Five Go Down To The Sea (with a respectful nod to Ms E Blyton)

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It’s been a little while since my last blog, with winter blues, a lack of travelling and general idleness on my part all conspiring to squash my updates. So the opportunity to spend a long November weekend in Dorset with a couple of mates, both with forces backgrounds plus two dogs(hence the 5!), seemed a suitable way to find something to write about. Although we would be travelling from deepest darkest N Wales in the Chucklebus, mainly for ease of the dogs, the accommodation was to be found in the Ponciau Princesse’s Summer Residence located at Bovington (see previous blogs). 

We set off early on the Thursday morning, following a full brief from the “Other Half” on…

(a). Standards of Behaviour,

(b). Alcohol and its effects on the over 50’s

and finally

(c). The Mutt and the dire consequences for me, if he came to harm whilst under my supervision!!!!

.….all of which I of course immediately forgot about, except for point “C”.

For the road spotters and serious travellers amongst us, we travelled along the M54/M6 Toll/M42/M40/A34/M3/M27/A31 arriving in Bovington in just under 5hrs…Not bad going.

The first night found the three of us tucked up in a local bar, destroying bottles of cheap red wine, whilst Mutts(no nuts) and his female doggy companion Ffion snuggled up together, back at the Bovington Loveshack.

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Ffion and the Mutt.

The next day, after fully dealing with the wrongs of the world the night before, we emerged blinking into the sunlight, dehydrated, dishevelled and worse for wear…It was that last bad bottle of Port that finally finished me off!

Anyway, up and at em! So we headed off to Portland Bill, of particular interest was the Verne Citadel, whose fortifications had guarded this part of our sceptred isle since the mid 1800’s with it high angle battery of artillery. Its a great place to get stunning views of the coastline, the impressive Chesil Beach and of course Weymouth which is nestled below.

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Chesil Beach, a natural wonder of the world, that acts as a barrier to the pounding waves of the Atlantic.

Additionally the Citadel also housed an infantry battalion, indeed at the onset of the Great War in August 1914, my own regiment’s 2nd Bn was housed here, before making the step across to the horrors that awaited them in France & Flanders.

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A Royal Welch Fusilier on sentry duty 1914.
Picture: Courtesy Geoff Kirby. http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/PortlandAchivePictures/index.html

Nowadays the Citadel is partly used by HM Prisons as a Young Offenders Institute, the Citadel no longer houses the military, however it’s still possible to walk around the fortifications, it’s a fascinating place to visit, steeped in our recent military history.

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The Citadel today.

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The view down to Portland from the Citadel.

 OK, military history visit now over, the guys and the 2 dogs were starting to get bored with my army reminisces…Scoff Time! Now you would think 3 blokes, 2 dogs, hungover and hungry, the nearest Maccy D’s would suffice?….WRONG…Only the best for us;  The Crabhouse Cafe is a small fish restaurant tucked in behind Chesil Beach at Wyke Regis: http://www.crabhousecafe.co.ukImage

Highly recommended, even by Rick Stein, one of our group had been unusually sensible and exceeded all of our low expectations of him and booked a table prior to the previous evenings shenanigans. So feeling smug with ourselves we piled in. Wow, very nice…Basic inside, its very understated, its the food here that takes centre stage and it doesn’t fail to impress.

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Starters: Fried Spratts, Mussells and a Thai Fish Soup

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Main Course: John Doore, Baked Hake and Lemon Sole

All polished off with a decent white….Very nice. We followed this with a bracing walk along Chesil Beach. The wind was up and the waves were really hitting the beach with force. This is where the Dambusters did their final testing of the bouncing bomb, prior to the main raid. You can understand why this area was chosen, the shingle beach really is a high banked natural dam and ideal for replicating the targets at the Mohne Dam.

The dogs enjoyed it as well, although they were very wary of the power of the incoming waves.

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Looking up to the Verne Citadel above Portland Bill, from Chesil Beach

Evening: Quiet night in! More Wine…..Homemade Pork Vindaloo….Methane levels = High

Next day, up with the larks and off to Studland at the Isle of Purbeck, an area of outstanding beauty. Although not an island, its 60sq mile of land is surrounded by the sea on three sides, which does give it an island feel. It juts out into the sea south of Bournemouth and Poole, acting as the southern breaker wall into Poole Harbour. Lots of interesting walks in the area and some great beaches, and for those of you slightly bolder in your bathing habits; designated naturist areas.

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As you walk along the cliffs you can see out to the Isle of Wight, just visible through the mist. You can also look in towards Poole Harbour, the immediate area is dominated by Brownsea Island, which is also the celebrated site of Baden-Powells Scouts first ever campsite. It was also the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s book “Whispering Island”. She based many of her stories in this part of Dorset, which perhaps gives the area a familiar feel to anyone who read her books as a child.

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The chalk cliffs of the Isle of Wight, just visible

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Next Stop France! From the cliffs of Studland

One location of interest is Harry’s Rock’s, a series of three chalk stacks and stumps that emerge from the sea off the headland of Purbeck

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Harrys Rocks

Wiki states the following:

“There are two stories about the naming of the rocks. One legend says that the Devil (traditionally known euphemistically as “Old Harry”) had a sleep on the rocks.

Another local legend says that the rocks were named after Harry Paye, the infamous Poole pirate, who stored his contraband nearby. These could be linked as Harry Paye could have been considered as the devil and could well have slept on these rocks.”

Whatever the truth, they make  great photos:

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Finally we finished the walk with a decent pint at the Bankes Arms Studland. A lovely old country inn, with a good selection of local beers and food: http://www.bankesarms.com/index.php

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Picture courtesy: Roy Farr

That pretty much concludes the “Boys Own” trip away, although in comparison to previous trips in my younger days I’m certainly slowing down…No dancing girls, In bed mainly by 11pm, sensible eating, plenty of exercise, I definitely do “Boring”…great trip.

That is all.

3 Comments

Filed under Trips - 2013

3 responses to “Five Go Down To The Sea (with a respectful nod to Ms E Blyton)

  1. Ian Kelsey

    .Lovely report as ever…..Bill Bryson eat your heart out.

  2. Chelsea (leannes chelsea!)

    This is brilliant…. Sounds like one of our hangovers!!

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