Cosby Victory Show

Every year at the start of September I see classic aircraft flying over at home, and one year have even seen a simulated bombing run from the Vulcan as well. I’ve been told frequently it’s worth visiting the Cosby Victory Show, and have even been told that they have tanks there as well. Up until now though I’d never been able to make it there. This year however I went there with my Dad as it coincided with his 60th birthday.

The event spans three days – Friday to Sunday though on the Friday it’s apparently mostly school children that visit for classes. On the Saturday and Sunday the schedule various aerial displays and battle re-enactments.

We went on the Sunday afternoon with only four hours of the victory show left (in the morning I’d been out on a 22 mile training run). As we drove through Cosby to get to the show we saw the Trig aerobatic team flying overhead. This team of talented pilots flew their Pitts Special S-1D biplanes in some impressive maneuvers that would have pulled quite a few Gs! Once at the farm where this event takes place it’s then a bit of a drive down a dirt track to the field they use as a car park. Entry for this event was £18 per person.

The first thing we saw when we got into the event was rows of stalls selling World War 2 memorabilia and suchlike. We weren’t particularly interested in this so headed to the far side of the field where they had some WW2-era vehicles parked up that we thought would be worth photographing. They weren’t all military vehicles though, there were also the odd staff vehicle (so the same as what the public would have used), old farm machinery, and traction engines. They weren’t particularly interesting to me, but I figured as they were there it was something to photograph.

Whilst photographing these the next aerial display started and a Buchon buzzed the field alongside us giving us a great opportunity to photograph it close up. This is what I was there for – to photograph action shots of aircraft in flight having simulated dogfights as they would have during the war. This particular aircraft was from the German Luftwaffe and was a Rolls-Royce powered Messerschmitt Bf109. Behind this as part of the same display was a Grace Spitfire ML407 – one of the most iconic aircraft from the war.

Following the old vehicles around at the head of the field we then started to come across reenacters that were either standing around their vehicles, or were part of a diorama-like scene wearing not just British uniforms but also Nazi and US infantry uniforms as well. There were soldiers laying down in dug out trenches with gun placements, others sitting around on trucks and light tanks and it started to feel like we walking around an Allied camp during the war.

From there we headed through a hedgerow to a parked aircraft – a Douglas C.47 Dakota. Unlike everything else we’d seen this far this one they were allowing people onboard (at a price). I didn’t actually bother to board it though as I’d been on similar aircraft whilst overseas. We could also see a few other parked aircraft but didn’t immediately go over to them as we heard the battle re-enactment had started and thought we should make sure we got to see it.

Along the way we stopped for the odd photograph as we passed more reenacters, but eventually we got there. It was crowded and blatantly obvious that to get a good view we should have arrived there earlier. It was difficult initially to see what was going on – between the crowds of people in front of us, and smoke rising from the battlefield we could only see the Axis forces, but even they were obscured.

As the battle raged on we were able to move forward a bit and I could finally start to take some closer photographs of the battle. We could see Allied forces were advancing on the German position and had some armour moving with them. The Germans had their strongpoint on their side though, and some heavy weaponry.

There was a lot going on at the same time, in one area you could watch infantry trading shots, and the occasional casualty, whereas on the other side you could see tanks growing ever closer as German infantry attempted to use machine guns against them. You could almost consider this to be like a real battle, filled with confusion, though in this case they had spectators.

The noise was incredible – the sounds of bullets being fired, and shouts from the infantry on both sides. The smell of cordite lingered in the air, as smoke from the bullets spread and hid some of the soldiers from view. An onlooker could be fooled into thinking this was a real battle, but looking closely you could see some of them were smiling, they were having fun. Although they were demonstrating what a battle could be like, this was not one – there was no danger, no life or death choices for them to make in a heartbeat – just the need to put on a good show.

Eventually the Allied forces broken the German strongpoint and either captured or “killed” each of them. There was even one moment where a captured officer tried to escape and was shot in the back. It was quite a sight to watch this battle unfold before our eyes.

Watching the battle reminded me of HBO’s “Band of Brothers” – a miniseries that started with their training for Operation Overlord (the 101st Airborne drop behind enemy lines the night before the D-Day landings), and progressed passed this to Eindhoven, The Battle of the Bulge, and beyond. This battle specifically reminded me of the depiction of Easy Company’s march on Carentan.

