card, inspired by my dream (see it as it is meant to be on Glo’s site Porcelain Rose)