Monday, July 30, 2012

The Beach, the Train, and the Castle

We did go down to the beach on Wednesday. Fortunately there were folding chairs and a beach umbrella at the house so we trekked down the hill to the less populated end of the beach.

The day was hot and sunny and the water was bottle green, clearer than I've ever seen it and cold!

It was also incredibly flat - there was no chop and hardly any swell (and I think most of that was caused by the motor boats whizzing back and forth just outside the swimming area). I could just float on my back and bob gently, looking up at the amazingly blue sky. All in all a lovely afternoon.

That night Evie came down on the train after work and we picked her up at Wareham station.

Thursday was the day we had all been looking forward to. Every time we go to Swanage we take the steam train to Corfe Castle.

Corfe is a bit like a fairytale village - old stone houses, charming little train station, and atmospheric ruins. It's one of my favourite places in Britain.

There were several exhibitors at the castle. The large rectangle on the left had a gentleman in Victorian dress talking about travel in the 19th century, a table with children making mosaics and a woman showing spectators how to spin and weave. At the small yellow tent on the left a man was making knives, spoons and jewelry on a tiny bronze age forge, while on the right a woman sold jewelry inspired by bronze age archaeological finds and a man sold handmade pottery. I bought a bronze necklace and a pottery mug.

We have been at the castle when it's foggy, raining and windy enough to blow us off the top, but this was perfect.

We had another cream tea while we were in Corfe

which was only slightly marred by the presence of fruit scones rather than plain.

I even managed to get David and Evie to be silly for me (Evie getting into the spirit of it and David very reluctantly).

We were very sad to pack up and leave on Friday. We had the best week there ever.

We did stop at Worth Matravers for one more cream tea before we left Dorset though.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside

We are halfway through the first week of our 3-week holiday in England and after all the dire predictions, and the news that it had been the wettest summer on record, we've had four of the most beautiful days I can remember in England, let alone at the seaside. For the first week we are staying at Swanage in Dorset, our traditional summer holiday spot. We first came the summer of 1991 when Evie was a baby and visited almost every year until 2003, although we almost always came in the autumn or spring when it's much cheaper.

Originally we were going to be sharing a house with David's brother Geoffrey and his family but they had to cancel their trip so we're rattling round in a rather bigger place than we are used to. It's up on the cliff overlooking the sea in one direction (there was a boat race on Saturday),

with a view to the beach and town in another.

Swanage has a very nice beach, with lovely sand (especially by British standards) but as you can see, it's very crowded this time of year, particularly down at the town end. The house we are renting is near the end of the line of houses up on the hill leading toward Ballard Down.

A Punch and Judy show is a must at the seaside in Britain.

As are bathing huts. One of these years we'll have to rent one of these while we are here.

Our first night we had fish & chips down by the water in town.

And the next day our first cream tea of the summer. For those unfortunate enough to have never had a cream tea, this involves a pot of tea (or coffee), scones, jam and clotted cream. As cream teas go this one was adequate. For a really excellent cream tea you need generous helpings of jam (usually strawberry) and cream and fresh, fluffy but solid scones. The serving of cream was generous, the jam less so, and the scones a little too crumbly and not as fresh as they could have been. Nevertheless as it was the first we've had in some time we enjoyed it very much.

Today we took a boat around Ballard Down to see the Pinnacle and Old Harry's rocks. Although we've been coming here for years for some reason we'd never done the boat rides. It was really interesting to see the bay from the water, and then to see the cliffs from the bottom. The down is chalk and originally (thousands/millions of years ago) connected with the Isle of Wight which, on a very clear day, you can see from here.

The rock on the far right is Old Harry, apparently named after a local pirate.

When we were finished we were feeling the need for another cream tea so we took advice, drove inland to Worth Matravers, and found this--
where we had this...
Out here...
looking at this...

Nice, huh?

Tomorrow we will probably brave the sea down at this end of the beach, where it's not so crowded. Although the weather's gorgeous and around 25C (77F) the water's not going to be warm. But it would be a little ridiculous to come to the seaside and not take at least a little dip, and I have a new bathing costume!


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