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.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Every picture tells a story.....

This week I am taking part in Barbara's Paint Monthly where we are sharing favourite paintings or new art exhibitions. I always enjoy looking at paintings and taking time to notice details that tell us a story or gives clues to why it may have been painted.

The Spirit of Bridport via

What do you notice in this painting above? I see a young woman with a crown on her head, sitting on a throne. In her hands she is holding a distaff (a tool using for spinning). Outside the right hand window is a tea clipper heading for the shore. Maybe you recognise those cliffs from my blog? This picture is called the " Spirit of Bridport. "

Weaving the sailcloth via
In the next picture we are in a weaving shed. The ceilings are low, men and women are busy working on three different looms machines weaving sail cloth.
Out workers net braiding via
In the final picture we are in a cottage. The women and young girl are very busy braiding nets. A black cat watches their progress and in the distance you can see the village church and other cottages. In a corner a baby lies fast asleep in a basket.

What do you think of these paintings? My favourite is the bottom one, I love the colours and the way it portrays the work that was carried out by many women in the villages surrounding Bridport.The town has had a rope and net industry for the last 800 years, which is why rope and net is featured in all these pictures. (As this post is about the painting I will leave the story of the rope industry to another time.)

The artist Francis Henry Newbery also known as 'Fra' Newbury believed that art was an activity that the whole community could participate in. These are only a few examples of the paintings/panels he produced for public display in the town hall, which celebrate the history and culture of the area.  He would never have imagined that in future these pictures could be shared (through the internet) all around the world!

Francis Newbery is better known for being the successful headmaster of the Glasgow School of Art from 1885 - 1946. He made the school one of the major art institutes in the world. Under his leadership the school expanded and outgrew it's premises. An architectural competition was arranged to design a new building. Charles Rennie Mackintosh won the competition and created the wonderful building that became one of the best examples of 20th century architecture. It was sadly damaged by fire in 2014 and is now being restored.

Image result for glasgow school of art building newbury macintosh
Glasgow school of Art -via

Image result for glasgow school of art building newbury macintosh
Glasgow School of Art Library via

Although Francis Newbery was born in Devon he grew up in Bridport. He studied at Bridport School of Art and became an art master there, before taking up posts in London, and then Glasgow.  He retired to Dorset and gave these paintings to the town as thanks for his early education and development. The pictures are view to free to view see here for details..

Do you have any famous artists that have captured local scenes? If you would like to join Barbara in writing a post about your favourite artists or just want to see another coastal location - this time in Jersey in the Channel Islands (between England and France) visit her at Coastal Ripples.

I'm so glad you all enjoyed the stormy waters and Rachel Carson book in my last post. It was lovely to receive so many lovely comments.
 Until next time.
Sarah x

Friday, 1 January 2016

Stormy waters and a sense of wonder

Welcome to 2016!

What are your hopes and aspirations for 2016?  As always I strive each year to make my life simpler and enjoy more the simple pleasures of life.  I do move closer to this goal each year, but perfection as always is some way off!

The coast here has been battered by gales and storms and two landslides since Christmas. The conditions have been so bad that the fishermen working out of West Bay have been unable to get out of the harbour and earn a living. Watching the waves crashing ashore you appreciate the power and danger of the sea. Mark in the last post commented about how those living by the sea imagine it always to be ripples lapping on a golden beach rather than it being dark, rough and threatening.

We had a trip out in the car to Lyme Regis, everything looked so grey and was such a contrast to my previous posts here! There was however something special about the light.......

Only 2 surfers were out enjoying the waves.
Our son's yellow coat in the image below was providing the only element of colour! Dogs are only allowed on this stretch of beach on leads. He and Tavi were enjoying a good run, although being a Westie, Tavi will run around and around in circles. I just caught him as he was turning! The greyness here too was such a contrast to the amazing colours shown on  David Attenborough's  new series of the Great Barrier Reef shown on the BBC this week. Did anyone else see the first epsiode?

One of my Christmas presents was the beautiful book by Rachel Carson called The Sense of Wonder which was written in the 1960's. It was a book written to help keep alive children's inborn sense of wonder and renew our own delight in the mysteries of earth, sea and sky.(She is better known for the book "Silent Spring" that altered the world to the dangers of pesticides and taking the earth for granted)

 Although my children are no longer small, I think the blogging world allows us to share this sense of wonder in the prose and pictures we share. The book has inspired me, during this coming year, to  pay more attention to everything around me. She describes in the book of walks with her nephew in the evening by the coast of Maine looking at the rocks, crabs, clouds, stars and wildlife, and sharing the wonder of these things.

 I shall leave you with this quote from Rachel Carson :-

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

                                                       Sarah x


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