DAY 1 weather report :: heavy grey skies, chilly and blustery.
We awoke to very unsummery weather on the first day of our Dorset holiday. Nevertheless, we still made our customary first-morning-of-the-holiday visit to the sea.
We wrapped up warm and went for a bracing walk out along the pier. Well that's to say that J and I walked. The Little Peeps did speedy things on their scooters and Little B ran his little legs off.
We stood at the end of the pier and watched as a fishing boat sailed into harbour over the choppy grey sea with a cloud of seagulls following in it's wake. It felt quite exciting to witness real bonafide fisherman in action.
I must have walked around this little harbour a gazillion times in my lifetime, and it never, ever, ever fails to lift my spirits. As a child it was all about the taste of mint choc chip icecream. As an adult it's all about the colour of the boats. This little turquoise boat (my Ultimate Favorite Colour of All Time) with it's pinky orange buoys made me swoon.
DAY 2 weather report :: a brighter sky but still quite chilly and breezy.
We headed out to Stonebarrow Hill to view the views and eat a picnic lunch.
The Little People went off exploring nearby and came running back to tell us about the wonderful trees they had found to climb. We followed them into the woods and watched as they climbed and nested themselves proudly in the branches.
Through the woods and out the other side was a huge bramble patch with a narrow pathway running through it. The blackberries were just coming ripe and as they were growing near to the ground they were easily picked by small hands.
We filled a tin mug with glossy black fruits, a small but very delicious harvest.
I love coastal views so much, to me they are the best kind of views imaginable. The colours of sea-meeting-sky does wonderful things to my inner self. Kind of a schizophrenic mixture of complete calm coupled with crazy excitement. And then there is the smell of salty fresh air, the feeling that one's body is being filled to the brim with something intoxicating and wholesome and good.
DAY 3 weather report :: rain, rain and more rain. Buckets of it threw down from leaden skies in a torrential downpour.
Our planned beach picnic with family was cancelled. We set ourselves up for a day of indoor recreation.
My indoor activity of choice is pretty obvious. I sat in my jammies on the bed listening to the rain hammering against the window and lost myself in soothing sea-coloured ripples. The morning was not exactly peaceful (the Little People were at Full Volume for some reason) and there was a slight tense, cooped up kind of stress-vibe hanging about the place but it wasn't too bad.
Miraculously, the weather made an incredible about turn by the end of the morning and we hastily re-scheduled our beachy picnic plans. It was still really windy mind you, but our trusty windbreak was pulled out of the car and pressed into service. We hunkered down behind it and enjoyed a really lovely outdoor lunch.
High Winds make High Seas, and the waves came crashing into shore.
We were here with my sister-in-law and two nephews who love the sea as much as we do. We sat for a long while as near to the water as we could get, enjoying the salty sea spray making our faces wet. Little B absolutely loved it. He kept laughing to himself every time a wave crashed in. He picked up handfuls of shingle and hurled it at the sea. It was a really lovely, simple, pleasurable way to spend an afternoon.
DAY 4 weather report :: heavy rain through the night, a day of unpredictable sunshine and showers.
The morning of day 4 was spent in Bridport. Visiting the toy shop in Bridport is now a holiday ritual of ours, the LP get very over excited with this particular bit of our Dorset holidays. This year was no exception. We also had Little B to contend with this year though, and to say he loved the toyshop would be a huge understatement. He went completely crazy over an extensive display of plastic ride-on vehicles, he absolutely couldn't believe his little eyes. Unfortunately when we had to remove him from the display it caused a humongous meltdown. It was impressive, the full works. It would've been quite stressy/embarrassing if it hadn't been so funny. His little body was so full of indignant rage at being physically removed from a source of pleasure, he was rigid with anger. Poor wee mite. How unfair to have such killjoy parents.
After a very lovely pub lunch with family, Little Lady and I skipped off together to visit Bridport Arts Centre to see a touring exhibition. As you can see, it was an exhibition of the Knitty Variety, and it was completely fabulous!! I took lots of pictures so will write about it in a separate post I think, it deserves it's own write-up.
Mid afternoon on day 4 and the weather was suddenly incredible. Warm, bright, sunny and perfectly summerish. We headed down to West Bay to meet with my sister-in-law and two nephews for a spot of crabbing.
Oddly enough we have never thought to try our hand at crabbing before, but my sis-in-law had it all in hand. She had The Kit. And she knew just where to go and what to do with it.
The kit consists of a crabbing net on a long line and some very stinky dead sealife to act as bait. You choose your spot and lower the net carefully over the harbour wall until it touches the sandy bottom and you wait. You wait until you think you'll burst with impatience. Then you haul the net up and hope for A Successful Catch.
A Successful Catch causes much squealing and cheering, it's surprisingly exciting to catch a crab. After The Catch you then have to transfer the crab from the net to a clear crabbing bucket. You then get to watch the crab Close Up. And you also get to show it off to many passers by who all want to share your Successful Catch with you.
