Friday, 29 November 2013

Sunshine award

Firstly I want to thank the lovely Jay from My family and other cricketers for recently nominating me for a Sunshine award. As my blog is award free I am not going to participate with it fully and will just answer the questions that Jay asked. Her blog always makes me smile as like many of us she has a busy life trying to keep many balls spinning in the air at once.

The beach in Weymouth - last weekend when it wasn't sunny!

The German town of Bielefeld
1) Where do you call home? Is it where you live now, where you once lived or a place you would like to call home in the future?  Where I live now, down by the sea in Weymouth is where I call home. Dorset is where I have lived for the past 31 years. I do however have a second place I call home. I spent most of my childhood in Germany and a part of me will still call Germany home too.

2) What did you want to be "when you grew up" or are you not grown up yet?
I did look into the possibility of becoming a food technologist or a dietitian but instead I was a ground air hostess for a short while. Most of my working life has been working in the NHS - but not on the front line.

3) Do you have a secret talent or a party piece? Not one that comes readily to mind!

My dream location

4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Hopefully retired and living by the sea!

5) Do you have a "claim to fame"?
I did write to the Queen at the age of 12 to complain about rats I had seen in a street on London. I did get a reply from her personal secretary!

6) Any regrets, however small?
I wish I had asked my grandparents more about their lives and family.

My son's band - he's the one singing
      7) Is there a band or singer you wish you'd had the chance to see live? Or may see in the future? Or is live music not for you? My son was in a band for a couple of years. Although they used to practice at our house we were never allowed to see him at a live gig in one of the local pubs. He was at the stage when it was too embarrassing to be seen with the parents. After a few years he decided that instead he would redirect his love of music to setting up his own successful record company with a friend, that they run in their spare time!

8) School, loved it or hated it? Or should have paid more attention at the time?!  I loved school and keep meaning to do a post about it!

Our garden in May
9) Favourite season? And tell me what that season is like if you're not in the UK. My favourite season has to be summer. I love the light evenings the warmth (hopefully) and the garden full of beautiful flowers, and the first pickings of newly grown vegetables and salad.

10) Did you really have the time to answer all those questions, do you have time on your hands or are you up to your neck?
I don't have much time on my hands, but I liked the questions.
Thank you Jay for thinking I was worthy of this award, and also thank you for everyone who reads, comments and share my blog you all always brighten my day!
 Sarah x

Monday, 25 November 2013

Contrast in seasons

In view of the cold weather we are currently experiencing  I thought that it would be nice to remember the warmth of the summer sunshine, with a visit to Swanage.

The view from the Victorian pier over looking the bay.

 Our favourite beach cafe.

This is the Wellington Clock Tower, it was originally built as a memorial for the Duke of Wellington and was located on the approach to London Bridge in London. The clock never kept good time and as the traffic increased the tower was in the way . It was dismantled and the rubble was given to a Dorset builder to use as ballast to fill the empty ships returning to the Dorset stone mines. It was rebuilt in the more peaceful surroundings of Swanage without the clock!

Our daughter looking for fish in the clear water.

We revisited Swanage a few weekends ago. These pictures are such a contrast to those summer days! I still  however find beauty and interest in each season down by the sea.

Our son on a rare visit home  - boys will be boys!

There were even some swimmers enjoying  the bracing sea - Brr. I think I should have stuck with the summer images, I'm feeling cold again now!

We have had a busy weekend trying to get ahead  getting things organised  for Christmas and I also made our Christmas pudding using my mother in laws recipe. Have you started thinking about Christmas yet?
Sarah x

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Under the Greenwood tree

Returning home from a trip, I took a detour and drove under this avenue of beech trees that line the two miles of road between Wimborne and Blandford. The trees were planted in 1835 as an anniversary present for Lady Bankes, a fantastic gift that has bought pleasure to so many others too.

The leaves seem to be taking ages to fall  here this year, and so we decided to visit our favourite wood on Saturday morning. We have been visiting Thorncombe woods for the last 31 years since we first starting going out together.

The sun was beginning to melt the first frost we have seen this year. This stinging nettle looked so beautiful with it's frosty coat. Amazingly fellow blogger CT was taking a similar picture, over the border in Hampshire almost around the same time!

The author Thomas Hardy was born in this cottage  and he wrote two of his books while living here including " Under the Greenwood tree". My first introduction to Dorset was reading "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" at school, never realising that I would be spending most of my adult years in the countryside he described.
The cottage is now owned by the National Trust. I have been remiss in not bringing you here before. It is now closed for the winter but if you want a peep inside we have excellent guides from Elizabeth and CT.

