:: DAY 4 ::
Visiting the beautiful Subtropical Gardens at Abbotsbury has become something of an annual ritual for us. It's one of those places that happily pleases all five members of the Attic clan and delivers a good dose of fresh air, gentle exercise and happy family time.
The gardens are set in 20 acres, a mixture of heavily wooded areas, densely planted areas, and neat enclosed lawny areas. Lots of trees, lots of plants and some picturesque watery bits. I loved this break in the trees (and these were some mega-big gigantic trees) offering a glimpse of the
As is our usual routine, we made our way slowly up the Magnolia Walk to the view point at the top of the hill to see the sweep of Chesil beach laid out below. There are benches up here, and it makes for a very scenic picnic spot, oh I do love to eat my lunch with a sea view.
Winding pathways, walkways, steps, bridges, pavilions, ponds and
sculpture make it interesting to explore, even when you've been here a few times before. These willow deer were new this year and looked lovely in the dappled sunlight.
We all love the scale of these gardens. So much of the planting is extremely mature (ie ancient) and enormous in size. Giant bamboos, humongous tree ferns, extraordinarily tall trees and outlandishly large leaves towered and swayed above our heads.
In the middle of the gardens there is a series of small ponds, streams, waterfalls and bridges. It is very picturesque and would have been very tranquil if it weren't for my three Little People running and yelling all over the place. They expended a lot of energy trip trapping at speed over this little red wooden bridge. To the mature couple who were sat on a nearby bench hoping for a peaceful outlook, I guess we totally ruined it for you, sorry.
It was lovely to see lots of butterflies fluttering about the place, and I had fun trying to identify them with my newly acquired Butterfly Knowledge. Aside from the usual suspects, we saw a Speckled Wood and this pretty Fritillary, although I'm not sure quite what sort of Fritillary it was as it refused to show us the underside of it's wings, naughty thing.
We spent a long time here feeding the huge fish. It made Little B squeal with excited shock when one came unexpectedly right up to the surface and nibbled food straight from his fingers. The fish ponds are fairly near the end of the trail, so after the nibbling and squealing it was a short jaunt through the Mediterranean gardens and back around to The Colonial Restaurant for a refreshment stop. Coffee and cake for the grown ups (the most scrumptious slab of coffee and walnut cake, just so you can picture it), juice and homemade cookies for the Little People. Then the obligatory final stop at the children's play area (the slide here is pretty super-duper, being built into the side of a small hill and therefore unusually high/long).
We trooped out of the gardens in the sunny warmth of the late afternoon, then went back to base to pack up the evening meal................
....which was to be a beach barbecue (my turn to squeal with delight!) I just love love love (lovelovelove) to do this thing with my family, and each year it turns out to be one of my best-most-favourite bits of my whole holiday (it was Little B's best bit too, he told me this very morning, bless).
We choose Eype beach always. It is a very special kind of a place, a completely unspoilt pebble beach with zero facilities. Just beach and pebbles and cliff and sky, with a smattering of other like minded people dotted about. And fishermen. Always fishermen. It is super peaceful and very relaxing here, and the most brilliant place to witness the close of day. As usual, we carted a whole load of baggage down onto the beach from the car via the steep steps down from the cliff top, but it is always worth it. My job is to put up our beach tent and see to the blankets, and J's job is to make fire. That man loves bbq cooking, and I am more than happy to leave this job to him. All I have to do is see to the bread products, condiments and accompaniments, oh and the drinkies.....
...oooooooooo-mmmmmmmm my favourite bubbly tipple! As we were joined here by my Dad and Lady B, we splashed out and bought fizz. It was such a delightful way to spend time, honestly, I can't tell you how happy I felt. Chatting with family, watching the LP play, sipping cold prosecco, inhaling the scent of charcoal and sizzling burgers, listening to the sound of the waves and watching the ever changing sky. Excellent, on all levels.
Actually, we had a weeny bit of a setback with the charcoal and sizzling thing, in that the charcoal didn't really light very well and the sizzling was very short lived. Luckily, J (who was clearly driven by hunger) refused to give in and sent the Little People off on an emergency driftwood gathering mission. They came back with a plentiful supply of dry wood and J used his impressive man-makes-fire skills to get the whole show back on the road. So our Aberdeen Angus burgers were a little late getting to the bread rolls, but oh my, they tasted absolutely, incredibly DEeeeeeeelicious, with a wonderful wood-smoke flavour. A very memorable meal for sure.
Combine the sky/clouds/light with the sight and sound of the sea and I am in heaven. I could honestly sit and gaze and contemplate for hours, I love the way I can totally feel my whole body and soul breathe out and unwind when I am beside the sea.
.......sigh. Such gorgeousness. We were on the beach for about five hours that evening, staying until it was dark and the first stars were twinkling above. Note to self :: next time, bring a torch. It was rather tricksy packing up the tent in the dark, not to mention the walk back along the beach and up the side of the cliff.
I made my wish upon a star (does anyone else do this?) and I am hoping, hoping my wish will come true. I'll let you know in due course xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx