Weymouth 2014 Day 7 – Around Weymouth

I got up at 06:30 to go for one last run along the coast. This one was once again a 20 minute easy paced run which ended up becoming a 25 minute run — just enough to make it a 5K at a slowish pace (probably fairer to say it was half way between easy and race paces). This morning though it was cloudy and damp following the previous night’s thunderstorms so there wasn’t as good a view.

Today we didn’t make it out of the house until 10:00 and at this time it was till cloudy. Despite this we decided we’d head back to Portland Bill. As we’d had a stop along the way it meant by the time we’d got there it was time to have lunch. Following a cup of tea we then cooked some pork and apple burgers on the camping stove and went to photograph some 6-spotted Burnet moths whilst they cooked (the burgers, not the moths!).

6-spotted Burnett Moth

Portland Bill

After lunch we went for a walk around a different part of Portland Bill and found an area where you could climb down (with some effort) to a sandy beach that was gradually disappearing under the waves.

I then climbed around to some other rocks where you could see a crane that is used for lifting small boats in and out of the water. Whilst there I saw a boat for some scuba divers be prepared and then lowered into the water. Once the boat had started moving the two scuba divers jumped off the cliff into the water.

Whilst we were at Portland Bill there were times when it was obvious the sun was trying to break through the clouds, but by the time we left it looked like it could rain at any minute. It didn’t though, even by the time we got back to Weymouth.

To start with the others spent some time in the amusement arcade once again. I did go in with them briefly but thought it would be cooler outside. After a while the clouds finally dissipated and the sun came out, and quickly started to get warm. To make the most of the soaring temperature I quickly got back to the car and changed into swimming trunks before heading down to the beach.

We then drove back to the house and walked around to the go-karting next to Sea Life. It cost £5.00 for a single go-kart and £7.00 for a double. My Dad and myself each had a single go-kart and my Mum and Sister had a double between them. Having done go-karting once before I knew roughly how they could handle so soon overtook my Dad and then lapped my Mum and Sister. By the time the we’d done I’d lapped each of them a few times around the track.

We were going to try the crazy golf next door, but it seemed that £6.50 per person was a little expensive compared to others we’d been to before. So instead we headed back to the house and then drove round to the chip shop on the seafront. This was the same one we’d been to on Saturday. This time though we got some extra chicken nuggets for free as they’d cooked too many and didn’t have any other customers at the time.

Once we got back to the house once more, myself and my Dad then headed around to the RSPB Loodmoor nature reserve. It’s about 15 minutes away from the house when walking as you can cut across some grassy areas to get there. The ability to view the wildlife here isn’t brilliant as a lot of the foliage is seriously overgrown. There is the odd place though where you can see, and we found that there was at least one viewing point. Whilst there we saw various species of duck, heron, egret, lapwing, moorhen and Canada Geese.

Finally our last full day had come to an end. The following day we would be heading back home, and at that point it would then be 11 weeks until my next trip – to New York City.


Weymouth 2014 Day 6 – Guernsey. Or not.

Today I got up at 06:30 expecting to get ready for a day trip over to Guernsey. To make sure we’d get there my Mum who has on occasion had travel difficulties saw the Doctor to help with her nerves, and also brought a hip flask of brandy with her. However, she hadn’t used the medication she’d been given or the drank the brandy; she instead felt that she couldn’t go on the trip. I did wonder how much of this fear of the boat trip was caused by watching Titanic a few nights previous.

However, myself and my sister were told that we should still go on the trip however she said she’d have been upset had we gone. This did mean we no longer knew what we’d be doing today. After a while the decision was made to cross into Wiltshire to visit Salisbury, and then back to Dorset to visit Shaftesbury and into Somerset to get to Sherbourne.

Salisbury Cathedral

At our first stop in Salisbury we visited the Cathedral. Unlike some of the cathedrals I’ve been to this one does not charge entry and allows you to go around the cloisters and see the Magna Carta for free. If you want to go in the main part of the Cathedral there is a suggested donation of £6.50, but it is only a suggestion.

Salisbury Cathedral – Cloisters

In the Chapterhouse, where they hold the Magna Carta, it is surprisingly kept in almost direct sunlight, but they don’t allow photography in this room. I think that’s perfectly understandable really as the number of people who would try and use their flash (or not know enough about how their camera works so the flash goes off anyway) could cause damage to the document over time. Apparently this copy is in better condition than the one in Lincoln Castle.

The cathedral also has a nice cafe in the refectory where they use proper tea leaves in their teas and also make cakes and bread on sight in the adjoining kitchen. The flapjack I had there was pretty good!

