Coast at Lyme Regis

Autumn beauty in Dorset and Devon

England was resplendent in its autumn colours for the last two weeks of my stay. My sister and I rented a house between Teignmouth and Torquay for a small family gathering. The house was located on a hill with a beautiful view of the Devon coast. It had a large kitchen table that was perfect for family chats and catching up on the news.

View from the house
View from the house
Sunrise
Sunrise

On one day, we made a foray into Torquay and had a walk along the beachfront. On another one we caught the small ferry from Shaldon over the estuary to Teignmouth and explored that small coastal town. We also enjoyed walks in the late afternoon across the fields to the undulating Coastal Path. I would love to have hiked more but there was not enough time and my cousins were not as enthused with the idea as I was!

I spent my last weekend with friends in Weymouth. We took a day trip to Bridport, where we explored the market, and then drove on to Lyme Regis. All the boats were high and dry in the harbour as the tide was at its lowest ebb. Rock formations and sand patterns were exposed on the beach. The sun was out, but the wind was bitter as we strolled along the Cob wall. It didn’t deter the large number of people wandering around and one or two even ventured into the cold water. We didn’t linger but returned to the high street and bought pasties for lunch. These we ate as we walked along, guarding them from the marauding seagulls that have been known to snatch ice creams and sandwiches from the arms of babes!

The Cob at Lyme Regis
The Cob at Lyme Regis

The following morning, after completing my first ever lino print under my friend’s guidance, we walked down to the beach where a race track had been constructed. Approximately 140 motor bikes were competing against each other in various noisy races. There were a few breakdowns but no accidents or injuries. Somehow, the riders avoided collisions. The wind blew straight at the spectators and sand blasted our faces. We returned home with it in our ears and hair but the event had been fun to watch.

Motor bike racing on the beach
Motor bike racing on the beach

Traffic, traffic and more traffic!

Friday afternoon motorway traffic at Winchester
Friday afternoon motorway traffic at Winchester

I left Norwich on Friday and headed down the A11 to meet Geoff and Ginny, friends from way back when, at a hotel near Stanstead. There, we had coffee that extended into a most enjoyable lunch, sitting next to the duck pond. Unfortunately, the hotel was right under the flight path so it got a little noisy periodically!

Afterwards, it took an unbelievable 5 hours to reach Weymouth. I was anticipating the M25 and M3 being slow but hadn’t considered the time I would arrive at the Winchester bypass and the consequent traffic. To say I was pleased to arrive in Weymouth is probably a slight understatement but the journey served as a reminder as to why I choose not to live in England anymore.

Saturday was spent in a far more relaxed manner. After a leisurely breakfast, we drove out to Lulworth Cove and walked to the next cove, in the opposite direction to the one all the tourists were taking to toil up the steep cliff path to Durdle Door. It was a good decision, as we met no one else on the track itself and the only people in the cove seemed to have arrived by boat.

We sat on the beach for a while, eating our sandwiches and admiring the chalky cliff faces and the unusual stratified rock formations. When it looked as though it was about to start raining, we set off back to Lulworth, where it was now extremely busy. As ice cream is an essential part of any visit to the seaside, we queued up with everyone else so that we could indulge ourselves (blackcurrant and cream is highly recommended!).

Sunday saw me on the move again. This time, I was flying to Knock (Ireland), from Bristol to stay with my sister. The journey was, once again, quite slow, and I only just returned the hire car in time. (Following the GPS lady’s instructions, I had also managed to bypass the petrol station that I would normally have used and ended up driving some distance to find another one. Sometimes, it is not wise to follow all her advice!)

Bristol Airport was the busiest I had ever seen it but everything went smoothly and it wasn’t long before I was airborne. It is only an hour’s flight, so the transition from the beautiful sunshine of England to the cold and grey of west Ireland was very quick. The weather has been variable ever since. We have had a couple of trips into Sligo and one to Enniskillen in ‘The North’, but, otherwise, time has been spent relaxing at home, which is also needed from time to time.

We did manage to get a couple of visits to the beach but Strandhill was a bit too wet and wild when we arrived for our walk so we sat in the car and ate ice creams instead! However, Russ, Minnie (the dog) and I went for a lovely walk at Dunmoran on Friday afternoon when the sun finally came out. The beach is very long and is part of Sligo Bay so we could look across to the mountains of Donegal. It was very revitalising. And Minnie enjoyed chasing a stick! Sadly, there were no ice cream shops.

