Sunday, 28 October 2012

Autumn leaves, pumpkins and early ghouls

I usually resent people referring to my Thursdays and Fridays as non-work days, preferring to call them my non-paid days...after all I generally do loads of work. However, this week they genuinely were non-work days. On Thursday I spent the day with Karen. I know far too many Karens so each one needs an additional identifier; this one has become known as 'mental Karen'. Actually it started as 'mentor Karen' as she was my mentor in the Opportunities Mentoring Programme, but Mark misheard me and the name has stuck. Karen brought her little boy with her - I cannot begin to tell you the delight that is James! He has the cutest dimples when he smiles and he has that perfect balance of well-behaved mischief. When he looks at you with his angelic face and twinkly eyes and asks, "why do ladies talk so much?" you just want snuggle him up. If you could bottle essence of James, nobody would ever need antidepressants again!

It was a good day - haircut, dreary start to the weather improving as the day went on and, after dithering between heading down Walcott Street or George Street (I walked in to get a bit of exercise), I plumped for Walcott Street and happened upon a one day only fabric sale pop-up shop!! Oh my! It was less than 25% the normal cost of such lovely fabric - so I think I was quite restrained to only spend £10!

fabric pop-up shop
Heading towards where Karen and James were parking, I was struck - as I frequently am - by how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. When I lived in Bristol I always said I would never live in Bath because the people there are too posh, then I met Mark and realised how wrong I was (although to be fair there are quite a few posh people; Mark is just not one of them), and I have fallen in love with the city. I have learnt that if I shop on a Saturday to go in early and miss the crowds of tourists, and the beauty of the city never fails to fill me with awe.

City of Bath
Karen is with me on the concept that shopping is the excuse to mooch between tea shops - so we fitted in two. I had to spread the joy that is Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms for lunch (spiced vegetable and lentil soup with a toasted cheese and tomato sarnie) and we also tried one I hadn't been to before (I know, you thought I had been to them all!). We had a cup of tea and cake in the Bath Bun...very nice; the blueberry flapjack was yummy and I can never resist Chai tea. I do wonder if I should write a tea shop guide...

On Saturday it was the management company AGM for the 'estate' where we have a holiday flat. Mark had a day's leave on Friday so we had a long weekend in Dorset. It was a short visit, but really nice and relaxing. One of the many joys of West Bay for me is the multitude of friendly dogs to fuss. I would dearly love to have a dog, but it never seems fair to leave a dog at home alone. We had talked about, if my first year of self-employment goes to plan, looking for a rescued dog to give a home to. It would of course have to get on well with cats, but we found out this week that Max the cat's recurring cystitis is probably feline lower urinary tract disease. Basically his urine is not sufficiently acidic and he has developed crystals in his urine. The treatment is a change in diet - he now has to have very expensive specialist food (as will Rio so Max doesn't eat his food) - but it can be made worse with stress, so I suspect any plans to have a dog will have to be ditched. I don't really mind; I adore the cats and would do anything for them. Anyway, I get a good dog fix in West Bay. The Ellipse cafe even provides water bowls for dogs and sells dog biscuits at the counter along with the human goodies!        

very gorgeous gordon setter (that's the breed, not his name!)
We had a bit of a walk on the Friday and more walking on Saturday. My favourite type of weather; bright and sunny but cold enough to make your cheeks rosy and your nose run.

Mark and me
 The sea could not have been more different to our last visit - no crashing waves, just deep blue stillness. Very calming.

gulls perching on a rock at West Bay

sea as still as a mill pond
 The air was so clear that Lyme Regis looked like it was almost close enough to touch.

view of Lyme from West Bay

looking towards Devon from West Bay
From the esplanade, the chimneys of one of the houses beside the cliff path looked like they could be poking out of a hobbit hole...sadly they weren't.
I was wondering whether other countries have a tradition of memorial benches? Here people buy benches to be put in nice public spaces, often somewhere that was important to a loved one who has passed away, and they include a plaque to remember the person, and on anniversaries leave flowers and ribbons on the bench. Is this just a British thing?

 We went to visit the sub-tropical gardens at Abbotsbury. At this time of year the gardens are flood-lit in the evening and the trees are decked with Halloween ghouls, ghosts and goblins. We didn't get a chance to visit in the evening, but enjoyed the display, even though it was daylight.

tree ghost

Dogs are allowed in the gardens, but must be kept on a lead. One couple of careless dog-owners let their dog run off the lead and the staff had to rescue guinea-fowl he was chasing. Some people are so thoughtless - the gardens are teaming with wildlife, particularly pheasants.

handsome pheasant
 I love the shape the wind trains the trees in - and here behind the tree you can see Lyme Regis the other side of Lyme Bay.

view of Lyme Regis from Abbotsbury
The Abbotsbury road follows the coast and provides wonderful views of the Chesil beach. The sub-tropical gardens includes a steep path up to a viewing spot, from where you can admire the coastline beyond. There are also canons up there - for keeping pirates at bay??

the Chesil beach

Mark (aka Johnny-no-mates)

path to coast view

This little area of woodland near the viewing spot reminds me of Swedish's the light and shade I think.

view towards Golden Cap and Lyme Regis
 The gardens are looking really Autumnal.

Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens


pumpkin lantern

lantern catches the light

 It will be no surprise to hear that Mark and I felt obliged to have a cup of tea in the gardens tea room.

sub-tropical gardens tea rooms

 We made a friend...

robin waits for titbits (or should that be robin-bits?)
...but I don't think he appreciated our only having tea with no cake to share...

He soon left in disgust!


  1. I think you should - write a tea shop guide, that is. But it's also ok if you just give us a very thorough and personal guided tour in March.... ;-)

    Lovely photos - a real trip down memory lane for me!

  2. Perhaps I will write a guide! Do remember you are only here for a weekend in March - if you want to visit every tea shop in the area, you will need at least a month!

  3. themump-grump dog had a cystitis-sort of problem, with not being acid enough - vet recommended adding 1 or 2 tbsp cider vinegar to each bowl of her food....

    1. does the mump-grump dog still eat the food when it is laced with vinegar? I would have thought the taste/smell would be off-putting...but the cats are starting to get bored with their new food, so it might be worth a go.

  4. Brilliant - as ever, made me smile! From (Mental) Karen and James x (not anonymous, but I couldn't work out how to add my name!!)PS - YES re the T-shop guide, and combine it with your craft work. I'll help you with your research!

    1. Thanks Karen - and thank you for a lovely day in Bath!