Vaulted Ceilings

Once we’d finished at the cathedral there was little time to see the rest of Salisbury so we headed back to the car and headed towards Shaftesbury. Along the way we made a slight detour though to find somewhere to have lunch. The nearest place we found was still in Wiltshire, and was an English Heritage property called Old Wardour Castle – built in the 14th Century. On the way to this though we passed an interesting church in Wilton that looked very European.

Wilton Church

Eventually we made it to Shaftesbury and parked up so we could go looking for Gold Hill – a steep hill lined with old buildings and made famous by the Hovis advert from the 1970s. Between the picturesque scene and Dvorak’s New World Symphony (9th movement) it’s no wonder it was so memorable. I spent a bit of time here trying to get a reasonable photograph and even wandered down the bottom before running back up it (it was quite some effort!).

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

At the top of the hill they have a museum which includes very few pieces, and upstairs they have a section to commemorate it being 100 years since the start of the First World War. What I didn’t realise though is that there was a statue next to this building that makes reference to the famous advertisement. If I’d seen it there would have been a fair chance I’d have photographed that too, no matter how silly it may seem to do so.

We then moved on to our final stop of the day – at Sherborne Castle. There are two properties here – one which is owned by English Heritage (the old Castle), and then there’s the one which is actually a stately home formerly owned by Sir Walter Raleigh.

You can either pay £6.00 to go around the gardens, or £11.00 to also go around the house. We chose the latter option, though what they don’t tell you until you’ve paid and reached the house entrance is that they don’t allow photography there, or mobile phones. I can understand disallowing flash photography, but to disallow photography altogether is a real shame. It’s also an annoyance they don’t tell you this before you pay.

Sherborne Castle

The interior of the house isn’t that special and I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price we paid – especially when you compare it to Athelhampton House or most of the other stately homes I’ve visited over the years. At one point I took my mobile phone out of my pocket when I got an email and one of the stewardesses there “told me off” for using a mobile phone in the house as it’s not allowed. Before I’d even done that she’d already had a real attitude and I think it really affected my opinion of the estate.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

Outside the gardens aren’t really much to look at and would be better described as grounds. There is a large lake with trees around it, and on the far side there is a wall which offers (poor) views of the old castle. They recommend going to the view point (which they described as a 45 minute walk, but took us 10 minutes) but why they don’t tell you is that you can barely see the castle as it’s too close and deliberately positioned so that you can’t see it that well (so you’d have to pay English Heritage to see that one properly too I guess).

Eventually we headed back to Weymouth and had a meal at the Brewer’s Fayre. Unfortunately their car park is pay and display which seems a bit unusual for a restaurant (and they don’t refund the charge to customers), but I assume it’s because it’s near the beach. When we got there we were told there was a 30 minute wait (which meant our car park ticket was effectively useless as 20 minutes after we’d parked it would change to free parking) so we thought we’d try out the crazy golf in the meantime. Sadly that turned out to close at 17:00 so we headed to the beach for a while instead. In the distance we could see some sort of navy ship, though it wasn’t until I photographed it that I could tell it looked more like a small aircraft carrier.

Aircraft Carrier

As the evening drew to a close we briefly had some rain, a sign that our final full day in Dorset might be a little cooler than the 27 degrees sunshine we’d had today.

Weymouth 2014 Day 5 – Lulworth

Up to this point I’d not slept that well, yet hadn’t been overly tired. So once again I was already awake when I got up at 06:30 to go for a run. This was supposed to be a 20 minute easy run, but instead turned into a 5K easy run (so about 27 mins, a 5K in 20 minutes would be my race pace and setting a new PB). Instead of running purely along the coastline this time I ran through some of the city before reaching the beach and then continued the run along it.

By 08:30 we were out on the road and heading to Swanage and Lulworth Castle. Due to having set off early it meant even after we’d stopped by the supermarket on the way it was still too early to look around the castle so we carried on to Swanage.

We didn’t spend that much time in Swanage though — we’ve been there before and nothing there seems to change. The weather was clouding over too so after a brief stop in the amusement arcade we then carried on (my sister likes to spend time in these).

Our next stop was at the Durlstone Country Park, another place we’ve been many times before, but this was so we could take a break for a cup of tea and use up a bit of time. Once the tea had been consumed we then headed back to Lulworth Castle and arrived just in time for lunch.

Lulworth Castle

Inside Lulworth Castle

After lunch we looked around Lulworth Castle which cost £5.00 to get in. From the outside we got the impression that it was a stately home that might take a while to look around. Once we got inside we soon realised that the building was an almost empty shell.