Family time

Milborne Port

8 August

The next few days were spent with the family. My sister arrived from Ireland so we tried to help Mum a bit and visited Dad.

Milborne Port

11 August

Rose and I had a day out in London today. We caught the 9.30am train to Waterloo, arriving at about 11.45am. Our plan was to go to the Tate Modern to see the Matisse Cutout exhibition, on to Kensington to see the Travel Photography exhibition and then to Oxford Street for some shopping. With hindsight, this was probably a little over ambitious given that the two exhibitions were in quite different directions from each other!

Start of the Big Day Out!
Start of the Big Day Out!

We firstly walked along the South Bank to the Tate and started queueing to buy tickets. It was at this point that we decided that we didn’t want to be in a crowded exhibition that cost quite a lot and we probably wouldn’t understand anyway, so we abandoned that idea and set off for Kensington.

London skyline
London skyline
Imax and the Children's Hospital
Imax and the Children’s Hospital
Inside the Tate Modern
Inside the Tate Modern

As Rose does not go on tube trains, ever, we crossed the Millennium Bridge so that we could catch a bus from the Strand. Unfortunately, when we were at our most exposed on the bridge, the skies opened and the rain poured down. This was to be a pattern for the rest of the day, with beautiful blue sky one minute and torrential rain the next.

Busker on the South Bank next to the Millennium Bridge
Busker on the South Bank next to the Millennium Bridge
The Shard in the rain
The Shard in the rain

Once on the bus, we discovered that they do not accept cash on London Transport, (very user friendly!) so we then had to go to the underground station to buy a day ticket. This seemed slightly unreasonable as it was expensive if you were only going to do one or two trips. (We took as many buses as we could afterwards to make the most of the cost.) Having wasted two hours by this time, we finally reached Kensington!

Gate to the Inner Temple
Gate to the Inner Temple
Entrance to the City of London
Entrance to the City of London

The photography exhibition at the National Geographical Society was well worth the trip, however, and we both really enjoyed it, coming away feeling very inspired. Luckily, the sun was shining at this point as the whole exhibition was in the garden. From there, we caught the bus to Oxford Street, amidst torrential rain, once again, where our first stop was the Marks and Spencer’s cafe for a resuscitating pot of tea and cake (large), before visiting the men’s slipper department to buy slippers for Dad who has mysteriously lost one!

London bus
London bus
A window in Selfridges
A window in Selfridges

We wandered down Oxford Street, which was absolutely jam packed with people, the volume of which neither of us could cope with, country bumpkins that we are, so caught the bus to Piccadilly Circus to go to the Superdry shop for Rose to buy a hoodie for her son. The service in the shop was painfully slow and when we eventually left (in torrential rain once again), we were wondering whether we were going to miss the 7.20pm train.

Very crowded Oxford Street
Very crowded Oxford Street

Luckily, we didn’t have long to wait for a bus but it progressed very slowly through heavy traffic to Waterloo. We boarded the train with about 5 minutes to spare. It was fairly crowded but, apparently, not as much as during term times, so we were able to get seats quite easily. The trip home was uneventful and we arrived back at the house at about 9.45pm, both very tired after a long day and much walking.

Milborne Port

13 August

After a quiet day yesterday, Rose was returning to Ireland today, so we had a trip to Bristol Airport via Street, for shopping, and Weston Super Mare, where our brother lives. As I spent a bit longer in Street than I intended, we were quite late getting to Adrian’s and consequently didn’t quite have as much time for lunch at the pub as we anticipated. I ended up taking Rose to the airport, as she was anxious about missing the flight, and then returning to the pub for lunch where the lunch party was slightly depleted after a bit of a disagreement.

We returned to Adrian’s for coffee and then drove over to Yeovil to visit Dad. I am plagued with closed roads at the moment, though, as there seem to be repairs happening on half of Somerset’s roads. We had a couple of detours to make before eventually arriving at the nursing home. Dad had just finished having supper and was very confused and upset for a while. However, he perked up a bit and was amused to tell us that he had won two prizes at Bingo when he had been asleep the whole time!