Many years ago someone added some goldfish to this pond. They ate all the newts and other pond life but it has now been restored. As we stopped to take photos and admire the view we heard quite a thundering in the undergrowth. Five ponies joined us by the pond to have a drink. They weren't bothered  by our presence. We have never seen them roaming here before and it was a magical moment watching them and sharing this beautiful location with them.

 It's the beech trees that draw us here at this time of year. They are always such a magnificent sight.

The woods were also a popular outing when the children were small. Their playgroup used to have an annual outing here.  On one of our visits someone had left bird seed on the trunks of old trees, it was lovely to see the birdlife at a closer range than usual.

They say this wood is haunted by a Roman ghost. This site was once the location of the Roman road that linked Dorchester to the ancient settlement of Bradbury rings (located very close to the avenue of trees in my first picture.)

There have been some superb sunrises and sunsets in the past week. As I walked towards the sea, to take these images I disturbed some rabbits that were silhouetted on the crest of the hill. They were too fast to capture, but for me that moment was priceless.

Sarah x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Sun,sea and chocolate

After an eventful week - I lost our camera and we had a leak on the kitchen ceiling -  it was good last Sunday morning to wake to brilliant sunshine and take a trip along the coast to West Bay.  

As we walked around the harbour the tide was well in and the local gig team were getting ready to go out on the water. Over the past ten years or so gig racing has spread from it's native home of Cornwall along the South West coast to Dorset. The gigs are large wooden rowing boats manned by 6 rowers. They were initially used for ferrying pilots and goods out to larger ships, also for life saving and smuggling. 

The view of the coastline from the harbour wall was spectacular. The cliffs always remind me of gingerbread. You may be able to pick out a few people walking along the top.

 I never tire of listening to the rythmic sound of the waves crashing on the beach and the pebbles murmuring as they are pulled back to sea.(click here for a similar sound effect.)

We always have a dilemma when we visit West Bay as we have two favourite cafes we visit that both welcome dogs. Ellipse won on this occasion although they serve fantastic coffees they also have a chocolate machine that produces the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted.

Despite the disasters of the week (the leak has been fixed) -  the camera has not been handed in to the police these pictures are taken with our old camera that consumes batteries at an alarming rate.) I was so excited to receive this fantastic book, which was a recent give-away from Annie at Knitsofacto wasn't I lucky!  Annie also sent me some chocolate too - a  Divine bar of milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt (it didn't last long ) and Beyond Dark Moments of pleasure chocolate buttons. Thank you so much Annie, if you haven't met her do pop over and visit her, she has many talents and blogging is one of them.

The book has an amazing collection of fantastic recipes all using chocolate. The pictures themselves are a feast to the eyes. What can a chocoholic do but try them!

I thought I would be good and try something that looked quite healthy, Chocolate and cherry polenta cake (see above right). It was nice but next time it will contain more calories -  now will it be chocolate butterscotch bars, chocolate doughnuts,white chocolate cappuccino gateau, black forest gateau -what a dilemma!

As my title linked in the sea and chocolate maybe this will make you smile :-

This guy found a bottle on the ocean, and he opened it and out popped a genie, and he gave him three wishes. The guy wished for a million dollars, and poof! there was a million dollars. Then he wished for a convertible, and poof! there was a convertible. And then, he wished he could be irresistible to all women... poof! he turned into a box of chocolates. 

Do you share my passion for chocolate?

Thank you for so many comments and your stories of how the countryside has changed where you live too. Welcome and hello to my new followers Cathy who has a few blogs and owns a Westie, Tori at Noisy Day Dreams and Janine from Secret from the sea.

Hope you are have a good weekend.
Sarah x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The changing face of the countryside

Have you ever considered what huge changes have taken place in the countryside, even over the last 50 years? These pictures were taken at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex during our holiday in September  The museum tells us about the lives of the men, women and children who lived in these traditional buildings in years gone by.

I have recently been reading the book An Island in Time-  the Biography of a village by Geert Mak, which tells the story of the decline in village life of Jorwert  in North Holland - but this could also be the same story retold in many villages throughout Europe. Over the past 50 years the villages have changed as farms have grown larger, schools and shops and pubs have shut and many of the villagers now work away from the village. In the South West many villages now have many holiday homes that are empty for much of the year.  The village were I lived in the early 80's has empty barns where previously cows were milked. The book highlighted how technology has caused an even greater loss of connection between the land and the people.

 Looking back through the generations where did you ancestors live? Most of mine lived in the countryside or close to the sea. They would have been quite self sufficient living in their communities, you certainly couldn't say that is the same for most of us today!