With the battle over we left the field and headed back to where we’d left off before this detour. Along this part of the field there were more “scenes” of war such as a group of German officers sitting in the ruins of a café. It reminded me of something I’d seen before, possibly a photograph – so I took my own photograph of them sitting there. There was also a half track we passed, a field hospital where they were dressing “wounds”, and the tanks leaving the battlefield also passed us here.

We didn’t stick around though, we headed into the forest…

As we entered the forest the loud speakers in the field started to play the main title theme from Band of Brothers – perfect timing in my opinion. This area had been sprayed white to make it look like winter, and I think was supposed to represent the Battle of the Bulge. Here there were scattered fox holes, and soldiers in white ponchos. There was also an area made to look like it was where soldiers had fallen in battle.

We left the forest in time to see the more aircraft flying over as we also tried to photograph the tanks now that they were approachable on the field. The remainder of this field we covered quite quickly and soon moved on to the aircraft walk (back near the parked Dakota) where we could get close to where some of the aircraft from earlier displays were parked.

I think most of my attention was on the aircraft flying over which eventually became a reenactment of the Battle of Britain feature a Hawker Hurricane and a Spitfire. It was getting quite late in the day by this point and we knew there wasn’t much time left. I made sure I’d photographed each of the planes that was on the land and tried periodically to photograph those that were flying over head. We even saw a couple take off whilst we were there as they’d use a relatively flat piece of the field as a makeshift runway.

In the distance though we could see them preparing the B-17 Flying Fortress “Sally B” for take-off. This is the big finale for the airshow but we didn’t have time to stick around waiting for it so instead headed back to the car. The road out of the show takes you past the end of the runway, and we unexpectedly had to stop and wait just before the end of this so that the B-17 could take off.

By pure chance we were in the perfect place to see it as it hurtled down the runway towards us and eventually took off as I was frantically taking photographs of it. It flew overhead and disappeared briefly, but we were done and left – even though we could still see the B-17 flying around.

It was a fun afternoon and one I would recommend to anyone.


Devon Day 5 – Newquay

I started the day with my second run of the week – a short run of just over 3 miles at a slow pace around the nearby area. This time I decided to try a different route and this one turned out to be quite a hilly one – for just over 1 mile I was running up hill, but it did of course mean I had to run down hill just as far afterwards.

After my run we took our time before heading out, and when we did we first needed to stop by the shops. Eventually though we were on the road and heading south in to Cornwall for the first time this week – something I thought we’d be doing more regularly. Our intended destination was Newquay, an approximate 60 miles away, with the intention of stopping by Tintagel and Bude on the way back. This depended upon how long we’d stay in each place, and how long it’d take to travel there as the roads were quite a mix along the way.

As we arrived in Newquay it had just turned 12:00 so we briefly had a look around and then had lunch before going down onto what was the main surfing beach where all the schools are located. The beach is a pretty nice one and is quite large – it seems the tide goes out quite a long way and leaves rather large pools of water scattered across the beach.

What I didn’t expect to see though was on the adjacent cliff there is the Headland Hotel – the hotel that was used as the filming location for “The Witches”, a film based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. In the book though the hotel they stay at is supposed to be in Bournemouth. As I was taking photographs of this hotel we then saw a large aircraft fly overhead, possibly some sort of military one.

Once we’d finished spending time of the beach we started our journey back, and towards the town of Tintagel. When we got there we parked up, but soon found that it was quite a long walk to the castle – more than my sister could manage with her crutches. It was an incredible shame, but it meant we couldn’t really go to the cliffside to see the castle as I’d hoped. Instead we went to a tea room and sat with a cup of tea for a while instead.

By the time we left Tintagel it was getting quite late, but along the way from there to Bude we stopped by two villages – Weeks St. Mary and Whitstone. Both of these we were visiting to look in church graveyards for gravestones of ancestors on the family tree. The intention was that we could get photos of the stones, and if we were lucky find additional relatives we didn’t know of so we could extend the tree back further.

Having visited the graveyards it didn’t really leave us much time for visiting Bude, so as we passed through we picked up some food and carried on home. It was only 25 miles from Bideford so it was always an option to return there on another day. However that never came to pass as the next day we headed home, a few days earlier than intended meaning we wouldn’t get to see the Eden Project as we’d hoped either.

