Last week when we were in Dorset the weather was very mixed. In fact, it was a week of two halves, with the first half being pretty grim (think thick fog, drizzle, rain, blustery, cold, damp, wet, and grey) and the second half being pretty good (think blustery, showery, sunny, cold, warm, blue, light and bright). We took it all in our stride, venturing out each and every day to appreciate the joys of being at the coast no matter what the weather was playing at.
The first morning saw us take our traditional first visit to West Bay, to walk in the footsteps of my childhood, eat a scrummy late breakfast at my favourite Watch House café and breathe in the delicious fresh, salty sea air. It was cold, windy and very grey with a thick, damp fog hanging low over the landscape, but oh how I loved it! We walked around the foggy harbour, then out along the windswept pier and filled our lungs with gulps of fresh air.
The sea was rough with pounding waves and flying sea spray, the very sound of the waves filled my ears and stole our words away.
I love the sea on a sunny day when it offers up multiple shades of bluey-greens for me to lose myself in, but the greys do have a certain appeal. The seascape was wild and fresh and damp and salty and made my heart swell with nostalgia.
The following day was much the same weather wise but once again we wrapped up and ventured out, this time to the deserted beach at Burton.
More wild seas and huge waves, it was very atmospheric.
I loved that the Little People embraced the weather without question, happy to walk along the shoreline into the force of the wind, bending over to pick up shells and pebbles, chatting the whole way. It was certainly fresh. And by that, I mean cold! Only one thing for it.....
....retreat to the cosy warmth of the Hive beach café for vital refreshments. Both the coffee and the carrot cake are seriously delicious here and I always look forward to it very much. Suitably refreshed, we drove further up the coast paying a quick visit to Abbotsbury children's farm. Last time we were in Dorset we invested in an annual pass so we took advantage. Because of the dreadful weather (full-on rain by this time) the farm was extremely quiet, but it suited us just fine. We went to say hello to the barn full of guinea pigs, ooohed and ahhhed over the baby goats, then went into the beautiful old tithe barn to let the Little Peeps run wild. It's a great play area, and even Little Man seemed to enjoy it, helping his little brother to construct a fortress out of giant foam blocks.
In many ways, the wet weather suited us in those first few days. We were able to visit family, cosy up in cafés, treat ourselves to lunch out and take some short walks, but the time spent back at the house was very pleasurable. It allowed us to relax and unwind and spend time together as a family. There is no television at the house, but the Little Peeps all have gaming gadgetry, and for once we didn't limit their screen time. They seemed to naturally do that for themselves, gaming on screen for a bit before abandoning the technology and gaming together in real life. Noisy bouts of hide-and-seek and I-spy, tig and den building. There was lego too, reading and painting. I was mostly to be found sitting in the old chair beside the patio window losing myself in those addictive ripples. Delicious.
At the end of the third day, we noticed the weather suddenly change. The fog finally lifted and the strong breezes began to blow the heavy rain clouds away.
This is the view out of my bedroom window, and I say "my" bedroom as it was the room I grew up in as a child. That view is so familiar to me, so much a part of who I am that when I am on holiday I spend a lot of time stood at the window drinking it in. It's rather lovely to be able to sleep in my old room again when we stay, and I particularly love to hear the seagulls calling. I miss that familiar sound a lot when I am back home in Yorkshire.
This was Tuesday last week, and really I have to tell you it was one of the most perfect days. We decided to do what we did two years ago and divide the family in two :: the boys and the girls. The boys went off to Bovington Tank Museum (yaaaawwwn) and us girls took the Jurrasic Coastliner bus to Lyme Regis (yipeeeeee!)
I was soooo excited to be back in one of my all time most favourite places ever-ever, and also really happy to be sharing the day with Little Lady. She is terrific company, easy going and funny, and we were both jigging with happiness that day.
Lyme is such a visual treat, it is full of beauty and colour everywhere you look. I find the whole atmosphere of the place captivating, it just makes me feel full to the brim with happiness the whole time I'm there.
It is a pastel-colour-lovers dream (Vanessa, I'm looking at you!), with lots of buildings (and beach huts) painted in deliciously soft and enticing ice cream shades.
