Thursday, 4 June 2009

Dorset: a lovely County - England (3)

I took a couple days off from visiting my family in Bristol to travel through rural Somerset to the lovely County of Dorset, (occasionally still called Dorsetshire).

Dorset has the loveliest of English countryside, some charming small towns and villages, as well as a spectacular coast.

I took myself off the main roads and marveled at the rolling hills and gentle valleys. Sadly my camera would not work well so I have little photographic evidence of the my trip.

I was in Dorchester, which is the County seat. This is Thomas Hardy country and his statue graces the main street. Dorchester was also the site of the infamous Bloody Assize under the dreadful Judge Jeffries, and a plaque marks his lodging house.

I also made a quick foray into Sherborn with its prep school for the privileged, and its wonderful Abbey Church.

The gorgeous town of Cerne Abbas is the site for the famous Cerne Abbas giant. This enormous man (with a huge phallus) may well not be ancient, it could well be a “poke in the nose” to Oliver Cromwell. But it is worth seeing!

My plan was to stay in Dorchester but I failed to find an inexpensive Hotel. So I took myself to the seaside town of “Weymouth and Melcome Regis” (known to one and all as Weymouth).
Weymouth was the favoured resort of King George III whose huge statue is to be seen on the sea-front. The town has decent beaches, fabulous (but faded) Georgian buildings, and a nice harbour. The place is in need of a facelift, and I suspect that will happen soon since it will be the site for some 2012 Olympic events.

From Weymouth I took a side trip to the fabled Lulworth Cove, a beauty spot which I’d never before seen. The trip was well worth while despite the very expensive parking.

Back in Weymouth I stayed overnight in a small private Hotel. It was “adequate”. The owner assured me that I would enjoy breakfast the next morning, and so I did. To my delight “Kippers” (Kippered Herrings) were on the menu – a wonderful dish with which to start any day.

The staff at this Hotel was fine and anxious to please. But the guests at breakfast-time reminded me of folks in a “Fawlty Towers” episode – abounding in quirkiness and mild eccentricity. I nibbled on my cereal, toast and kippers, all the while thinking of scripts which could include these aging breakfasters.

Whilst I was at Cerne Abbas I encountered some Dutch tourists. We marveled together at the countryside, then one of the men said this “it’s a good thing that the English climate is unpredictable, otherwise this place would be over-run with tourists”. He had a point. Do include Dorsetshire on your next holiday in England.

For further reading:

http://www.visit-dorchester.co.uk/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Jeffreys,_1st_Baron_Jeffreys
http://www.sherbornetown.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerne_Abbas_giant
http://www.lulworthonline.co.uk/
http://www.weymouth-dorset.co.uk/

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