The castle was built in 1610 by Thomas Howard, the 3rd Viscount Howard of Bindon. It was however gutted by a fire in 1929, although the cause of the fire is unknown it raged strongly enough to go for three days.

Whilst we were there we watched as the cloud level lowered and started to become incredibly foggy. Somewhere nearby we could also hear tanks performing some firing practice, probably at Lulworth Camp, an MOD site.

Having been a little disappointed by Lulworth Castle we then drove on to Dorchester to look around the town there. It’s quite a small Roman town and from what we could see there didn’t appear to be a lot to look at either. The shopping area too is smaller than our home town of Leicester, which itself isn’t exactly massive.

Although only early afternoon we then headed back to the house for a while. Once we’d had our evening meal we then headed back out into the city to spend some time along the seafront and on the beach.

Weymouth 2014 Day 4 – Portland

Today was the first run of the second week of marathon training so I got up at 06:30, before the others had gotten up and went out without making any noise. This time it was a very slow recovery run for what was supposed to be 25 minutes.

Instead of heading across the promenade and into the city I instead went east towards where the market was the day before. Sadly this route included a particularly steep hill that left me out of breath by the time I got to the top – not ideal for a recovery run, but at least it was slow paced. Once I got back the others got up and ready whilst I had a very quick shower.

Chesil Beach

Olympic Games 2012

After breakfast we then headed out to Portland. In previous years when we’ve been we’ve gone to Portland Bill for a picnic and headed back — it being all we usually have time for when travelling from Poole. This time we took our time and stopped for a while at a view point where we could look down over Chesil Beach. At this viewpoint they also have some olympic rings to commemorate the water sports being hosted there during the London 2012 olympic games.

The Verne Citadel

Further along the path was a place we’d never been to before. Verne Citadel was constructed in 1860 to be a medium security prison for prisoners. For a time it was also used for coastal defence, but today it is once again a prison. It has two entrances, and the one we saw was a via bridge that led to a door into the side of the cliff face. It seemed kind of unusual, and I had no idea anything like this existed in the UK. To look at, it had the appearance of something that was a cross between an odd looking castle and a Hobbit hole (see The Lord of the Rings).

Pulpit Rock

We then had a quick look around the Portland market and got some cake (instead of chocolate cake I went with flapjack – shock!), before continuing on to Portland Bill. Once we got there we started off with a cup of tea before going for a wander.

Myself and my Dad went off first, looking for butterflies, but we encountered what seems pretty usual — none of them seemed to keen on settling somewhere to be photographed. After this we climbed down the rocks with our cameras to take some pictures of the water crashing against the rocks near the MOD base.

We then took it in turns to climb Pulpit Rock. I went first, but didn’t get to the top though as I was unsure about the dampness of the rock and had to be careful of my arm after an accident a week previously.

Portland Pill Lighthouse

My mum and sister joined us as I was descending the rock ready for my dad to climb it. Once he was back down we walked around the rocks for a while until my sister tripped and grazed her knee. We then walked up to the lighthouse and back to the car to have lunch.

I had my lunch as quickly as I could so I could find the time to go back to the lighthouse to see if I could go up it. It cost £4.00 for me to climb the steps to the top and to be fair it probably wasn’t worth it – but it was the first time I’ve ever been inside or up a lighthouse. For that it was worth the money.

On the way off Portland we stopped by the Church there. It’s built from Portland rock, the local rock which got used for a lot of buildings in London after the great fire. It’s quite an unusual church – it’s design is fairly unique, yet it’s still obvious what it is. Once inside I was then given a chance to ring the bell. It’s kind of weird as you have to try and get the right rhythm so that the rope stays taught.

St. George’s Church, Portland

When leaving Portland we did briefly stop off at the Castle, but it looked like it wouldn’t be worth looking around so we headed back to Weymouth. In Weymouth we parked up where the car boot had been in Preston, and went in the amusement arcade. Whilst they played on the 2p machines I got my Dad to have two games of air hockey with me. When he joined them I then had a go on House of the Dead 4 (which I was terrible at), and a couple of goes on a “grabber” that had Star Wars plushies in it.

After a quick walk around the beach we then headed back to the house for the evening meal and then spent the rest of the evening there.

