Until July 2017, 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! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Thursday, 5 February 2015


Tree branches in Nothe Gardens overlooking Weymouth, Dorset
It was Janet at Plantelicious that gave me the idea. When she went out to find a new tree to follow she completed her walk with a visit to a coffee shop. "Brilliant!" I thought. "But I'll do it the other way round. I'll start with a coffee shop and work outwards."

So off I went to Weymouth, found a good coffee shop where the coffee is strong but you get a little jug of milk to top it up with and they sell meringue nests with cream and fresh fruit (ah!) and set out from there to find a tree.

This proved harder than I had expected. The first tree I came to was a Cordyline outside the council offices. There are masses of Cordylines along the coast of south west England. It makes us feel exotic. We call them Palm Trees even though they aren't. But the trouble with Cordylines is that they don't do much. Their tough leaves are there all year round. They shed them in circles from the bottom, a few each year as the tree grows taller. Their flowers are dramatic but ugly. They are like huge dead Christmas trees flung on them by vandals. My tree for the last year was difficult to follow. I enjoyed it. I really did. But I wanted an easier one this year.

Next was a scraggly, youngish tree by the marina. I wouldn't have minded this one because it's branches were low enough to examine. I wouldn't have minded the crane in the background or the council offices or the law courts - but it would have been hard not to include cars and people. (I try to avoid car registration numbers and people who have not given their permission to be photographed. Stopping every passer by would have been . . . totally hopeless.)

Disconsolate, I wandered back towards town, bought a tray of chips and went to sit by the water in the part of the harbour where the working boats are. Across it was the Nothe Hill with the Nothe Fort and and Nothe Gardens - and trees. Towering above the rest was a fan of branches. "That's what I'll follow!" I thought. And set off to find which trunk they belonged to.

Interlocking branches.
'My tree' is the one on the right - with its branches muddling with the one on its left.
To cut a long story short, I never exactly found it. Back to dejection. Evening was coming on. Light fading. But . . . do you find that some trees, some plants - some people for that matter - simply call to you? You see them (not necessarily across a crowded room) and think 'That's the one!'. It wasn't the right one, the one I'd tried to track down. Instead it was the one.

I don't think it's specially interesting. It has cars parked by it which means I can only take its picture from odd angles. and houses within view - I want neither in my pictures. Never mind.

There it is - in the picture at the top of the post. ( Taken the next day - I went back to check the 'the-ness'.)

But on that evening - 4th February 2015 . . . I took photos on my way back down to the water. I'll show you. It will give you a context for my March to March tree.

Condor catamaran in Weymouth seen through branches on Nothe Steps.
Near 'my' tree are some steps going down to the harbour. Across the way is the port where people embark to travel to the Channel Islands. It used to be possible to go to France too. But no longer.
And soon you won't even be able to go to the Channel Islands from Weymouth. It's something to do with a dispute between the company which runs the route and the council and money and the stability of the pier. But, for the moment - there's one of the cats seen through the trees from the steps.

Weymouth Esplanade seen through branches on Nothe Steps.

You can see the Weymouth esplanade from here too - and the town clock and the Ridgeway beyond. (A long hill which comes between Weymouth and Dorchester. If you go between the two on a train you go through a tunnel.)

Lampost and boat masts with twigs of tree.

At the foot of the steps - another tree. I was a bit tempted to follow this one but so much of it is swathed with ivy it has lost its shape.

Stone steps leading down to water in Weymouth Harbour.

And along by the harbour . . .

This picture has nothing to do with trees but I liked the steps people would use to go down to boats and the reflections in the water so I've flung it irrelevantly in.

Actually, everything is irrelevant from here on. It's simply an account of my walk along the harbour so you can see where I went - more context.

Fishing boats and lorry in front of Harbour Masters office on Weymouth harbour side.
And the context is, I reckon, pretty interesting. In summer the place is crowded with visitors. The beach is crammed with people building sandcastles and eating ice-creams. The first smell you smell when you get off the bus is not the sea but sun-cream. On a cold February evening it's different. It's peaceful, not frantic. Quiet, not filled with the noise of bands and festivals and people on holiday. But the work of a fishing port goes on. Across the water men were . . . either taking sacks of something out of a big white lorry or putting them in. (Remarkably informative post, this!)

Row of old houses.

Along a bit, beyond the Life Boat Station (which you would more easily see from the other side of the harbour) . . . a little street leads off to the left.

Looking down street paved with grey bricks and with Brewers Quay at the end of it.

The street lights are coming on now.

Down this street you can see 'Brewer's Quay' (the big red brick building with the tall chimney). First it was a Brewery. Then it was a pleasant, touristy shopping centre where you could buy fudge and see an exhibition about the history of Weymouth. (About how the Black Death of 1348 landed here and how stone from quarries on nearby Portland was taken to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666.) Then it closed for ages. Now it's an 'Emporium' - second hand shops, imported crafts, a sort of indoors tea-shop with the atmosphere of being outdoors . . . ).