Devon Day 4 – Hartland Quay

The day started well, with a cooked breakfast, but we knew it was going to rain a lot today so made no real plans. After visiting some shops locally, and driving to both Bideford and Barnstaple we eventually settled on going to Bude, a town in Cornwall.

On the way to Bude we saw a sign for Hartland Abbey and changed our minds – we instead headed there and passed it to the Hartland Quay. This is a private piece of land that costs £2.00 to drive through, but if you follow the road to the end there is a car park outside a hotel and pub. Up until a little over 100 years ago there had been a quay here, hence the name, that had stood there since the days of King Henry VIII, but it had been washed away as the land around it eroded.

This area had been used in several big movies such as Treasure Island and Solomon Kane, and has also seen a number of shipwrecks on it’s jagged rocks (a type known as chevron folds, where the rock is upright). Whilst there I walked down the slipway and out across the rocks, hoping to try and get some photographs of these formations.

Before heading back we drank at the pub, and drove on towards the Hartland Abbey where BBC’s adaptation of Sense and Sensibility was filmed. With the rain still coming down hard though we decided it would be better for another day and so we continued on our way.


Hartland Abbey

Our next attempt was Clovelly, but again as there would be a lot of outdoor walking – up and down a hill my sister would need to manage in crutches, so we decided this would be best left for another day also. Having been a bit of a damp day (although personally I’d have been happy to do sightseeing in the rain), we went back to the cottage for the remainder of the afternoon. This did however give me chance to go through my photographs and make an attempt at organising them.

For the evening meal we went to the Waterside Inn in Westward Ho! where I had a Chicken New Yorker burger. Once I’d finished this I headed down to the beach for a while to watch the impressively big waves (which were even bigger than the night before) and dodging the incoming tide.

Devon Day 3 – Ilfracombe and Woolacombe

Being in training for another marathon meant an early start this day – I got up at 05:00 and once ready set off, running north in the general direction of Bideford. As I wasn’t too sure on directions, or where I could go I decided to stay on the same road for as long as possible and to then turn back once I reached approximately 5.5 miles. For almost 5 miles I actually managed to stay on this same road until I came across a T-junction where the River Yeo met the River Torridge. If followed this for a while before heading back to the cottage.

The route wasn’t too bad, certainly scenic, and it have me chance to get an idea of distances to different places around where we were staying. The hills weren’t as bad as they could have been either, but then I had noticed that the steep hills were the ones that diverted away from this main road. Not long after getting back to the cottage, whilst eating breakfast, it started to rain – something which had been forecast for the whole day.

We weren’t going to let the rain stop us though, we were still going to explore the surrounding area. For our first stop of the day we drove to Ilfracombe, a town north of us, along the coast. As we arrived in a car park along the harbour the rain got worse, so much worse in fact that a heavy thunderstorm rolled passed us – each blot of lightning could be felt from the car.

The storm started to pass, but the rain continued – after having sat there for about 30 minutes we decided we’d have a look around the town despite the rain. As I didn’t have a coat with me I darted from cover to cover to try and avoid getting too wet too soon. One of these stops was in a fudge shop where we bought some apple and mango fudge before moving on to a tea room. It was only £1.50 for a mug of tea and a biscuit so we sat and drank tea, and as we did so the rain finally came to an end.

Walking around the town and the bay the weather started to improve, and by the time we got back to the car park the sun was out and illuminating the statue of Verity in the harbour. This bronze statue overlooking the harbour was created by Damien Hirst. It is on loan to the town for 20 years starting from 2012, and is of a pregnant woman – you can see the unborn baby inside the stomach though, with it’s skin also peeled away to reveal the skeleton inside.


With the sunshine and the going out of the tide, it revealed a walkway underneath the statue that had been previously submerged completely underneath the waves. The weather had completely turned and was now looking promising that it would be a nice day.

Our next stop was in another seaside town called Woolacombe, this one however had expensive car parks – presumably because they expect visitors to stay all day – as we didn’t have all day we had our lunch there and then carried on – heading back to the cottage.


For some of the afternoon I sat around in the cottage’s garden, trying to photograph some of the wildlife but not really succeeding, After dinner I went for a walk along the path behind the garden but still didn’t really see anything close enough to photograph.