Weymouth 2014 Day 3 – Athelhampton

We got up at 07:00 and by 08:30 we were out on the road headed in the direction of Dorchester and went straight through to Cerne Abbas. In this village there is a giant carved into the limestone rock though it’s origin is not entirely known. There is speculation that it may be an ancient carving of Hercules, or a Saxon (or other) deity. What sheds some doubt on it’s age though is that it is not mentioned in any historical context until the 17th century. This has led some to believe that it is a satirical depiction of Oliver Cromwell.

Whatever the case may be, there is however evidence that the figure has been modified over time and it’s believed it once held an animal skin in it’s empty hand. This would tie in with some depictions of Hercules, the Roman equivalent of the Greek mythological character, Heracles. It seems though that it may not be that well maintained at the minute though as it was difficult to pick out against the grass. it could be though that the weather makes a difference to how well it shows up.

Athelhampton House

Our next stop was at Athelhampton House. For this one we got a two-for-one offer through “Groupon” which meant it only cost us £6.25 for entry. This house was used for exterior shots during the filming of the Doctor Who story “Seeds of Doom”. An episode during the time of Tom Baker, the fourth actor to play The Doctor, the Time Lord from Galifrey.

Athelhampton House Gardens

Stream at Athelhampton House

To start with we went around the gardens. The first area has large pyramid shaped bushes with a fountain as a centre piece. As we wandered from section to section it seemed evident that these fountains were common amongst them all. Eventually we got a path that crossed some water and led through some trees around to the other side of the house. This comes out where they have a large cylindrical Dovecot you can enter. Inside the Dovecot they actually have space for an incredible number of doves, and there were quite a few in there. Once done we then moved on to the house.

Dove inside a Dovecot

Unlike other houses we’ve been to most of this one was not roped off, and they allow you to sit in the chairs. This is because the owners are quite laid back and probably like having people visit their house. There is an exception though — in the Kings room the bed and a number of items are roped off. The same also applied to the library and dining room – which is understandable as those rooms had things that could be moved.

Athelhampton House – Sitting Room

Once we’d done there we’d intended to go to Lulworth Castle, though after we’d had a cooked picnic at Affpuddle we decided we’d leave Lulworth Castle for another day.

On the way back we stopped off in the Weymouth city centre to look around the shops. My sister bought her third Charlie bear of the holiday for just under £50. I think she may be obsessed with stuffed animals, though that’d be why I usually bring her one back from the other countries I visit.

Before heading back to the car we walked across the sandy beach and found you could walk out a really long way before the water even reached your knees. This indicates the beach is incredibly flat so that when the tide comes in and goes out there will be a massive difference in where the water reaches.

The rest of the afternoon was spent back at the house so we could have a roast dinner. Once we’d had it though we headed back out. My mum and sister spent some time in the amusement arcade – I’d given them a bag filled with about £2 worth of 2p coins.

I went out and walked around the beach for a while as it got darker. Eventually I rejoined them and found that most of the machines in the arcade were out of order, and that their “Van Gogh” booth was in fact a webcam plugged into a PC running Windows 98, with two CRTs and a black and white HP Laserjet. The quality of it’s prints are so incredibly poor.

I then started to watch “The Ring” in the evening once we got back.

Weymouth 2014 Day 2 – West Dorset

I got up at 06:30, particularly early for a Sunday, so I could go for a “long” run before breakfast. I decided to take it at a very slow pace along the seafront. This route took me over the bridge to where we’d walked the day before.

The run felt easy and I didn’t have any knee issues during the actual run. Later in the day though I did feel the odd twinge in my knee when going down hill. When I’d finished the run I then spent 10 minutes in the park on the exercise equipment there as I figured it would be a good way to cool down. The run was less than 50 minutes as the marathon training plan I was following (one which is not too intensive due to my recent knee issues) stated it should be a 40 minute run. As I was close to 5 miles at that point, at my slower than 10K race pace, I carried on until I’d finished 5 miles.

Back at the house I quickly showered and then had breakfast – a nice cooked breakfast to start the day. For today the plan was to head west, in the direction of West Bay. It was a windy road along the coastal path, but it was filled with good views of the sea. It was possible to go a faster and straighter way, but it wouldn’t have been as scenic – it’s sometimes better to take the slower route so you can see what else there is around.

“Broadchurch Police Station”

When we got to West Bay we parked in front of an old railway building that had been turned into a cafe and walked towards the waterfront. As we walked around the harbour we then split up and went in different directions. Myself and my Dad continued around the harbour whilst my Mum and Sister went in the amusement arcade. On the opposite side of the harbour was a building that was used as the police station in the TV series, Broadchurch. In actual life it’s a shop that sells bits for motorbikes, and probably some apartments above it. As far as I know it was only used for the exterior shots – the interior shots may have been in a studio.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

We’d still got some time after this so we continued out onto the pier and watched a cormorant for a while before heading back. We then all sat down for a cup of tea and half a slice of Dorset apple cake. As I guessed before we saw it, Dorset apple cake is basically a sponge cake with bits of apple in it. Whilst sitting there some starlings got incredibly close, including at least one juvenile one. Once we’d done we headed over to the pebble beach.

