Saturday, 29 September 2012

Two go wild in Dorset

A week off work; a chance to smooth our feathers and feel the sea breeze in our hair (well my hair anyway - I'm not sure Mark can say the same). I feel calm and recharged...and I came home to my redundancy notice, which was quite a buzz. I don't know if I can make running my own business sustainable in the long term, but I am really looking forward to giving it a go. In six months' time I will be often packing my car with fabric and my sewing machine to make the most of the seaside inspiration, and to give Mark the chance to watch as much sport as he can manage.

West Bay

I will try not to post the same things I posted in "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...!" but, if I do, my excuse is that the sea never looks the same on any two days.

I am something of a early morning fan. I am at my best early (and totally useless by 9pm) and really enjoy seeing the world before all the people wake up and make it messy. I love to take photographs at dawn, and this time of year I can do that without even having to get up horribly early. I have been known to get up at 04.30 to catch the first light, but 06.30 is so much more reasonable. Mark likes to lie-in while on holiday, so I leave him to it and when I get back to the flat, he is ready for breakfast (and I am ready for lunch).

This trip, my first early morning stroll started by the river. I was drawn to the dramatic sky reflected in the water and wet mud.

As the sun came over the hills beyond the little town, it looked as though the sky was on fire!

sunrise over West Bay
clouds on fire


sunrise reflected in the Riverside Restaurant windows

The harbour is lovely before the day-trippers get there.

West Bay harbour at dawn
riverside daisies

The George pub by the harbour

A flock of young starlings had taken over the stacks of lobster pots and creels.

starlings taking flight

fishing boat
cottages by the beach
The wonderful thing about clouds is that they give the sunlight the chance to show off - unspoilt sunshine is rather flat and dull, when it isn't set off against the shadow of the clouds. Actually the weather this week has been perfect. Just the right mixture of sunshine and strong chilly breezes, with enough heavy rain showers to make sheltering in tea shops justifiable.

From West Bay you can see Lyme Regis the other side of Lyme Bay. It is funny how often we stand in West Bay looking enviously at the sunshine in Lyme, or we stand in Lyme looking at the sunshine in West Bay.

sunlight on Lyme Regis from West Bay harbour
I apologise for the number of photos of the early morning sun on the beach towards Burton Bradstock; I deleted a load...honestly! I found the way the light shone through to the beach totally mesmerising. I couldn't help thinking about the poor woman who died in a rock-fall there this Summer. I kept to the open part of the beach, as the tide was too high to walk any further safely. The cliffs are beautiful but rock-falls are common, particularly after heavy rain.

sunlight on the waves
sunlight over Burton Bradstock
waves at sunrise

sunrise at Burton Bradstock

waves in the sunlight

We often see cormorants perching and watching the sea, but I was chuffed to catch a photo of this one in flight:
cormorant in flight

Yet more photos of West Bay harbour:

The flower beds in front of the Shipyard Centre flats, looked lovely in the early morning light - really delicate.

Towards the end  of our stay we spotted a crowd on the beach. I think it was just a coach load of day trippers, determined to walk on the beach despite the weather, but I couldn't help wondering if there was something going on that nobody had told us about!

umbrellas on the beach

Lyme Regis

About ten miles along the coast from West Bay the coast road dips down through Lyme Regis. I love the place - bracing walks along the sea front, tiny houses nestling together, some lovely shops and cafes and history too...if you get lucky you may even find a fossil or two.

We like to park in a car park a little way up the hill from the town centre, and walk along a narrow path with water both sides. There had been so much rain, both sides were raging.

From the path you get glimpses of tiny houses and higgeldy-piggeldy rooftops:

houses in Lyme

Lyme rooftops

This gull got a little fed up with being my photographic model and went off in a huff.

gull with attitude
I see no ships!

There is a wonderful mix of styles in the houses along the promenade.
Lyme Regis houses
We spotted this little puppy who was just too tired to walk any further.
cute puppy

The yellow boat here was called 'dreamcatcher' - seems to have caught more water than dreams this week.
boats in Lyme Regis harbour
Lyme Regis harbour
Mark by the Cobb at Lyme

It was quite sunny when we were in Lyme, but very windy - there was no way I was walking along the top of the Cobb while waves were crashing across it!

waves across the Cobb at Lyme

time for a shower?

big waves at Lyme Regis

brave or foolish?

my very own sea dog
fishing nets

Victoria Pier, Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis from the Cobb

old rates of merchandise board

gull on Lyme harbour

The town of Lyme Regis is full of bunting - it makes it look as though there is a permanent street party!

