Documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

FIRST OF THE 'ABOUT's - WEYMOUTH

In the last post on Loose and Leafy, I said I would sometimes give you an idea of what South Dorset is like; what people do here, what the shops and houses are like - as well as a better idea of the wider habitat of the plants. It's nice to have a context, I think.

It's really Barbee who, inadvertently, gave me the idea. I've been reading her blog almost from when it started and have seen her beautiful and interesting garden as it goes through its seasons, hearing of how she works and what her garden helpers do to keep it changing and in good order. Occasionally, she has mentioned neighbours but . . . I have begun to wonder what is over her garden wall.

Weymouth Horses live on roundabouts
- and race in circles.
Barbee lives in Kentucky. I know Kentucky is in the U.S.A. but I need a map to show me where. I have a vague idea there are horses in Kentucky but . . . well . . . that's it. I don't know whether there are mountains or forests or a sea line . . . I'd better look at that map! I don't know what its economy is like, its politics, anything.

Of course, those matters are beyond the normal scope of a gardening blog (which hers is) but, nevertheless,  . . . I find myself intrigued.

Therefore, as part of the 'context' for the plants here, I will, from time to time, show you more of what it is like to live this part of England - and I will begin with Weymouth because it is the biggest town in South Dorset. (And 'big', I assure you, is not very large at all!)

* * *

Most people who visit the area in which I take most of the photos for Loose and Leafy would be amazed that plants and trees are its centre of interest. Of those who swell the population of Weymouth from a population of 67,000 to 200,000 during the summer months, very few will be looking dor dandelions.

Dorset is predominantly rural with woods and hills and fields and farms and its coastline is one of the most dramatic in England - but Weymouth itself (the biggest town in the county apart from the conurbations and retirement areas on the Hampshire border to the East) is the kind of stereotype of an English seaside resort one might not expect still to exist - sea and sand and donkey rides and stripey huts on the beach where tourists and holiday makers can buy ice-cream and candyfloss; roundabouts for children and grown-ups alike and small-scale scary rides for the brave.

There are areas of poverty, of course, and, in winter especially (because holiday flats fall empty) people are  drawn here too when they are rootless or troubled, recently released from prison and wondering where to go or with lives wrecked by addiction.- but that is not its most obvious face from outside.

I find crowds difficult and avoid town when the Kite Festival or Carnival or Christmas 'Show Night' (newly named 'Sparkle') fill the streets almost to crammed-up-full point. None the less, Weymouth is an important part of South Dorset - its atmosphere, its reputation and contribution to the regional economy so here, as a 'starter post' is a glimpse of its harbour. (I'm letting you in gently!)


This is the view as you would see it if you were arriving from the English Channel. On the very left, the rowing boat is a ferry for crossing the harbour. (There's a bridge further along.) Straight ahead is the Lifeboat (with the orange top) and the big boat with masts is The Pelican - a training ship.

This is a working harbour. Fishing boats moor further along.


Weymouth has a small commercial port. You can also take a Condor Lines catermaran from here to Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands and to St Malo in France.


Although, as you can see by comparing its size with the terminal, this is a large boat, it is not the largest on this line.


These are the backs of some of the bed and breakfast hotels, facing out onto the harbour. People staying in them are immediately by the scenes in the photos so far but, in a couple of minutes, they can walk to restaurants and pubs beside the harbour and watch the town bridge go up and down so yachts with tall masts can make their way into the inner harbour (or 'marina'). (It lifts just like Tower Bridge in London - only this bridge is VERY much smaller!).


As an anti-social person, I try to avoid the harbour when it is like this; the beach too (which I will introduce in another post, some other time). I like it when cold has driven people away and left sandcastles to the birds


and while most people are watching boats and kites and carnivals and eating ice-creams, I prefer to look at dandelions on the way home.


(Don't worry, the next post will be back to normal - but I thought you might like a glimpse of the 'other side'.)

P.S. - When I went to collect the URL for Barbee's blog, I discovered that, by an extraordinary co-incidence, Barbee has posted about farming in her temperate zone!

12 comments:

Helen said...

Thank you for the tour of Weymouth -- which always reminds me of a Jane Austen novel. What a pretty town. Now I can picture what it might mean to go to Weymouth to recruit my health!

Dancin' Fool said...

Great post! I really enjoyed that. I envy you your coastal location and share your love of the coast and resort in the winter months, when the crowds are gone.

Thanks so much for your visit to The Green Man and the link on related blogs, I would love a logo to go with it and have some pictures which may work well. Let me know if you want me to send a picture.

For now Happy Wednesday to you!

Dancin' Fool said...

Hi Lucy, thanks for your response, I will send you an image shortly. In the meantime I wanted to invite you to join In Bloom and share some of your wonderful images of flora on a weekly basis, you may also find some other like minded bloggers. The explanatory post is up now. I really hope you decide to join in. Bye for now!

http://the-greenman.blogspot.com/

Ron Eklof said...

Great post, Lucy. Had to use a map to find where Weymouth is. It seems a charming place to be. A place where tenacious dandelions grow.

Barbee' said...

Lucy! How delightful! Of course I do not mind the reference, and thank you for the link, etc. Your header photo is so gorgeous and large that I gasped with pleasure when I loaded your post. I, too, share your dislike for large crowds. I do not like cities. Maybe if I had been born and reared in one it would be different for me, but I'm basically an outdoor girl who takes pleasure in quiet places, dandelions, and wildlife both fauna and flora. Your thoughts on describing ones locale are intriguing. I need to think about that for a bit. Thank you for such an interesting, educational, and thought provoking post.

Mark Willis said...

Fascinating stuff. I hope the Weymouth Tourist Board has read this!
You should tell people some stuff about Weymouth's history too.

Elephant's Eye said...

That was fun. Armchair travelling IS normal blogging.

Toffeeapple said...

Hello Lucy, I've just become a follower, having read quite a few of your posts in the past. I did enjoy your introduction to Weymouth, somewhere that I haven't been to for too long, I must remedy that in the Autumn, after the crowds have gone.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Wonderful! I love getting a better sense of context for where people blog from. Its why I loved Les' Winter Walk-off Challenge. And I love Weymouth - when not so overcrowded, I'm with you on the massed people thing, the best beaches are empty, or almost. I grew up knowing from family holidays that on arrival at any beach you walk to the far end from the car park and ice-cream van to obtain relative peace. My favourite way to explore Weymouth is by boat, though I've not sailed there for a few years now. Look forward to the next installment.

Rowan said...

This was really interesting, I spent a week in Dorset in 2009 but stayed in Iwerne Minster and didn't get down as far as the coast. Like you I don't enjoy crowds at all and prefer wandering round places when they are quiet.

Pat Tillett said...

I love these posts Lucy! Very different for you, but the words and photos are fantastic!
I'm from Kentucky and my family is still there...

Lucy said...

Hello Helen. It's rather nice that you associate Weymouth with Jane Austin. She's usually linked with Lyme Regis (a little further to the west) while Weymouth gets George lll.

(On the other hand, he invented sea-side holidays (sort of) so that's a pretty good thing!)

Hello Dancin Fool. Glad you liked the first post about the area. The next one is up now -

'Lights and Bells and Mists and Flowers'

http://looseandleafy.blogspot.com/2011/04/lights-and-bells-mists-and-flowers.html

It is, indeed, a special thing to live near the sea.

I'll bear your Bloom idea in mind. If the dates coincide with any particularly flowery posts, I'll see about adding mine to the list.

Battery going on laptop - will reply to more later.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh . . .

Lucy