Pavilion Theatre Weymouth seen through cluster of masts on the other side of the Harbour.
Looking back we see the Pavilion Theatre. This too is in trouble. (Hard times in Weymouth. It may be scenic but lots of shops have shut. Others come and go. Employment tends to be seasonal.) The funny white tower is 'The Weymouth Eye'. What a swizz! Other towns get big wheels. Weymouth gets something that looks like a crematorium chimney.

Looking up the middle of Weymouth Harbour as night falls.

And round a bit  more so we can look back to where we have come from. 'My' tree, though not visible among the others, is up there on the hill on the right. You can see the big catamaran straight ahead. You can see the 'Eye' and the theatre to the left of it. Come this way a bit but staying on the left (because we have been looking across from the pavement and road that's now on our right) you can make out the white lorry. I have a bit further to walk, then over a bridge to my chosen tea-shop. (Except it's closed.)

* * *

I hope you've enjoyed this evening walk. I hope the page didn't take too long to load. The pictures are generally reduced in quality so the page loads quickly but this time . . . what with it being evening . . . and with some of the pictures being specially worth enlarging . . . I've loaded them full size. Google reduces them somewhat but, hopefully, they are more detailed this way.

If you'd like to know more about Tree Following - even better to join in - there's lots of info. on the Loose and Leafy Tree Following Page.


Angie said...

You set out with a plan, mission accomplished!
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of Weymouth Harbour, part of the country I have never visited, so nice to see it.
We have many small fishing towns and villages around the Forth and many are now redundant and are now beginning to regenerate themselves in another guise.
Great post and I look forward to seeing more of your tree and the surroundings Lucy.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hi, Angie. The fishing still seems relevant but my guess is that it's a small part of the economy. I have a feeling Weymouth's lost its way. The theatre, for instance . . . it needed a lot of money to do it up so it more or less got abandoned till a group of enthusiasts rescued it. This is really important locally (there are some very good dramatic societies / pantomime groups / Gilbert and Sullivan) but the town could (I believe) benefit much from visits from more high quality touring companies too. There are no major exhibitions either . . . . I think Weymouth doesn't so much need to re-invent itself as to become more itself; to be more confident in its old fashioned south coast of England seaside town image.

Lyn said...

What a lovely place to have as a backdrop to your new tree. I look forward to watching it bloom! xxx

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Hurrah great choice, glad you found "the one", and I'm glad you did the coffee first, such an epic hunt required sustenance. And we get to see Weymouth through the year too! I checked on my tree today, in case the weather gets as bad as they are threatened, loads of snowdrops.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Lyn. There may be a hiccup in my backdrop idea. It may disappear once all the leaves are there.

Hello Janet. Snowdrops! Weymouth doesn't seem to be a very snowdroppy place. Nor crocuses. Daffodils will come in profusion later but I don't know why earlier flowers don't seem to like it around here. (Could it be too dry do you think?)

carolann said...

I like your pictures.
Love trees.

Great scenery plus with branches of trees.

Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams said...

I love the tour Lucy and the idea of following a tree for the year. I have started following a lamp post which just happens to have a couple of trees in the background. The different sun rises and now snow on the lamp post really sets off the sleeping trees! I'm looking forward to seeing how it changes throughout the year and the backdrop from the trees. Take care.

Down by the sea said...

So lovely to walk along the harbour with you. The harbour, the Nothe and Sandsfoot are the areas I miss the most. We don't often head over to Weymouth way now. I look forward to seeing your tree each month. Sarah x

Diana Studer said...

Did enjoy walking along with you, delightful along the river? Or is it a bay? Hmm mouth of the Wey river?

Anonymous said...

Interesting photos and description of a part of the country I've never visited. I love the idea of urban trees living for centuries while life in the towns surrounding them changes almost beyond recognition. Looking forward to reading about your new tree and its context in Weymouth.

Cathy Thompson said...

What a great opening for your new tree! I enjoyed so much ... but to think I decided to follow a tree in my own garden! The pictures of Weymouth look great (if only 'reduced' quality did that to mine). I've never been there so good to have a glimpse. Unfortunately, as a cat lover, I was busy looking for the 'cats' in one. (BTW I don't ever seem to be able to do the open ID thing - not just your blog)

colleen said...

This was balm on a cold morning, to see the sea AND your chosen tree for the first time. I haven't been to Weymouth for a long time, and you've made me want to get the train down. You never know...

liz said...

What an adventure! And we got to enjoy your tour of Weymouth as the background to your tree for 2015.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Thanks, Carolann.

Hi, Chel. I think following your lampost is a brilliant idea. (It seems to be in the same style as those in my Weymouth photos.) There are so many places which are worthy of 'being aware of'. When I was walking down the steps between 'my' tree and the harbourside I was taking photos of the fossils in the stones and noting the small plants along the sides. (Even the hand-rail for that matter!)