The weather on this day was bright and breezy with plenty of sunshine and big fluffy clouds. We walked along the promenade, taking in the glorious sea views before getting down to some girly retail therapy.
I love to meander down these quiet little back streets where I know there are some divine shops filled with all sorts of gorgeousness. The memories of previous visits makes me almost hyperventilate with anticipation and I am not disappointed with what I find (remember my button jug and wooden caravan?).
I dearly love it when houses are colour-painted like this, what a visual treat! I think every town should have at least one block of colourful houses to brighten up the view.
I couldn't resist buying myself my very own colourful row to remind me of Lyme. A little piece of my heart remains there every time I visit.
We have walked past the Town Mill Bakery now and are strolling along the millstream that runs quietly behind the town. It is peaceful and pretty and makes me daydream a little about what it might be like to live here.
See, it is my kind of town for sure!
The path along the millstream comes to an end and all of a sudden we are forced abruptly upwards. It is a beast of a hill, and Little Lady and I puff and pant our way to the top, unable to speak. We are now at the top of the picturesque high street with it's rolling views out across Lyme Bay. It is just so lovely and picture-perfect, I stand and sigh with pleasure.
Love this delightful pink flower shop, well indeed the whole high street is a delight. There is an abundance of independent shops here, and the atmosphere is jolly and light hearted. But we suddenly realise our tummies are rumbling and I give Little Lady the choice :: we can either pick up a pasty to eat in the gardens, or I'll treat us to lunch in one of the seafront eateries.
Little Lady chooses the pasty option and we take shelter in the midst of the cliff side gardens to eat while a short rain shower passes over. It's a very memorable place to eat lunch I have to say....
....the views out across the harbour are spectacular.
I drink it all in, running my eyes along the coastline and recalling the many times I have walked up and down those familiar cliffs.
After lunch, we continue our walk down through the gardens to the seafront, calling in to a quaint little fossil shop, and revisiting the shop where I used to work my student summers. It used to be an ice cream/bucket and spade type shop then, but is now an upmarket boutique selling expensive clothes. Little Lady asks if we might have an ice cream and I am happy to indulge her simple request. We sit a while beside the harbour in the sunshine, leaning our backs against the warm stone wall.
Ice creams down the hatch, we take a wander out along the old cobb (harbour) wall...
....mainly so I can get my boat fix of course. I am quite besotted by colourful fishing boats, they make me feel giddy with happiness.
Lots of fishing still goes on here, and the evidence is piled high all along the cobb.
Lobster pots, buoys, ropes and huge heaps of fishing nets sit in a colourful jumble, adding to the seaside charm.
I think briefly about the boys and wonder if they are having fun with the tanks. I feel deeply grateful that I am not actually with them (I have in fact been to that museum, and believe me, once is quite enough), but hope that they are enjoying themselves as much as we are.
We both decide that we are feeling a bit weary after so much walking and head onto the beach for a rest. I take my heavy walking boots off and relax into the warm stones to allow my mind to drift with the sounds of the waves.
Little Lady paints. Uh-huh, she really does. This is her new thing this holiday, her decision to use her spending money in the art shop instead of the toy shop this year (which secretly delighted me to bits). It's her first proper watercolour set (Winsor & Newton), identical to the one I had at art school all those years ago. We have packed a small bottle of water and she settles down to describe the seascape in washes of colour on a smooth pebble.
I really want to watch her every move, but resist (she says my watching makes her nervous) and instead I watch the comings and goings along the promenade. I love Lyme Regis so much, did I tell you that already?
Oh! The colours of Sky and Sea and Beach have happened!
A sweet memento of our day, something to capture those memories and hold them fast.
She has the most amazing eyes, my girl. She has the darkest lashes, and her eyes are the exact colours of the English Channel, look see.......
That blue/grey/green colour merge thing, it is in her eyes for sure. She tells me that she would like to live by the sea one day, and my heart squeezes. Sweet girl.
Our time is almost up, nearly time to hop on the bus and journey back along the coast. We wander back up through the gardens, resting a while on this fabulous mosaic bench, suddenly very tired from our day of pleasure-seeking. But it has been a real treasure of a day, full to the brim with happy.