If you were bobbing into the Attic to see me last summer, then these photos will probably look remarkably familiar to you today. I've been reading through last summers travelogue, and the pictures are freakily similar to this years. I am often amazed at the striking repetitiveness that occurs in my life year after year, it is quite comforting and reassuring somehow. As with any family with young children, we experience constant change and growth, and yet at the same time so much about us also remains the same.
Pretty much every single holiday we take in Dorset begins the same way :: a 300 mile, 5 hour journey, arriving just before midnight. A quick chat with my Dad before ushering us all straight upstairs and into bed, so that we'll be ready to hit the ground running the next day. And of course, on that very first morning we always run straight to the nearest bit of sea, which thankfully happens to be a mere 10 minute car drive from our holiday home my Dad's house.
:: DAY 1 ::
This is the harbour at West Bay where I spent the first ten years of my childhood holidaying with Grandparents (we lived in London then) and the second ten years of my childhood living and growing up. Followed by another twenty four years returning for visits from wherever I happened to be living at the time. It is so completely familiar to me, so very much a part of me, that I find I have very strong emotions when I arrive back in this patch of England. My heart kind of does a big swell, and then settles back into a warm fuzzy state of fluffiness. I am home. Warm fuzzy fluffy feelings and a deep contentment.
We were here on a Saturday morning, pottering around the harbour, making sure it was still pretty much the same as last time (it was). It was a busy Bank Holiday Weekend with crowds to match, but it was ok, it still felt good to be there.
It was mid morning, and the plan was to head straight for the Watchhouse Café on the beach for a spot of brunch. J and the Little People all had meat-filled breakfast rolls, but I opted for the Happy Campers breakfast which consisted of two perfectly poached eggs on granary toast. Add a very good frothy coffee to the above, along with a sea view and you can picture me in a state of bliss can't you?
Coming out of the café in full holiday mode, it was declared to be ice cream time, much to the delight of the Little People. Around the harbour we went, to call at one of the Snack Shacks for the Very Good Stuff made with real Cornish cream.....
The weather on this day was warm, bright and breezy, with sunshine and fast scudding clouds. It was just right for sitting on the beach listening to the waves crashing in on the shore.
I never tire of this beach.
I love love love these sort of pebbles. I love to look at them (so many variations), love to pick them up and feel their smooth weight in my hand. And I love the word "pebble" too, it makes me want to laugh out loud when I say it for some weird reason. Pebble. Ha!!!!!
Whilst playing with the pebbles, I had a very vivid memory of collecting these perfectly smooth and delightful little objects and painting patterns on them when I was a child. I had a sudden urge to do it all over again, so I trawled through my bag and managed to unearth a coloured pencil stick. Not quite the same as a little set of watercolour paints, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway, Little B and I.
I'm not sure how long we stayed on the beach, maybe an hour or so? But eventually the Little Peeps began to get restless and we decided to walk back around the harbour to visit West Bay's rather fabulous play area.....
.....as you can see, it was pretty busy, but it is beautifully designed and there is plenty here to keep kids of all ages happy and entertained.
This was the view to the right of the play area, and it was lovely to be able to sit a while on a sun warmed wooden bench and gaze out at the summer hills while the Little People played.
Oh look, we're in Mum's kitchen now, we've arrived for afternoon tea and biscuits. I love my Mum's place, the cottage has an incredibly warm, cosy, friendly vibe. It's a tiny little two-up-two-down dwelling, but there is also this really handy lean-to addition to one side of the kitchen...
....I think this might be one of my favourite bits of the cottage, kind of a cross between a porch, greenhouse and utility room. It even has a thriving olive tree growing in it, how cool is that? I have always had a fascination with utility rooms (oh how I would love one of my own!), yet I have no idea why they appeal to me so much. I fear I am rather odd.
This is the view from the porch door, looking out to the small area of garden at the back of the cottage beside the little river. I love it very much, it's a truly beautiful and peaceful place to be.
:: DAY 2 ::
Sometimes holidays can feel very go-go-go and that was true for us some of the time last week. In the morning we went to spend time with my Mum, as unexpectedly my brother and his family had landed in town. They had made a spontaneous decision to take a detour at the end of their camping holiday to come and spend a few days with us, which was lovely news. It's not often that my Mum gets to see us all together, it was maybe a tad overwhelming?! Our two families crowded into her small cottage, filling the space with five lively children, one boisterous dog, and four chattering adults all catching up on news. There was lots of noise, but it was all good. Eventually we left her in peace and headed back down to West Bay where my brother and his family were staying at the holiday park there. A quick picnic lunch, then off out again for an afternoon of concentrated activity......
.....crabbing! Yeah, we were at it again, doing that weird thing that people like to do beside the sea. I find the whole business of crabbing rather odd (it was never a part of my childhood), but the Little People absolutely love it. As does my sister in law and nephews, gosh, they really, really get into the whole crabbing thing. I don't have a competitive bone in my body (in fact, I actually have anti-competitive bones) so the idea of Competitive Crabbing just makes me want to snort with disbelief. But it really does happen I can tell you, it all of a sudden becomes quite a contest.
But anyhoooo, competetiveness aside, a number of crabs were indeed caught, scrutinised, then released back into the sea unharmed. There was the trauma of a net being dropped into the harbour (my brother climbed down the ladder to rescue it, good man), and a broken bait-spring (my brother was sent off to purchase a replacement net, he sure earned that pint) and a good time was had by all.
I took a break from the crabbing at one point, and went off for a little wander along the pier.
Along the pier and down onto the sand for a short pootle along the shore line. Lovely. I hoped that the crabbing would be nearly over when I returned, and thankfully by the time I wandered back, I was told that Little Tummies were rumbling and it was time to go in search of food. Which could only mean one thing......
....chips of course. Hot, fragrant fluffy chips dowsed in loads of salt and vinegar and eaten with fingers with the sound of the waves in your ears. Mmmm mmmm.
We sat on West Beach with our backs leaning against the sea wall and ate greedily, licking our fingers and nom-nomming our way through that deliciously naughty meal. Oh so good.
The early evening light was soft and golden.....
....and very beautiful. What a lovely start to our week.
:: DAY 3 ::
We woke to another warm, sunny day and after a quick family discussion it was decided that we would pack up a picnic lunch and head out for a day on the beach. We chose to go a few miles further along the coast, to the beach at Burton Bradstock. I love it there, well we all do, it suits us very well as a family. You can park the car right next to the beach so there isn't very far to carry all the beaching paraphernalia. There are toilets and there is an ice cream parlour, and there is also my best-most-favourite refreshment stop, The Hive Beach Café. I really, really love that café. The atmosphere is just so relaxed and happy, the coffee is always great, and the whole set-up makes me feel on top of the world. This year they had extended the outdoor seating to create a stunning, partially covered terrace on the edge of the cliff. It is kind of half tent, half marquee, but with open sides to take in the magnificent sea view. The tent is strung with coloured paper lanterns and coloured lights, and the chunky wooden tables are decorated with silver pots of lavender. It really is lovely, and provided a great start to our beach day.
There were already plenty of people on the beach when we arrived mid morning, and the atmosphere was jolly and holidayish.
We had our full beach kit with us and got straight down to the business of Making Camp. I really enjoy putting up our beach tent, it makes me feel like we are all set to stay for hours and hours if we have made camp. I decked it out with plenty of blankets and it set the scene for Lengthy Loafing. Bliss.
As we've had such a terrific "proper" warm summer here in the UK this year, the sea was a tad above it's usual freeeeeezing temperature and lots and lots of people were swimming. Personally, I am not one of life's swimmers. I am strictly a paddler. I did roll my crop trousers right up though, and paddled well over my knees (not actually by choice, but you know, those pesky waves can get you), and much to Little B's delight we held hands and did wave jumping and splashing about for ages and ages. Little B loved it. He laughed and laughed and squealed and shrieked and jumped and splashed and had a ball.
Little Lady too, she was right in there, straight into the sea, no messing. She was very sweet with her Little Brother, and kept his little hand tight in hers to keep him safe whilst I pootled about taking photographs.
We stayed at the beach until the very late afternoon, then rather reluctantly packed up to head back into town, as Lady B was cooking dinner for us.
Oh look, I am standing on Lady B's private beach! No, no, she doesn't live by the sea, but she has created a rather charming alternative to a patio outside her back door, which the Little People love. It gives them a whole lot of pleasure to go beachcombing here, but thank goodness Little B has grown out of scooping up handfuls and sneakily throwing it into the bird bath.
This is Lady B's incredible little walled oasis right in the centre of town, it is a gem of a garden and never fails to make me happy. It has an appealing "natural" feel, being ever so slightly left to it's own devices but with an abundance of clever and careful planting. In Spring, the flower beds are awash with wild bluebells that have self sown over the years, and in summer, a carpet of wild strawberries takes over. It is a very warm and sheltered spot, can you see over on the right hand side, scrambling across the old stone wall? Look..............
.....oooh a beautiful grape vine, dripping with real, gorgeously fruity looking grapes!
We enjoyed a lovely meal with my Dad and Lady B, with chilled white wine and lots of chatter and laughter, then coffee and chocolate sat outside in the last of the evening sun. Another beautiful day.....but what shall we do tomorrow? Shall we maybe re-visit the Subtropical Gardens at Abbotsbury? Sounds good? Ok, see you then.....