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!

Sunday, 23 October 2016


The sea at dusk; West Bexington, Dorset
West Bexington, Dorset
I was recently in Halifax. I'd not been before. And I was eating out. Something I rarely do.

The front of house staff seemed all to be university students and I wondered how far they'd had to travel to get to work. But the young man assigned to our table was still (surprisingly) at school - and assiduous in making sure we were happy with our food and happily chatty. We asked him what it's like to live in Halifax. It didn't sound wildly exciting - simply a pleasant place to live. We asked about town centre violence. He didn't seem to think there was any; though it sometimes gets a bit crowded, he said, outside the only late-opening chip shop.

Looking down on Chideock, Dorset
Looking down on Chideock, Dorset
He asked about Dorset.

Well, we had to admit, you need to be careful when you go into Weymouth. There are fights. There are knives. There are drugs. It's a great seaside town; a popular holiday destination. But people get drunk when it's dark. (And earlier.) They can be noisy and querulous.

Conical hill, ploughed field and sea taken from the path up to Golden Cap, Dorset
Looking across ploughed fields in shadow on the way up to Golden Cap, Dorset
But apart from that . . . Well, it's stereotypical English countryside only more dramatic: huge hills with soft grass; green valleys, sheep, cows, thatched roofs, cottages, cliffs and the sea.

Rural England has other stereotypes; calendar images of Essex, Sussex and Kent: village ponds and windmills and interesting Churches. They are all accurate. As are half timbered walls, bricks and flint. Then there's Stone Henge in Wiltshire. (But the plains of England are largely ignored.)

And there's London. Hm. London. London is London. It's not exactly 'England'.

South coast cliffs, the sea and an autumn hedgerow on the way up to Golden Cap, Dorset
Path and Cliffs from Golden Cap, Dorset
Talking with our waiter, I was a little embarrassed. Yorkshire covers a huge huge area of England. It's a strapping great band going from almost-the-sea in the West to the North Sea in the East. In the North and West there are tremendous hills, almost un-scalable. And plains which seem to go on for ever in the East. But for all that, I don't think these are the areas people in other parts of the world will first think of when they hear the word 'England'. It's odd. Because when we sing 'Jerusalem' (oh so very 'English'!) it's the hills and mills of places like Yorkshire we have in mind.

Cliffs and sea. Looking East from the top of Golden Cap, Dorset.
View East from the top of Golden Cap - the tallest cliff  on the South Coast of England. Dorset
In Halifax there are the skeletons of massive mills, a tangle of motorway style bridges and roundabouts, but no thatched cottages.  I'm used to looking out over great expanses of water. Halifax has reservoirs dotted around its outskirts but it doesn't have the sea. It doesn't even have a river.

If you are keen on water . . . In Todmorden (only a few miles west of Halifax) a woman told me it's not so much that you need to like rain to live there but that you have to enjoy swimming through air. And as last winter's floods showed - sometimes you'll find yourself wading up streets.

Pools of sunlight on the sea between Abbotsbury and Bridport, Dorset
Pools of light on the sea.
Taken from the road between Abbotsbury and Bridport in Dorset.
This is daytime and the photo is in colour.
Sometimes the sun is so bright neither your eyes nor your camera can accommodate
the Mediterranean blue of the English Channel here.

I like Halifax. Though I took no photos. (Another time!) Halifax has masses that our part of Dorset lacks. But being asked what Dorset is like . . .  I thought of the sea and the rivers and the cliffs and the hills . . . and for all that there's no-where like Yorkshire . . . there's no-where like Dorset either. And the thing about Dorset, as I've said before, hardly anyone knows it's here.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I really like that description "swimming through air". Have a good week.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Thanks, Happy Wonderer.

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased you are back in full flow with your blogging again!
I loved the line about "swimming through air".
I also adore your words and images of Dorset - my favourite place in all the world.
I haven't been to Halifax but I do know North Yorkshire, where my husband comes from. That has got a lot going for it, far more rural.
As for London, as you say, Hm. I get annoyed "the media" can't see beyond London (or in the case of the BBC now, Salford). I'm sure more than 90% of restaurant reviews in the national papers are in London.
Keep up the great work.
All the best :)

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Pat. It's good to blog - but I can't promise to be other than erratic still.
I've yet to visit North Yorkshire. I know of it from pictures and hope to explore properly some day. I suppose Manchester is to Yorkshire / Lancashire as London is to surrounding counties - but I like Manchester too and am sad I didn't have an opportunity to re-visit while (roughly!) in that area.

(Actually, I get a bit confused about Yorkshire - I have been to the North York Moors - but I think they are completely separate from 'North Yorkshire' - is that right?)

Katherine Ottaway said...

Luscious photographs, I am itching to travel. Thank you!

Down by the sea said...

I agree there is no where else like Dorset although it is not quite as hidden as it used to be! Lovely images of West Dorset too! Sarah x

Come Away With Me said...

Just catching up on your blog after a long while. So . . . you have moved to Halifax! I wish you all the best in your new venture. It sounds quite interesting. And I'll be very interested to see your photos and read what you have to say about it, as my great-grandfather and all that side of the family lived in Halifax and worked in the textile mills there and before that were I guess farmers in that part of York. Last name Hemingway, which I have read is a name native to that part of England. My great-grandfather and 2 brothers came to the USA in the late 1800's, but the rest of the family stayed there. Who knows, I probably have some distant cousins there even now.