So September. The weather finally broke – Huzzah. Being fair skinned I’ve never been very good in heat, but throw the menopause into the heady mix, and it’s a one way ticket to meltsville via heat induced spontaneous combustion! So yes, I’m all about the more bearable weather.
Just before we headed to Bournemouth I not only has a recruitment fair in London to attend I also had a work related drinks reception at the Ashmolean Museum. This was for the out going class and their families and ended up being over 900 people, it was completely mental, spread over 4 levels of the museum with drinks and snacks involved. It was hot, tightly packed and incredibly noisy, with lots of museum staff poised to pounce due to said drinks and snacks in close proximity to priceless exhibits. I’ve never really understood the idea of drinks receptions in museums, but I guess it’s a way to diversify and make money? After getting hemmed in a couple of times and failing to even get close to scoring a drink, I volunteered to relieve colleagues on the registration desk, which meant a bit of relative quiet, a breeze from the open door and more importantly a sit down.
The next day I had an extra day off work before we headed off on holiday, mainly to run errands and pack. I also took the opportunity to sort out my wardrobe which was back at that point of not being able to fit anything else in it any more. I’ve gone up a size since lockdown so I was quite brutal with the things I can no longer fit in, and know realistically I’ll probably never wear again. There were other things I couldn’t bear to get rid of, so I just moved them to the back in the hopes I will get my arse in gear and lose some weight.
The day we headed to Bournemouth the weather was very mixed. Thankfully it stayed dry for the walk to the train station. There is something quite nice about being sat inside a speeding train when the rain is hammering against the windows isn’t there? I had a huge hot tea to drink and a good book to read = bliss.
Whilst we were on the train the guesthouse called to check when we were arriving. They had also emailed me three times that week to check when we were arriving, so clearly there was a lack of communication somewhere along the line! Anyway, I confirmed again we would arrive for the start of Check-in at 2pm and the voice on the phone said he should be there to meet us in person, but they would let me know if they were called away. We arrived at about 12.30, the plan being to walk from the station in Bournemouth to the seafront and eat the sandwiches I had packed for us on the beach. We did manage this, in the teeth of a howling gale which wasn’t quite what I had envisaged when I had the plan.
Whilst at the beach my phone rang again and it was the guy from the guesthouse saying he had been called away, but our room was all ready and he would send me the details of how to let ourselves in. It started to rain again at this point so we decided as the room was ready now we would head straight there.
We arrived and had the fun of me trying to read the instructions on how to activate the keypad to get in without my glasses, whilst Himself scanned his palm then typed in numbers. Once inside the front door, our room turned out to be up 3 flights of stairs at the top of the house. Here we found the door had a key safe on the outside, so another code gave us the key to let ourselves into the room and inside was our keycard for the front door. All very high tech!
The description had said full breakfast included but this actually turned out to be a room downstairs with a fridge, toaster and kettle and basic provisions to make your own tea, toast and cereal. So not exactly what we had expected. In fact, we never actually saw any staff the whole time we were there, it was quite bizarre. Our room wasn’t serviced, I just got a text 3 days in to our stay to ask if there was anything we needed!
With hindsight I would not stay there again, not because of that, but because it was slap bang in the middle of town and on the same street as a bar and nightclub. I was woken up and then kept awake until daylight by drunken revellers and taxis with their engines running and frankly I’m too old for that shit.
The weather on the Thursday was very windy with heavy showers so we headed into town and mooched the shops, well what’s left of them. Bournemouth town centre is sadly rundown, even more so than last year. I come to the conclusion it’s because the majority are huge units which once empty are hard to fill again. It seems to me that high streets with smaller shop fronts seem to fair better when it comes to regeneration.
We decamped to the pub.
Our first night tradition is to get chips and eat them on the beach watching the sun go down, but as it was pouring again we decided to go the Harry Ramsden’s and sit in.
From there we could see the pier and it was via their rolling screen that we read the Queen had died. The sad news kind of fitted with the weather. I’m neither one way or the other with royalty, but it’s kind of weird to think a figurehead who has been there my whole life has now gone. As someone tweeted, James Bond is no longer on her majesty’s secret service…
We walked back to the guesthouse via Tesco Metro for a bottle of wine and encountered this art installation outside the library called Airship Orchestra.
It was very cool. I loved the chilled atmosphere, with changing lights and very chilled music. A local café had taken the initiative to stay open late serving juice and hot chocolate to the children, and beer and wine to the adults. As you can imagine they were doing a roaring trade!
The next day we had planned to catch the bus to Swanage and do a circular walk from the high street to Dancing Ledge, then mooch round lovely Swanage before our dinner booking at a restaurant in Poole we wanted to try.
