Thursday, 31 March 2016

Through the garden gate in March

Oh dear I have only just managed to get this post in with a few hours to spare before we are in a new month!

The garden is still quite bare apart from a few spring flowers. When I saw this primrose above, at the market for 50p, I just couldn't resist it! One of the market holders then told me a story of how when he was a child in the 1960's he was taken by his grandfather to admire one of the first purple primulas that had ever been produced. We now just take all the multiple colours for granted and pay so little for them.

In this part of Dorset, just like in Devon and Cornwall, the lanes and banks are covered in the native primroses and are such a lovely sight. They even seed in the most unexpected areas! Which primroses do you prefer? I do prefer the native variety, but the bold colours do brighten up the garden especially at this time of year.

Hellebores, primulas, and miniature daffodils
 Flowers in our woodland border

These daffodils were in the garden when we arrived. I don't know what variety they are.

The forget-me-not and the wallflowers are just coming into flower.  I have always wondered where the name came from for the forget-me-not flowers. If like me you are interested please look here for further details. The one in our garden doesn't look a perfect specimen due to the weather.

Storm Katie hit our shores on Sunday and even on Monday the waves were still high and crashing on to the shore,

Although the only damage we experienced was some of the glass slipping in the greenhouse, many daffodils heads were broken off. It was sad to see this, especially down in the bay where the flowers were less protected.

Sweet pea seedlings

 I know many of you, like me, have been starting to plant seeds.It is so exciting to see the new growth appearing and the greenhouse is starting to fill up with all the lovely new growth and promise of things to come!

 With the clocks going forward it is good to have the lighter evenings. This evening we had our evening meal in the conservatory - the first since last Autumn. It was lovely looking out at this willow tree at dusk and watching many seagulls flying overhead and out to sea, some singly, some in pairs and some in groups, to feed and sleep. Do your habits change when the clocks move forwards or back?

Thank you as always for taking time to visit me, it is always lovely to read your comments.
Sarah x

Friday, 25 March 2016

Good Friday Hike at Golden Cap

It  has been a family tradition since our son was in Cubs (aged 7) to do a Good Friday hike. Over the years sometimes this hasn't involved all of us but if the weather is fine it is a good way to start the Easter weekend and walk off those Hot Cross Buns that we ate for breakfast! Do you have any family Easter traditions?

Our chosen destination was to walk in the Golden Cap Estate that belongs to the National Trust. It is made up of rolling hills, pastoral fields, sunken lanes, ancient hedgerows and dramatic coastline and towering above all this is Golden Cap (the  high flat topped hill above) which is the highest point on the south coast.

 It is also in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it's easy to see why.

Looking towards Lyme Regis

We didn't walk to the top of Golden Cap on this occasion but just enjoyed walking along many of the footpaths in the area , passing a few cottages and attractive farms.

It was so warm and such a beautiful day!

The National Trust have a small shop, we received a very warm welcome and were informed that we were their first visitors of the season, their having just reopened for the first time since the autumn.

 On our walk back to the car we also noticed our first bluebell of the year! 

It was unfortunate that our son wasn't able to join us until later in the day, so he sadly missed the walk but he did manage to enjoy the spectacular sunset with us in the Bay. It is a shame that the rest of the weekend's weather doesn't look so promising -at least we have managed to enjoy being outside for at least one day.

Our daughter made this amazing chocolate Easter cake. It was just as well we had walked a few miles beforehand! Wishing you a  all a very Happy Easter!

Sarah x

Monday, 21 March 2016

New beginnings

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, in the last week we have already started to notice new growth appearing......

As the blossom appeared on the blackthorn we experienced a really cold weekend. It was a surprise then to discover that over 150 years ago William Corbbett  wrote these words...

 'It is a remarkable fact that there is every year of our lives, a spell of cold and angry weather just at the time this hardy little tree is in bloom. The country people call it the Black Thorn winter and thus it has been called, I dare say, by all the inhabitants of this island, from generation to generation, for a thousand years.’

Isn't it strange that some things never change! Did you experience a cold weekend too?

We just spent a weekend of drinking lots of hot drinks, reading and wrapping up with lots of extra layers when we took the dog out for walks. Our weekly visit to the bakers ending up with an impromptu brunch in a local hotel, while watching on the outside the shoppers and market stall holders who looked frozen. The food and drink were just what we needed to feel warm again.

I am off on leave this week,it will be a chance to experience how life will be when I am no longer working. It has been good today to do some de-cluttering, make some celery soup and investigate simple new routines. Does anyone have any tips?  It was so much warmer and we were able to do some gardening and plant many seeds. The walk on East Beach, the first one since the rock fall was lovely, and the sea was so calm just like me!