West Bay beach

Trilobite Fossil

This pebble beach was also used in Broadchurch and was one of the first things you see in the series with the towering cliffs overlooking the beach. In the TV series this beach was used as the location the murdered boy was found in what was set up to appear like a suicide or accident from the cliffs. In real life the cliffs themselves have crumbled recently and you can see this from a mound that is left at the base of them.

From West Bay we continued on around the coast to Lyme Regis, the area of Dorset that borders with Devon, and another part of the Jurassic Coast. This area is very hilly so we tried to park as close to the bottom as we could. Whilst here I looked at some fossils in a shop and ended up buying a large trilobite fossil for £66. A few doors down we went in a fudge shop and I spent another £2.20 on getting fudge for myself. We then walked along the sea front for a while, before heading back to the car.

By the time of our next stop it was around 14:00, so was quite late for lunch, but we still weren’t that hungry. We stopped in a National Trust car park and had a piece of pork pie and sausage roll before going down onto the beach. This beach had very fine stones on it, so it was okay going down to the water, but getting back up was hard work and painful on the feet (as the stones would dig into your feet, and move underfoot).

Lyme Regis

Eventually we got back to Weymouth and dropped the car off at the house. By the time we were ready it was just before 17:00 so we walked across the park to the nearby Brewers Fayre. I spent £15 on an 8oz Sirloin Steak with peppercorn sauce and a “bottomless” drink of Fanta. Though I went with a glass of Apple Fanta and then one of orange.

For the rest of the evening we relaxed back at the house and watched Titanic.

Weymouth 2014 Day 1 – Leicester To Weymouth

We got up at 06:30ish and straight after breakfast started loading the car up ready for our holiday down in Weymouth. By 07:30 we were on the road heading south.

One of our stops was at Uffington to see the Bronze-age white horse carved in chalk on the side of the hill there, and to have a cup of tea. It’s not that easy to see properly though as it’s at an angle where seeing it from the air would be better. I didn’t find this out though until I’d walked half a mile from the car park to get there whilst my parents and sister waited at the car.

Uffington White Horse

Finding it to be pointless I then ran back to the car at an easy pace and at one point thought I’d twisted my ankle when I came across a hidden hole in the ground; but it turned out to be okay. Within a few steps I couldn’t even tell that I’d done it.

Our next stop was at Old Sarum to have lunch. Old Sarum is a medieval castle built by William the Conqueror and then reinforced by later Kings. Sadly we didn’t go in, but at only £4.00 I’d have liked to. From the entry price for this English Heritage site I suspect that there isn’t much to see though. From there we drove through the historic city of Salisbury, the cathedral of which we could see from our previous stop.

Old Sarum

We then didn’t stop again until we reached Weymouth at around 13:30. We were early getting to the house we’d be staying at for the week, but fortunately it turned out it was ready for us. We unloaded the car and then went for a walk behind the house, across the park and over the road to where a pebble beach could be found.

At the time it seemed that the beach was going to be all pebble, but after jumping in the car and going for a drive we found that quite some way down the beach, passed where the pier used to be, that there was in fact some sand.

Weymouth was absolutely packed though due to a seafood festival sponsored by a champagne company. It meant that there was a lot of people (standing around drinking mostly), and most of them likely drunk also (despite it being only mid-afternoon). We went down one side of the harbour to start with, not far from Nothe Fort, and then walked back over the bridge and down the other side. We took this opportunity to see where we’d be heading to Guernsey from in a few days time.

Weymouth Harbour

Once back at the car we didn’t go far before deciding to go for some chips, so we parked up again literally several hundred metres down the road and then walked to find a chip shop. I went for chips and chicken nuggets and found it incredibly filling. They were however very nice chips. On the way there my sister managed to spend around £75 on “Charlie Bears” from a shop that was closing down.

Back at the house we then relaxed for a while and had a cup of tea. My sister and myself then went to the park to use the exercise equipment there. Whilst there I decided it might be good to use this park equipment following tomorrows morning run as a cool down. It’s quite nice to have an outdoor gym, even though I’ve never stepped foot in actual gym in my life.

I then sat and watched TV for the rest of the evening.