We sat on the top of the open topped bus on the way there so of course it started raining, but we had wet weather gear and it wasn’t too heavy so all was good. Unlike the woman in front of us who opened an umbrella which was instantly mangled the minute the bus picked up speed!
For the start of the walk it absolutely hammered down for about 10 minutes then stopped. Half an hour later it did it again, but again stopped, this was basically the theme for the day. The walk passes through Dalston Country Park which seemed very beautiful from what we saw of it.
Whilst there I spotted a sign for the South-West Coastal Park which pointed towards Dancing Ledge so even though it wasn’t our planned route I said let’s go this way.
Himself demurred but I insisted….
As I said to him later, when it comes to the South-West Coastal Path that’s twice I’ve done this now with disastrous consequences. I’ve given him permission that if I ever say it would be a good idea to walk some of it again, just please tell me to shut the fuck up.
So, it was fine at first other than the wind and occasional heavy rain. Then the path narrowed and got slightly hilly but was still fine. It was a couple of miles in that we hit the mud, all kinds of mud. Thick coating mud that clagged your boots and made them weigh a tonne. Lethal slippery mud that made it near impossible to stay upright. Cold , wet, oozing mud that soaked through your boots, you name it we had to pass through it. By this point we had gone too far to go back.
The going got tough very, very tough, not helped by the weather. We were covered in mud by this time and as we were too far along to be able to turn back, we agreed we would have to head to the shops in Poole to buy clean clothes and change before dinner. Himself was quite rightly livid with me and stomped off ahead.
I managed to lose my footing trying to climb a slope that was basically a mud slide and slid all the way back down again on my hands and one knee. By this point the rain was literally horizontal and frankly I could have sat down and bawled my eyes out, but I ploughed on.
I caught Himself up and grizzled at him for not even noticing I had fallen over, so we paused for me to try and clean myself up and to take stock. We figured we had to be fairly close to our destination after all this time and effort so gritted our teeth and carried on. I fell over again, this time sliding onto my backside, but finally there was light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of a sign post saying we had half a mile to go. With renewed hope we rounded a corner and were faced with a vertical slope. The water and mud was pouring down it like a river, there was no way we would get up it and there was no way we could face trying to go all the way back. In desperation I edged sideways along the cliff and by chance I spotted a rough track to one side where the goats & sheep who roam the hillsides had gone before us. We figured it was that or nothing so cautiously we managed to scramble up by grabbing handfuls of grass and praying they would take our weight and not send us plummeting back down, thankfully they did. We made it to Dancing Ledge. I could have cried again.
I tried to clean myself up a bit whilst Himself went down to take a look at it.
We then trudged wearily up the hillside, with plenty of stops for me and my poor unfit lungs until we got to the summit.
From there we firmly took the track we were meant to have followed in the first place back to Swanage. Once there we decamped to some public toilets to clean up a bit. My poor walking boots, beloved veterans of many adventures, had given up the ghost part way through. So I was shuffling about with one sole flapping and soaking wet feet. We bought a drink and an ice cream to celebrate but didn’t really have the time to do much browsing of shops because the walk had taken so long, also I’m not sure we would have been very welcome in our filthy state. Having said that I did spy this lovely pendant in the window of a shop called Crystals and it was half price so I did step in there to buy it. It reminded me of stormy seas which seemed quite appropriate Himself also got a couple of bottles of local beer in another shop.
Back on the open topped bus we went upstairs again but the rain became torrential so we quickly headed back downstairs. I have no idea why they run open topped buses in that weather, the rain was pouring down the stairs in a river and soon the downstairs was under a few inches of water which sloshed about as the bus went round corners and poured out of the doors when it stopped to let people on and off!
As we were on the chain-link ferry we looked up how far the shop in the centre of Poole were from where the bus would stop. Another epic fail on my part as I hadn’t realised how big Poole is and that where the bus stops at Poole harbour was actually over 3 miles away from the shops! Neither of us could face walking another 3 miles in the torrential wind and rain so Himself suggested we cancel our dinner reservation, head back to the B&B, where we could get showered and into fresh clothes then find somewhere in Bournemouth to eat instead. I was only too happy to agree.
In the end I threw out my poor boots, my socks and leggings, and Himself threw out his jeans (which were thankfully an old tatty pair) because they were frankly beyond getting clean again.
Luckily for us we managed to get a table at a little Italian restaurant just round the corner from the B&B where we filled up on pasta and pizza and much wine. What a day.
The next day I was due to have my annual catch up with my friend Alison. She had suggested meeting at Westbourne for a browse of the shops and some lunch. At last the weather had decided to play ball and was gorgeously sunny and warm. We went down to make some breakfast and whilst there another young couple came in, the first other people we had seen at the place so far! They came in with a Sainsbury’s shopping bag which they unpacked, clearly they had been out to buy extras to supplement the white bread for toast and only 3 kinds of cereal on offer. Thankfully we had pretty much finished because the girl wedged some manner of massive bread roll into the toaster and promptly tripped the electric!
