Right, back home now from our last trip of the year and Patsy is being emptied out for the winter. I was planning to get another blog sent but whilst we were away but, well, best laid plans, or more accurately a dose of CBA (can’t be arsed) put paid to that idea!
Hopefully, those of you on the email list all got the last blog. Having sent them all out Tuesday night, over two thirds came back with various errors. It took several further attempts until the error messages ceased. Something to do with the sites tenuous unsecured Wi-Fi link? Who knows? Anyway it was sorted in the end and we adjourned to the nearest local boozer - called ‘The Silent Woman’ no less - yeah, I know, too easy - for a couple of very nice pints of Badgers ale in front of a roaring wood fire. Lovely.
Wednesday, and we headed west and, continuing our unofficial tour of British seaside resorts arrived at Bournemouth. Much bigger then either of us imagined Bournemouth shares many similarities with dear old Brighton. By day, pensioners browses the shops and inhabit the coffee houses whilst delegates attend meetings. By night the bars and nightclubs are vying for business from the large student population, enjoying, or at least enduring the patronage of hen and stag parties at the weekend. Another similarity is parking. The local council have got it tied up just as tight as they have in Brighton and it took a little hunting to find somewhere reasonable.
It’s quite an attractive place, very clean and tidy with some well kept gardens and a renovated pier. In one of the gardens was a massive tethered hot air balloon promising fantastic views – had it been operating. Funiculars carry punters from the east and west cliffs right down to the beach, although clearly not in the winter. What does still work in the winter is the large manmade reef out in the bay, built to create a better surf. The waves were pretty innocuous when we were there but that didn’t stop one hardy soul from riding the waves and making a pretty good job of it too. It may have been more luck than judgement but I got some really good pictures of him in action too from our vantage point on the pier. So, another similarity with Brighton – men in black rubber……
We joined the grey army for tea and pastries in one of the department stores cafe’s then had a bit of a drive around Boscombe to the east before heading back to base. The aforementioned pastries didn’t really hit the spot so we decided on an early tea and fired up the BBQ. Trev done the veg indoors whilst I took care of the meat outside. A nice warming real ale helped keep out the cold whilst cooking.
Thursday, and rain was promised at some point during the day so our plans were a bit loose, heading first down to the Isle of Purbeck. Not an island obviously – that would be too simple – but a peninsular at the eastern end of the Jurassic coast. First up was Swanage, a pretty little seaside resort right on the south eastern tip. Right away we liked it – it just had that nice look and feel – a sandy beach, promenade, a little Victorian pier and a quaint town with some VERY inviting looking pubs although it was too early, even for us. It was very clean and tidy, and obviously at this time of year, largely empty of tourists although one can only imagine how busy it gets in the summer – a decent one anyway. The pier has been restored and little brass plaques set in to the boards give the names of those who have contributed to it’s restoration.
Next up and with the rain now threatening we drove north across Studland Heath to the northern tip of the Isle of Purbeck and the start of Poole Harbour. A chain ferry runs across from here to Sandbanks on the other side saving some 20 odd miles if you want to get to the other side. I’d already checked to find that it wasn’t running but it would have made for a nice circular route.
Lunchtime was beckoning, but the rain held off so we stopped at Corfe Castle and the lovely haunting ruins. In fact the village is just as pretty too. More inviting pubs here but we resisted. The bakers was the only retail outlet here to benefit from our patronage.
With a brief return to Patsy for sarnies we headed out again in search of the deserted village of Tyneham. I have to confess we got a bit lost as the village is no longer signposted – or it wasn’t on any of the signs we came across anyway. The roads got narrower, steeper and muddier but we did eventually come across the right road only to find that it was closed. A large part of this area is now used by the armed forces as a firing range and roads are closed at various times for safety reasons. In fact the night before we heard a number of loud retorts coming from the depths of the forest and wondered if war had broken out, although it was more likely the local pik – sorry, our traveller friends from down the road after rabbits. Anyway, it wasn’t a major disappointment as we turned tail and pressed on to Lulworth cove but pausing only briefly as the weather closed in. The contingency plan was put in to action – to Weymouth and an afternoon at the cinema. A decision that proved to be right one as the heavens had clearly opened whilst we’d been inside. The journey back to Patsy was hard enough work with the rain falling and the wind howling, not helped by the fact that I took a wrong turning and got stuck behind a tractor along it seemed with half of Dorset. We decided against getting the bbq out…..
Stand by for the 3rd and final part to follow very shortly…….