Hello Sarah. I'm sure you do miss some aspects of Weymouth but would be surprised if you didn't now get absorbed more into the life of West Dorset now you are there. It's not just West Bay . . . it's all the little lanes and . . . oh!

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Diana. The geography round here is almost impossible to explain. Even the land the town of Weymouth is built on has changed size and shape as areas of marshland have been claimed and bits of sea filled in!

The river Wey itself is short and small, with lots of little streams and rivulets suddenly converging in reed beds. The water which flows through these is then funnelled under a bridge and into the harbour which is big enough to contain a large marina for private sailing boats, a small fishing port, channel ferry provision and a small commercial port too. Although the sea swishes in and out of some of this - contributing a tidal element - it's still extraordinary how so much water can suddenly appear as if from no-where.

But yes, Weymouth is at the mouth of the River Wey and bang on the coast next to the sea proper rather than in an estuary. And because of the way all are arranged, buildings, sea and fresh water lie adjacent rather than sequentially.

I expect I will be able to use the location of this year's tree to show more of the town and explain something of its history. With it being an urban area, there aren't hedgerows and, although there are parks, I don't want to be too far sidelined in that direction.

However there are, inevitably, lots of street plants. And, as wild plants, definitely belong on this blog.! I hope I will be able to include them - and the reed beds / bird reserves too for that matter.

Bother - I'm setting myself up for lots of outings and long walks. Oh . . . and exploring coffee shops do you think?

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Sarah at Down by the Sea - do you think my explanation to Diana has in any way managed to convey the geography of Weymouth? Do add to it if you would like!

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Catherine. I arrived to live in Weymouth by chance and have, since then, been astonished how little it is known and visited.

About the age of trees in towns - I don't know how old this particular tree is but not terribly old I would think. Certainly not ancient. (I think when no-one is looking I'll need to measure round its trunk. The girth of a tree adds so much to its description.)

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Cathy T. . . . the pictures I usually show on this blog are reduced. This post is an exception.

About 'cats' - I hesitated over whether I should stick to 'catamaran' or its more common abbreviation of 'cat'. Sorry to have disappointed you that there was nothing furry or purry in sight!

About the Open ID . . . I don't use one. (I can't remember why I didn't get on with it when I tried.) But you are able to leave comments via Blogger and that leads us successfully to your blog. (As long as one clicks 'Web Page' rather than 'France' - which takes one off in an odd direction.)

I have a Word Press ID as well as a Blogger one. Between them they seem to cover everything except blipfoto.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hi Colleen - about visiting Weymouth. Did you know there are day trips from London by steam train in the summer? I don't know how long the journey takes that way so you might find you have to go back almost as soon as you arrive - but it would be fun.

Expect you'd want to have time though to visit the Sub-tropical Gardens at Abbotsbury . . . and Chesil Beach . . . and have time to paddle and take a boat along the Jurassic Coast and . . .

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Liz. I realise from other comments that perhaps I will need to say more about Weymouth itself through the year. More tours of its different aspects?

Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable post, and wonderful pictures.
I have visited there in the past but not recently. Flighty xx

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Mike. I doubt Weymouth has changed much since you were here. The only big deal difference in my eyes is that when the sailing Olympics came to Portland the bright, primary coloured stripy beach stalls on Weymouth beach were replaced with grey ones and the fairy lights along the promenade were changed to laser beams. This is a great deviation from the English seaside spirit and rather dreary - otherwise . . . the roundabout and the donkeys are there still in the summer!

Philip Strange said...

I have always liked Weymouth, we used to go there for the beach when I was a child and I also spent many a happy hour trainspotting at the station.
It's a place of contrasts now with the posh marina and the closed shops which is a pity.

Caroline Gill said...

I so enjoyed this post, Lucy. I'm still undecided as to whether to stick with my Silver Birch or find a Plan B!

Sue Garrett said...

If you do end up with number plates you could blur them if you have a photo editor. Some great photos by the way

Hollis said...

Neat to see your neighborhood! The last photo is wonderful, wow. I grabbed it to add to my collection of stolen wallpaper :-)

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Philip. Place of contrasts includes summer business and winter emptiness.

Hello Caroline. I couldn't let go of come trees and kept visiting them all until my list grew too long and I had to have a cull.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Sue. I've tried blurring but my blurs look more like blotches. Perhaps I should practice?

Hollis - so pleased you like that last picture as wallpaper - it's my current wallpaper too!

Anonymous said...

wonderful wander around Weymouth in the company of your camera and gift for observation Lucy. Yes trees definitely call out though we may not hear them - it must have seen you coming from up on that hill

Anonymous said...

Great post. I do so love Weymouth and Nothe Fort!
Is the Monkey's Fist Restaurant still there in Hope Square? Ideal for lunch after a long walk!
I like the shape of your tree, but did I miss something along the way, or have you not named its species yet?
Looking forward to another great year of tree following with you :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the tour of Weymouth. As I recall, it's the setting for Jane Austin's "Persuasion"--I love Jane Austin.

Diana Studer said...

reed beds and bird reserves please?