Himself and I took a leisurely stroll to Westbourne and as we had arrived with time in hand looked at some of the shops. Of course I had to spot the most amazing pair of boots!, which of course I didn’t need, so of course I had to try them on, and yes you’ve guessed it, I was instantly smitten. Himself pointed out that you are allowed to treat yourself when you are on holiday because he knew there was no way I was not going to buy them, and I assume wanted to bypass the guilt tripping I would inevitably do afterwards.
Dear reader they have my heart because not only do I love the look of them, but they are so SO damn comfortable (always a big consideration the older you get.)
We met Alison and after a quick catch up Himself went off to do his thing and we had a blissful browse of charity shops and anything else that caught our fancy. Westbourne’s main shopping thoroughfare is absolutely booming. It was lovely to see it so busy with people and full of little independent shops, like the place I got my boots which were all doing a roaring trade.
We had lunch in the most fabulous little café called Delish that I cannot recommend highly enough. Run by two ex-British Airways staff who met while working on a flight to Delhi (hence the name) the food was incredible, as was the free sample of fudge that came with our drinks. I will definitely go back.
We decided we should probably walk our lunch off so moved the car before ambling down Branksome Chine, along the seafront, through the formal gardens and back again. Time flew by and before we knew it, it was time for Alison to go. I caught up with Himself on the beach where one of the two reasons I had found it so hard to find a B&B became clear, the national beach volleyball championships were on!
We headed back to the B&B and because the weather was so lovely got changed for dinner early before walking along the cliff top to Boscombe for a drink at the Harvester there which is on the Beach by the pier.
A couple of years ago the council in Bournemouth trialed using goats to keep the vegetation in check on the cliff face along the seafront and it worked so well they got a load more. I’d forgotten until we passed one part and spotted some.
It’s a wonderful idea which I applaud wholeheartedly apart from one thing. I’m not sure what breed of goat they are, some have the most incredible horns, but dear lord above they absolutely stink to high heaven in the heat! Definitely not so nice when you are out for a stroll and the wind happens to be in your direction. Every so often you would be viciously slapped around the face by the pungent aroma and sure enough there were some goats munching away on the cliff-side. Having said that I guess it is a small price to pay against the good work they do and the lack of wildfires since they have been there.
After our drink we walked back along the beach to the other Harvester at Alum Chine which is also right on the beach. It happened to be a full moon that night too so it really was wonderful to sit and watch the sun go down and the full moon come up over the sea. We had planned to go out for a few drinks at The Anvil but it was fairly late when we left and I couldn’t be arsed to walk right to the other side of town after what had been a day full of walking already. We had wine back at our room anyway so instead we headed back and drank that.
And just like that our trip was over. Checkout was by 11am. So we got up early, had our toast and went for a walk up and down Alum and Branksome chines before heading back and packing. To get there we had to walk through a little park on the cliff top and the second reason I hadn't been able to find many rooms to book became clear, there was a huge Triathlon on!
When we were ready to leave, we just well left. The checkout instructions said you had to leave the keycard in the room, close and lock the door leaving the room key in the key safe on the door. So again we left without seeing a soul.
There was a small Sunday craft market on which we had a look around and bought a couple of bits including this chain of felt elephants.
Before sitting in the park people watching and eating one last ice cream then walking to the station. Due to Oxford Station being closed, the train actually terminated at our stop so no need to even change trains going home. I bought a huge tea and a copy of Dorset Life magazine that came with a free copy of Coast Magazine included, these kept me fully occupied on the journey home.
When we walked into town to get groceries the next morning I spotted these bongos for Himself in a charity shop window, well they did have elephants on them!
Himself shot in to see how much they were, at £13 for the pair it was a done deal. We asked if we could pay for them and collect them later but were told no because if we didn’t come back technically they can’t re-sell them. Instead the lady said she would put them aside for 30 minutes which gave us enough time to do our food shop and buy them on the way back.
The next week went to the cinema to see See How They Run, which was entertaining enough with some laugh out loud moments.
I’m still working from home 3 days a week and happened to look up on one day to see a cat sitting staring at me, a bit of a surprise seeing as we don’t own a cat. I picked him up and popped him out of the front door before heading to the post office with the sales I had made on Ebay after my wardrobe tidy.
I’ve been feeling very autumnal and Halloweeny recently so bought myself these two tops, in fact I took the skeleton shirt with me to Bournemouth.
I spotted these skeleton earrings when I was out with my Mum and just had to buy them. They are articulated and covered in rhinestones.