The Weald and Downland Museum was a wonderful day out, it is in beautiful surroundings and it was interesting to look in the buildings and see how people had once lived.  In Germany (where I grew up) the farmhouses are large with the animals living in the main part of the building with the families living in separate quarters alongside. I didn't see any of examples of this here.

The company that supplied the wildflower meadow seen at the Olympic opening ceremony had surplus turf and some of it was donated to the museum. Sadly the meadow had been cut when we visited!

The BBC have been using this location for their forthcoming series of a "Tudor Monastery Farm." They were filming on the day we visited - you can see a spotlight inside the building and the white board outside was reflecting more light into the building. We also saw one of the presenters dressed in his Tudor outfit. We have enjoyed the previous series of the Victorian, Edwardian and Wartime farms and we will be watching this on Wednesday evening too.

As Willie mentioned in the comments below the Tudor Monastery Farm starts tonight on BBC 2 at 9pm. You can watch previous series on you tube see links below.

Have you noticed changes in the countryside in your neighbourhood?

Sarah x

Sunday, 10 November 2013


At this time of year with 11th November approaching thoughts always turn to those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars.

On a beautiful summers day in August we visited a typical English summer village fete, held in the grounds of lovely manor house. This scene who have been quite familiar to those living 80 years ago. With a band playing vintage tunes, beautiful gardens to walk around, a coconut shy, tombola, cream teas and homemade cakes.

On the main lawn was a marquee that showed displays and information about  RAF Warmwell, which was a Second World War airfield, located close by and now derelict.

In the church next door are the war graves of those that died from that airfield.  Those that died were all in their 20's and included British, Canadian, Polish and South African personnel. This is the first time I have come across Commonwealth War Graves in a village churchyard.

My parents and all my aunts and uncles were all in the services during the 1939-1945 and were lucky to come through it all OK, but this summer scene reminded me so vividly that others had not been so lucky. They may not have been able to start families that could enjoy this summer scene.

This post is dedicated to all those that died or suffered as a consequence of that dreadful time in our history. 
Their yesterdays bought us our tomorrow. (*)

Sarah x

(*) Quote was taken from Andy Cooke who has written about the history of the airfield see here.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The edge of the sea

Discovering a break between heavy showers we manged to have a short walk along the beach.

 The recent storms have brought lots of sea weed on the shore. In previous years we have collected it and used it as a winter mulch on the vegetable patch.

I spotted this sandcastle all alone and sat down on the beach to take this picture. I then turned around to look at the view behind me and suddenly noticed the waves coming towards me and had to move fast! The sandcastle was completely washed away. It didn't seem that I was that close to the tide line!

Daisy was much more sensible and had stayed further up the beach. I shall have to follow her lead next time!

Sarah x

Sunday, 3 November 2013


 Our plan this morning was to go to the beach instead we came here ......

This is Stourhead in Wiltshire - we have been wanting to visit here the last two Autumns and have never made it. The weather forecast wasn't good for this weekend either, and we had resigned ourselves to missing out for another year. As we took the road out of Weymouth we suddenly noticed some spectacular Autumn trees and changed our minds and our destination!

Although we encountered heavy rain as we drove along the weather had cleared by the time we reached Stourhead. I have never been here before and my husband last visited here around 45 years ago as a child.

Stourhead is a National Trust property which has one of the best 18th century landscape gardens. It was inspired by the great landscape painters of the 17th century. The gardens contains temples, grottos and beautiful trees with the lake as the centre piece. When it was opened in the 1740's a magazine described it as a "living work of art" and this is still the case today.

It was probably at it's best a few weeks ago, but we had a chance to marvel at those trees that still were dressed in their autumn glory.

As it was the last day of the half term holidays and also as this is such a popular place to visit at this time of year there were many other visitors. There were grandparents enjoying the walk with their children and grandchildren - and talking about their previous visits as they wandered around. Small children were gathering an assortment of colourful leaves to take home.

I loved looking at the little cottage with the smoke coming out of the chimney. It reminded me of one of the cottages in the woods, which appears in so many fairytales. Trees that have died have been turned into works of art. Can you see the owl that has been created in the tree at the bottom of the collage?

I'll finish with the view that Stourhead is so famous for. It was a lovely way to welcome in November and I'm sure it won't be 45 years before we return again!

Thank you to everyone for your concern over the storms here last weekend. It wasn't as bad as they predicted and although many trees were blown down, other damage was minimal. It looked as if Holland and Belgium had stronger winds than us. I hope everyone stayed safe. I enjoyed reading about all your recycled treasures too, thank you for sharing them with us.

Hello and welcome to my new followers David Turner from Wold Ranger, Lynette, Patrica, and Bovey Belle from Codlingsandcream. If you have links please let me know.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy week.
Sarah x


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