Before Mark and I started losing weight, Jane Austen park looked a little too steep to bother with, but now it's an easy walk - and there are great views over the harbour.

view from Jane Austen park in Lyme

More houses in Lyme Regis:

Monkey World

On Tuesday, Mark and I headed for Wool (near Wareham) to Monkey World - a remarkable rescue centre for apes and monkeys. These animals have often had traumatic pasts, but are socialised with others of their species and live in really big enclosures with great care - while still allowing them to live as apes and monkeys. There is a huge amount to see and I highly recommend the keepers' talks.


I struggled to get a photo of this baby chimp, as he didn't stay still for a minute.

sheltering from the rain
 The ring-tailed lemurs' enclosure is open to the public, so you can walk through and get very close to them. It's a lovely place.
ring-tailed lemurs

ring-tailed lemurs grooming
 My personal favourites are the woolly monkeys; they are really beautiful.
woolly monkey and baby

woolly monkey waiting for his hard-boiled egg

baby woolly monkey

woolly monkey


 I think the wet Summer has been a problem for butterflies generally, but the September second wave seems to be doing pretty well. Mainly red admirals, but I also spotted quite a few small whites (I think; I find white ones difficult to differentiate between) and one or two commas.

red admiral

red admiral

red admiral

red admiral

small white?

red admiral

red admiral and bee


small white?

red admiral

red admirals

Other feathered and furry friends

I feel a bit mean visiting the animals at the farm shop, knowing they are destined to end up inside the shop - but at least you can see they are happy and well-cared for.

Abbotsbury swannery

The walk down to the swannery goes through fields of sheep. I really must get my eyes tested again - I couldn't quite work out why this sheep had such big was only when I uploaded the photos, I realised they were horns rather than ears!

On this visit, although there were still lots of swans, it could almost have been called a duckery...


camouflaged duck
coot chick

It seemed to be a day for washing and preening...lots of splashing going on.

Sleeping also seemed to be in fashion:

dozing teenage swans

synchronised preening


Being young, trendy types, there's little Mark and I enjoy more than a...walk around a garden!

Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens

feed me...feed me now!

Forde Abbey, near Chard

I really do covet a walled vegetable garden - and I love the way they mix vegetables and flowers.

Twiglet the pony

Mapperton Gardens, near Beaminster

Barrington Court, near Ilminster

I love the way they grow squashes over these archways:

squash people (that's a description, not an instruction!)


Of course one of the best things about a holiday is the eating! I love breakfast, and we tend to have a big breakfast and not need lunch. My favourite place is the Watch House Cafe in West Bay. It is right on the beach but protected from the elements (although you can sit completely outside on sunny days).

Watch House Cafe, West Bay

Watch House Cafe

pancakes with fruit and yoghurt (I had already eaten one before Mark reminded me to take a photo!)

cute cutlery holder

vegetable breakfast enchiladas
eggs florentine

For lunch you cannot beat the Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis - simple, delicious food. You help yourself from a long table, take a seat at another long table, watch them baking in front of you and tell them what you ate at the end when you pay. It's a great place.

tomato soup and fennel bread, Town Mill Bakery
Town Mill Bakery, Lyme Regis

I read a poor review of the cafe at Forde Abbey, but I have enjoyed the food there every time I have been - soup again; this time beef goulash.

goulash soup at Forde Abbey

Forde Abbey tea rooms
At Monkey World we had a delicious beef chilli and baked potato and watched the sparrows bathing in puddles.

Monkey World cafe

I felt rather disloyal for having breakfast at the Watch House Cafe rather than our old haunt of the Ellipse cafe, but we did have lunch there one day...and very yummy it was too!

mocha at the Ellipse

fab burger at the Ellipse, West Bay

We stopped at Barrington Court on our way home and had one last cup for tea and flapjack:

Barrington Court tea and flapjack

Barrington Court tea room

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