Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sea views and pasties and beer round out trip to Dorset

Breakfast at Thatched Cottage was a bowl of huge fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries followed by a grilled kipper. What a great start to a day. It wasn't to be a day of healthy eating but I suppose that's what a trip to England is all about.

Early in the afternoon we set off for lunch. On the way we passed Corfe Castle, a fortification standing above the village of the same name on the Isle of Purbeck in the English county of Dorset. Built by William the Conqueror, the castle dates back to the 11th century. In its first phase it was one of the earliest castles in England to be built using stone when the majority were built with earth and timber. The castle has a chequered history and was eventually demolished in 1645. Today it is owned by the National Trust.

Soon we reached our destination, the Square and Compass, apparently the best pub in Dorset. It has been serving drink since 1776 and is right out of Thomas Hardy. The bar is a tiny hatch through which are served beer and ciders and two kinds of pasties, meat and veggie. Outside you squeeze onto a motley collection of stone or wooden benches. There were lots of locals there and the man sharing our table told us that he had served at a nearby WWII radar station during the war. He and his wife made a pilgrimage to the site at least once a year.

Satiated we went for a walk crossing some fields filled with brightly coloured yellow flowers, until we reached Chapman's Pool, a lovely cove surrounded by high cliffs. A narrow cliff top path brought us to the Royal Marines Association memorial garden at Emmetts Hill. This memorial was created following the IRA attack on the Royal Marines Barracks Deal, home and training centre for the Royal Marines Band Service, in 1989. A suitable site was chosen on an exposed headland looking out over the wild seas of Kimmerage Bay with a view down to Chapman's Pool and along the rugged Jurassic coastline to Portland. The site also overlooks a training area used by the Royal Marines both during WW2 and since, plus it fitted the beauty and tranquillity required for the memorial location.The original three-bar wooden rail fence has been replaced by a Purbeck stone wall to blend in with the stone walls of the area and gives better protection to the garden which is maintained by volunteers from the Poole and District RMA.

By this time we had to start heading back to Bournemouth. We had a quick stop at Tesco, which is like a Carrefour and generally to be avoided. We did get some Battenburg cake but it was quite sweet. It was time for an early dinner so we stopped at a pub, which couldn't seat six of us because those tables were reserved. They didn't seem to think they could put tables together either even though te place was empty at the time. They didn't have espresso, since their machine wasn't working and hadn't worked for five days, all related in a very whiny tone. They couldn't make tea because they didn't have a kettle or I suppose a pan. At this we decided to leave. It was a bit Pythonesque. Who knows what would have happened if we had tried to order food? I did notice that there were no TripAdvisor stickers evident anywhere. So much for service!

Back in the car we found a much nicer place on the other side of the airport. Their espresso machine worked and they were happy to serve us. I think the highlight of the trip was when Patricia, who won't mind me telling you is 92, asked for the batter I had carefully taken off my fish. She loves batter and seemed to relish every bit of it. I might add that she is no stranger to salt, sugar and cream in large quantities. Good genes go far.

We had a lovely two days in Dorset. We said our good byes and once again boarded our Ryanair flight for home.

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