Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Month of February

Welcome to the first February post, the Anglo Saxons used to call February Sōlmōnath  which translates as "Mud Month". It seems that February hasn't changed that much over the centuries . After another week of more wind and rain, the fields and paths are so muddy that we are starting to avoid them. Instead we head to the beaches instead, on this occasion passing this glorious gorse bush on the way.

 Could this be an example of a leaden sky? At least there was more light in the distance!

Mud, mud glorious mud, you can hear the squelch of paws, it's just as well this dog likes a wash!

This week was my first one on reduced hours. It was wonderful to be on the beach walking the dog and meeting neighbours doing the same thing, rather than driving to work. Then, after climbing the cliff, back home for breakfast and spending the morning making home-made bread and soup for lunch.

February is the best time to see the snowdrops and such a first welcome sign of spring. We went for a walk and snowdrop tea at the nearby village of Compton Valance. Back in the 1950's the farmer decided to plant snowdrops and daffodils along the side of the narrow road leading into the village, His family still live in the village and make sure that this wonderful sight is preserved for many others to enjoy. The tea and cakes on offer at the village hall were lovely too!

After a day of rain and very strong winds we awoke to blue skies, the waves were still crashing on the shore and as you walked along the beach your footprints were washed away by the next incoming wave....

Returning to ancient Britons I had to smile at this story in the press this week, that one of our local Dorset celebrities the Cerne Abbas Giant has been censored.The Houses of Parliament Strangers Bar had covered the offending article with a fig leaf  see here. This story went viral, and thanks to the Houses of Parliament this small local brewery has received lots of free publicity!

Image from Daily Telegraph

 There are 57 chalk hill carvings in Britain. The 180 ft (55 metre) carving of the  Cerne Abbas Giant was first mentioned in the 17th century, there have been some attempts over the centuries to censor him but all have failed.  It is well known locally as a symbol of fertility.

Thank you for all your welcome comments, what are the best and worse parts of February for you?
 Sarah x

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Walking along the beach and discovering stories from the past.

At the same time as I sat at work with the blinds closed to shut out the low sun, my husband and Tavi were walking along the beach enjoying the waves, sunshine and lovely colours! At least he captured this to share with me and you!

In my spare time this week I have been reading about West Bay and the neighbouring village of Burton Bradstock's role during the second World War. On two separate dates in June 1942 over 4,000  troops and 58 tanks were landed on this stretch of coast. The  exercise called Yukon was a rehearsal for the operation to land on the beaches of Dieppe, which had similar huge cliffs and beaches. The first exercise here was such a disaster, due to poor communication and troops landing at the wrong beaches, that it had to be repeated 11 days later - this time more successfully. 

The residents of West Bay were evacuated for a few days, unfortunately not everyone was moved out and there was some alarm to see soldiers passing their windows. It was with great relief that the residents discovered that they were Canadian soldiers! There is a film and images of similar exercises here

The actual raid on Dieppe took place on the 19th August 1942, out of the 6,000 troops that landed 4,000 were either killed, injured, or taken prisoner. It is believed that many lessons were learnt from this dreadful carnage that helped in the planning of  D Day two years later -  for more details see the Canadian raid of Dieppe.

The Germans had identified this area of the coast as a good location to invade England, Even today there are still many bunkers, anti tank defences and guard boxes to be seen along the shore. Later in the war many Americans were stationed in the area, before embarking for France.

By the time the weekend rolled around, the weather had turned. We had some bracing walks, watching the waves crashing on the shore, as we walked away we could taste the salt on our lips. Our son and his girlfriend were down for the weekend. After we had dropped them back to the station, we visited Charmouth beach on the way home.  I was trying to capture the spray on the cliffs and didn't notice the person standing close to the waves. I wonder what they were doing! As always the light creates some great moments.

I was so pleased to see that others want to join in with  "Through the garden gate" each month. It will be fun to share the highlights and problems in our gardens.

Until next time.
Sarah x

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Through the garden gate in January

Once a month I am planning to welcome you through the garden gate and into the garden. For the first in this series to entice you in, I have stolen an image of the gate that opens into what used to be my Granny's garden, you can see why it is my sort of gate!