Comma butterfly

We then headed back out, to Appledore. Although listed as a historic port there didn’t seem to be a great deal there (and not much of a port), so we drove on and back to Westward Ho! where we stood watching the waves for a time. As the tide came in the waves crashed higher and higher against the rocks. With the waves like this, and for a second night running, it looked like this place was probably pretty good for people to surf.


Waves crashing in Westward Ho!

To finish the evening we sat and watched Shanghai Noon, a Jackie Chan movie.

Devon Day 2 – Dunster and Minehead

We started the day relatively early so we could be on the road and heading further south. It wasn’t that much further to get to where we were staying, but as we couldn’t get into the cottage until 16:00 it meant we had time to explore a little along the way. Our first stop of the day was in the medieval village of Dunster which has a tithe barn, yarn market and many other listed buildings. We didn’t stay there long though, and drove on to Minehead instead.

As we arrived in Minehead the shops were just starting to open, but we also noticed some steam trains as we entered the town – one of them looked like Thomas the Tank Engine. So we decided to follow the signs to the steam railway and parked up at the station. This station is very old fashioned looking and was filled with steam trains. Usually it’s free to walk onto the platform, but due to this day being a special Thomas the Tank Engine day it meant they were charging entry. From outside the platform we could still see quite a few trains made up to look like the characters anyway, including one diesel engine.

After a brief time spent looking at the sea we then headed back along the road to Dunster Castle as it was almost time for it to open. Before entering we took the time to have a cup of tea and by the time we were done it was open. My sister wasn’t able to walk much due to issues from DVT recently, so they took us up to the entrance to the castle in a courtesy vehicle to save her walking up-hill with crutches.

Dunster Castle was once the site of a motte and bailey castle on a hill called the Tor; since the 19th Century it is now a country house with gardens owned by the National Trust, and views of the Quantock hills. It didn’t really take that long to walk around the castle, so before we knew it we were back outside. I had a quick look at what they referred to as “the crypt” but it was actually a cellar that they were trying to link some ghost stories to.

After lunch we then continued driving on through Exmoor to another town called Lynmouth which sits either side of the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers as they flow out to the sea. Above this place was it’s sister town of Lynton, but we decided that as it was getting closer to 16:00 we wouldn’t really have time to see that too. We parked up in Lynmouth and walked around some of the old fashioned shops there – most of which were along a very narrow street you wouldn’t get cars down.

We then drove on to a seafront town called Westward Ho! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of it’s name). The town gets it’s name from a Charles Kingsley novel of the same name, and started it’s development in 1865, ten years after the book was first published. We didn’t stop here long, but decided we’d be back here in the evening as it wasn’t that far from where we’d be staying.

The Crooked Lake Cottage we’d be staying at is located near Packham and Bideford, and once there we were finally able to unload our luggage. Once we’d done, and settled in we headed back out to Westward Ho! to eat chips by the sea. In the time since we’d left the tide had come in quite a bit and was now hiding a lot of the beach we’d seen previously. For a while I sat and watched the waves as they got closer and closer, and stated to crash up the wall by the promenade.

Our first full day of the holiday had now come to an end.

Devon Day 1 – Leicester to Weston-super-Mare

I don’t often blog about trips around the UK, but this would be a trip to a part of the country I’ve never been to before. Originally the plan was to go to the north of France for the week but various factors prevented that and instead we ended up going to a place in Devon, close to the Cornwall border. This still interested me, even if not as much as France did, as it was a chance to spend a bit of time in Cornwall and to see both the Eden Project, and Tintagel.

Tintagel, also known amongst locals as Trevena, is home to a castle which is closely tied to the legend of King Arthur Pendragon. Although there was some settlement there at the time it was first written about by Geoffrey of Monmouth, it was until 1225 that a castle was built on this land – almost 100 years later. This is why I was interested in Tintagel.

As we’d all got the Friday afternoon booked off work due to the original plan it meant we could start the journey early and break it up a little. So that afternoon we drove down to Weston-super-Mare – something that took a little longer than normal due to heavy traffic.

When we got there we found our rooms were at the front of the hotel and facing the beach – a nice surprise as it’s quite rare for us to have rooms with a sea view. Before heading out we stopped at the restaurant downstairs – a Brewer’s Fayre, where I had a lasagna. Once we’d all eaten we then went for a walk around the town, but found the pier was closed for some reason. Instead we each went off to do our own thing, with me walking down to the beach to watch the tide come in.

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.