You repeat this process as many times as you need to in order to satisfy four Little People who all want to have a go at hauling in a Successful Catch. Seven crabs were caught in all, seven crabs were admired, and seven crabs were released back into the harbour to enjoy the rest of their day.
After all the excitement of the crabbing experience we headed further round the harbour for icecream/cappuccino refreshments. You can see how stormy the sky still looks in the distance, I think we were really lucky with our patch of summer sunshine on this day.
DAY 5 weather report:: blue skies with sunshine, breezy winds and skuddy clouds.
In the morning we drove up to one of our much-loved high up places to take in the expansive skies and breathe in the fresh country air.
Driving down from the High Hill I spotted these gorgeous flowers. They were sitting in a jug on a table outside a picturesque thatched cottage so I yelled at J to swing the car in to the hedge, then leapt out to investigate. There were bags of green beans, plums and apples for sale, as well as these beautiful garden flowers. I was totally bowled over by them and bought all three bunches :: orange and pink dahlias and a bunch of sweet peas. I popped the required £2.40 into the jam jar by way of payment and skipped back to the car with a broad grin on my face. As we were on the way to visit my Mum, I gave the sweet peas to her and kept the dahlias for myself.
This is my Mum's cottage, a simple two-up-two-down with an abundant front garden. My poor Mum was complaining at the state of it, that due to her spell in hospital it had all gone "to wrack and ruin", but to me it looked absolutely beautiful.
The cottage sits in an idyllic spot beside a small river where trout jump. We like it here. A lot. We ate a lovely lunch of soup and crusty bread, followed by mugs of tea and Dorset shortbread. Have to say it was completely wonderful to find my Mum looking so well and in such good spirits. She's making a remarkable recovery and spending time with her this holiday was very positive, happy and heart-lifting. So different to the feelings that dogged me through the early summer when she was so dreadfully close to slipping away. Thank goodness. Thank goodness.
Later that afternoon we headed back to the coast to meet with my brother and his family at the campsite they were staying at. What a campsite it is, it's hhhhhhhhhhhhhuge. Mahooosive. Hundreds and hundreds of tents. Hoards of people, kids, dogs. It was ever so slightly mental in my opinion. The location though is unbeatable, it has access to a lovely unspoilt stretch of Chesil Beach. More big crashing waves and salty air to enjoy, followed by a dinner of chips at "The Jurassic Fun Centre". Mmmmmm.
DAY 6 weather report :: an amazing sunrise promising a fine summers day ahead.
Our last day, and we managed to rally a whole family get together. Eight adults and five children. 10.30am at The Watch House cafe on East Beach for coffee and cake.
Thanks to Joey who's lovely blog I recently discovered, I learnt that this once rather shabby and fairly rubbish cafe has now been taken over by the same folks who have The Hive at Burton which I adore. What a vast improvement! Fresh and delicious coffee, homemade cakes and an inspiring food menu. Not to mention the location (perfect for the LP to play in the shingle while the adults sit on the terrace).
The interior is simple, fresh and charming. Large unadorned windows, whitewashed walls with blue tongue and groove below, checked table cloths, wooden chairs, strings of colourful fabric bunting and some delightful artwork on the walls (Joey it looked wonderful!).
And the view from the terrace over the top of a frothy cappuccino??? Fabulous of course.
We decamped from the cafe to the pub (with a spot of crabbing in between) and enjoyed a wonderful family lunch. There's my lunch look :: a heap of crispy whitebait served with warm granary bread, homemade tartare sauce and a salad. A glass of chilled white wine to the side. It was deeeeeeeelish.
So that about sums up our time away....it looks and sounds delightful when I see the images and let the words flow. And mostly it was really good, yes it was.
There were a number of quite stressful times though, most of which revolved around Little B. At 20 months old it can be quite difficult to accommodate him easily in certain situations ie, lengthy cafe/pub sessions where he understandably gets bored. It was also hard work spending time at other peoples houses where they are not used to having small children about the place. Houses with a huge number of precious/breakable objects all at Little B's level. It was blooming hard work keeping a check on what he was up to in this sort of environment. He broke a few things, smashed a plate, ripped a book. You get the picture.
J found it all very trying and it led to a few heated discussions about the nature of our family holidays these days where there is no time to actually r-e-l-a-x. What can you say to that? He is quite right in many ways, taking three young children on holiday IS hard work. It's not relaxing. It's tiring and stressful at times. But maybe he's losing sight of the good things they bring to the proceedings. Their excitement, enthusiasm, zest for life, energy and discovery that is such a joy to be a part of. Maybe I'm just more used to the limitations and frustrations of daily life spent with Little Peeps. Maybe I'm just more accepting of the Way It Is. Who knows.
Ah well. I'm not wishing to sound down hearted about the holiday. It was lovely to spend time with my family, and that for me was the most important reason for being there. To reconnect with loved ones and to touch base with a place that holds my heart. I'm already looking forward to next time.