For one reason and another we weren't able to take our usual summer visit down to Dorset this year. As it was the very first time in twenty odd years that I've not made that long journey to visit my folks in the summer time, I found that I missed it enormously. So after some persuading (and maybe a weeny bit of emotional pressure) we decided that an Autumn jaunt would be just the thing to allow my sea-loving soul to reconnect with my home turf (or maybe that should be home surf).
We've been to Dorset in autumn a few times before, the last time being two years ago in 2014. In many ways it's a nicer, gentler experience than a summer visit, with far fewer people and a noticeably more mellow atmosphere. The main downside is the lower temperatures and shorter amounts of daylight, but as you can see from these photos, we were generally pretty blessed with the weather to say it was the end of October.
There were some really gorgeous, bright and breezy sunshiny days which we made the absolute most of. We headed straight to the sea and spent hours meandering around my beloved and familiar childhood stomping ground. Breathing in the fresh salty sea air and taking in the beautiful shades of watery blue. Strolling around the little harbour, out along the gusty pier, down onto the pebbly beach. Sitting in the gentle warmth of the sun sipping coffee, or munching on fish and chips whilst gazing at the horizon. I was definitely in my happy place on these occasions.
We also spent lots of precious time with my folks which was good - my Mum isn't in great health and truthfully I was shocked by how much she has visibly aged since I last saw her in the Spring. I wish our visits weren't so far apart, but they are what they are and I appreciate them very, very much when they happen.
We were in Dorset for four days in total, and it was such a lovely time for my little family. The Little People are now aged 6, 12 and 14 and the age gap between my two boys seems more apparent that it's ever been. The Teen is fiercely independent with a quiet, laid-back personality, whereas six year old Little B is a highly energetic rather attention-greedy child. These two extremes don't always exist peacefully together at home but at least when we are on holiday, life is a bit more relaxed and it seems easier and more harmonious somehow.
We spent most of our good weather hours out and about beside the sea, and the bad weather days cosied up by the fireside with my folks. But I had asked the family if we could visit the subtropical gardens at Abbotsbury so that I could (among other things) indulge my newly discovered Hydrangea fetish. We've visited these gardens many, many times over the years, but of course it's always been in spring and summer.
The Autumn version wasn't nearly as visually inspiring as I had hoped, which was a shame. I was expecting lots of glorious Autumn colour in the foliage, but in reality it was mostly decaying brown and soggy green.
There were some lovely little autumny bits here and there if you sought them out, and I did try hard to focus on the small colourful details and not feel disappointed by what was lacking.
There is a whole great long "Hydrangea Walk" at Abbotsbury gardens which I remembered well from previous visits. It's glorious in the summer (if a bit pastel-coloured), but I was keen to see how it looked in October and how much the colours of the flowers would have changed.
The colours were pretty and very varied, although I was surprised by how much paler they were compared to the blooms up here in Yorkshire right now which have a beautiful depth of colour and a rich, autumnal look to them.
I've learnt that the colours of hydrangea flowers will change depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, so I'm guessing this might explain the difference between the Dorset and Yorkshire blooms? I....mmmm.......I really prefer the northern ones!
I was hoping to feel really fired up by these flowers, had anticipated a rush of colourful inspiration and creative feel good, much like I did the other week in my studio, but truthfully?? Not so much.
But I do still have some dried hydrangea flowers laid out on my studio table which have led to plenty of faffing with my yarn pegs, so there is definitely something hydrangea-ish lurking in my Creative Mind. We shall see what transpires............