The monthly post will shows the highlights and also when things haven't gone quite according to plan! This border backs on to the fields and is next to our seating area, under the grapevine. We decided to create a blue, white and yellow border using catmint, daises, white foxgloves and alchemilla mollis.
January 2016

August 2015

It wasn't as colourful as we hoped so we will be adding more yellow and silver plants to it this year to make it more eye catching. Our plan was to enjoy the afternoon winter sun shining through the grasses as the sun set, it worked last winter but now look at the grass! 

Something has shredded it. They have discovered grasses are a wonderful thing to attack - can you guess who?

Yes it was Twinkle!  Unfortunately, she hasn't been very well for sometime. She occasionally has problems with breathing (it's a bit like asthma) and we have to control it by injections. Somedays she is better than others, so it is good to see her having fun playing outside even if it ruins our garden plans!

The flowers highlights this month are the purple coloured periwinkle and the hellebores. We even have some annual wallflowers coming into flower. It was a joy to pick the first bunch of  flowers from the garden and enjoy them indoors.

In the vegetable garden we have leeks, spinach and kale growing, none of which are very large.
They have been battered so much by the winter storms. We have been picking salad leaves from the greenhouse all winter and we also have kale and strawberries growing in here.

Our herbaceous border has been battered by the winds too, and with so much rain there hasn't been the opportunity to get outside and sort it out. The front of the euphorbia wulfenii has been blown over. Although it is now too big for here, we will wait until it has flowered before taking it out.  At least we haven't had plants completely blown out of the ground like some of our neighbours! Do you have any highlights of failures in your garden in January?

Heavy rain early on Friday morning caused the local  rivers to burst their banks flooding the surrounding areas, it was fortunate that the sun came out at lunch time and with the sluice gates fully open into the harbour the excess water was soon dispersed.

Twinkle had the right idea finding a high position to fall asleep!

Thank you for all the encouraging words you left me last week about finishing work, it helps to confirm that I am making the right decision!

If anyone else wants to join in "Through the garden gate" each month and show us your garden,  please leave a comment below. 
Sarah x

Sunday, 17 January 2016

It's cold outside

 On Saturday we awoke to bright skies and a hard frost. It was just the opportunity we needed to go out straight after breakfast on a long walk over the frozen footpaths. They have been almost impassable over the last month, with all the rain we have been having.

Is this a good place to hide?

A pond has been created by the lime kiln

Looking back towards the hills

Playing ball on the beach

Strong wind on the waves

It has been a busy week with many things happening (more of that later.) It was also the week when I made the big decision to change my life completely. I have resigned after working nearly 34 years for the same organisation. It have been considering doing this for a while and although money will now be tight, it feels the right thing to do. It has been a difficult decision to make as it has been such a large part of my life. I have enjoyed the work, but I need to do something completely different. I have also seen many others of you take this step over the past few years and I have watched your progress with interest. I am reducing my hours slightly and won't be finishing work until late spring/early summer. I will not be idle as I am involved in a number of  local community projects and hopefully will also have more time to do the things I enjoy. Enjoying this scene more often is no comparison to sitting in an office is it?

I also managed to see the International space station in the sky above us this week. Carolyn from New Zealand mentioned in a recent post here that she had seen it. It looked just like a fast moving star. I was amazed how quickly it moved - by the time I had seen it in the back garden and rushed into the house it had gone over the house and was disappearing into the distance! Have you seen it too ? For more information see ISS Tracker

This week we have also enjoyed a concert combining African rhythms,Celtic bagpipe, fiddle and contemporary sounds. It was a strange mix, but the music was amazing and it shows that bringing the music of many cultures together can work see here.

A completely different kind of music was performed in a damp and cold afternoon in the Bridport Community Orchard this afternoon, as we joined in the ancient event of Wassailing.  This is an ancient tradition in the South West of Britain held in orchards to ensure a good apple harvest in the forthcoming year and ward off evil spirits. 


It was an enjoyable event warmed by a log fire, drinking cider or hot apple juice with all ages enjoying great story telling. If I hadn't had the warm apple juice I think I would have been joining in with the Morris Men to keep warm, maybe it's just as well I wasn't drinking the cider!

Wishing you a happy week.


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