 Wishing you all a good week, until next time.

Sarah x

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Blue skies and low tide

It has been good to see blue skies again especially after the high winds and rain earlier in the week that locally caused three lorries and many trees to blow over. Our solar panels today recorded the highest reading since they were installed in October and we have enjoyed our first ice-cream sitting outside by the sea.

 The Bay has been very busy over the weekend, although not at 7.30 in the morning when this first picture was taken ...

   and when there was only the company of a cormorant sitting on one of the navigation warning posts.

This week we have had one of the lowest tides of the year and taking advantage of this, the annual dredging of the outer harbour has been taking place. It has been a huge task to move the sand and pebbles back to the beach in between the high tides.

The lower tide has allowed closer access to some of the boats in the inner harbour.

Stonecrop growing on rocks by the harbour wall.
This year I am trying to capture more of the plants and wildlife around the bay. The skylarks have also returned to the fields above us. It is so good to hear their joyful song again, however they are not easy to photograph, unlike this goldfinch who was quite happy to pose!

A goldfinch sitting on the telephone wire
We have been busy in the garden too. Our jobs included planting some autumn cropping raspberry canes. Pride always comes before a fall - only last week I told Amanda how Tavi was so much better in the garden now he was a year older. A day after the planting we saw him proudly sitting on the lawn with a raspberry cane at his feet! What a shame the camera wasn't to hand!

View across Lyme Bay from Eype
When we took an evening walk and watched the sun go down, we met some holiday makers who were so excited by the amazing location and exclaimed how lucky we were all to be here on holiday. It seemed unfair to point out that we are able to enjoy this view via a short walk all year around.

I hope you too have enjoyed some sunshine over the weekend. 
Sarah x

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Which way now?

Which way to go that is the question. Let's just carry straight on ...

As the days of heavy rain become slightly less frequent, it is easier now to find some drier spots and put the hiking boots on and take a longer walk....

The monument above is Hardy's Monument and is a local land mark that is visible from miles around. It was built in 1844 to remember Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy who was Flag Captain to Admiral Nelson and commanded HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. As Nelson lay dying of a musket shot his last words spoken were, " I have done my duty, thank God, now kiss me Hardy."

The Dorset countryside is so varied that you don't need to go far to experience many different landscapes. I was first introduced to the Dorset countryside through the author Thomas Hardy's novels. The countryside settings varying from beautiful vales where everything was lush, green and fertile to barren lands and stoney lands where it was difficult to grow anything. On our walks I am often reminded of this first introduction, although I have to admit that it is the more attractive countryside that attracts our attention!

 We walked along a path to Hells Bottom and came across this abandoned farm. I always feel so sad for abandoned buildings and wonder about their history. On returning home I was trying to find out the reason for naming this Hell's Bottom and instead discovered that this farmhouse was one of the locations used in Thomas Hardy's novel Far from the madding Crowd adapted for film in 1967. It looked so different then with a roof on!

We passed by another abandoned building - two in one day which is quite unusual!

There were also buzzards soaring overhead, pheasants hiding in the undergrowth, a deer that was too fast to capture and black beetle. I was fascinated how the end of its legs looked like barbed wire.

Thank you for helping with the identification  many of you have told me it is a stonechat.
    There has been a number of land slides along the coast over the past few weeks and also instances of fossil hunters getting stuck in mud slides.

Landslip at Seatown 
 The latest landslide happened along East Cliff in West Bay overnight last Sunday, so luckily there was no one on the beach at the time.

We had always assumed that by walking closer to the water's edge and away from the cliffs that it would be safe, but the latest rock fall managed to reach the water's edge as you can see below.

Image by National Police Air service (NPAS)

Although some of the rock fall has already been washed away  as can be seen above, The image was taken a long distance away with the zoom camera. It will be at the lowest tide that we will be venturing along this stretch again. There are  however many stretches of beach that can still be enjoyed and carry less risk.

Did anyone manage to see Best Walks with a View with Julia Bradbury on ITV on Friday night? It featured a beautiful walk from Colmers Hill (which has often been featured here) to the Jurassic Coast see here.

Colmers Hill

We have been celebrating Mother's Day this weekend in the UK. I know this is a different date to many other countries. I received a huge bunch of my favourite spring flowers from my children and despite my son being on holiday in Scotland my daughter working most of the day I was still given a lovely tea out in between her shifts. I' m sure you have all been spoilt too!

 Take care until next time.
 Sarah x


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