Those Lazy Hazy Crazy days of Summer

IMGP3687English weather is always unpredictable and as the saying goes, “Two days of sunshine followed by a thunderstorm”. Well, so far this Summer, that adage is proving to. be reasonably accurate.

In the UK, August has traditionally been the main holiday period as it is the month when the best outdoor weather tends to come in more prolonged sunny periods. Whether people travel abroad or holiday remain in the UK on a Staycation as it has come to be known, August is the month which families look forward too a well earned break. Schools also have their extended holidays during this time and the start of the month frequently sees weekend traffic jams as the nation moves en-masse  to their chosen holiday destinations.

Now that I am retired, my wife and I are fortunately no longer restricted to the more popular holiday periods, but that does not stop us making good use of fine weather to take trips out on a visit or a picnic. The South-West of England where we live has always been a popular destination for holiday makers, particularly with its many fine seaside resorts, beaches and spectacular scenery. It is still possible however to find less crowded and peaceful locations and out trip this week to Stonebarrow Hill on the Dorset Coast is one of them.

IMGP3711Stonebarrow Hill is a 148 metre high plateau sandwiched between the small coastal town of Charmouth and the well known Golden Cap which is the highest hill in the spectacular Lyme Bay. The land is owned by the National Trust and forms part of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast and the Coastal Path. Parking and access are free but if not travelling on foot, it does require motoring up a very steep and narrow lane that twists and turns and which is one vehicle width only. This means some give and take negotiation is necessary in the event of encountering on coming traffic.

The plateau is traversed along a unmade road but with ample parking for cars, and the sides slope down steeply to the sea far below.. The views are breath-taking and it is possible to see the entire sweep of Lyme Bay on a clear day.

The video below is a 360° panorama of just one part of Stonebarrow Hill.

April 2012


Update 06/04/2012

Queens Arms, Wraxall, Somerset

My wife and I are part of a group of friends in my village which has become known as the “Birthday Group” so called as each month we go out to lunch to celebrate an individuals birthday. Fortunate as we are in Somerset to have a large number of village pubs which serve excellent cuisine are modest prices, like most people we do tend to have our favourites. Our last outing however we went to a pub most of us had never visited before except for one member of our group whose birthday were were celebrating and for who our venue had more than special memories.

The pub was the Queens Arms at Wraxall in Somerset with extensive views over the local countryside. It is located on the only crossroads at Wraxall with the The Fosse Way, an important major Roman Road of it’s time, and part of the A37 road network. I think we were all very impressed at the extensive menu, well prepared and delicious meals, coupled with good service that we received at the Queens Arms, that it will certainly go on our favourites list. I would personally recommend a visit there to anyone who has the opportunity.

Our companion took great delight in explaining he was born in a house located adjacent to the pub which has been subsequently demolished and replaced by a newer building. He was the son of a dairy farmer, a career he also pursued in later life and where as a boy, he helped his father make their own farmhouse cheese for public sale. Our friend recalled how each weekday he would walk along one country lane from the crossroads to go to school at the village of East Pennard. He also suspects that particular walk with modern traffic would be rather dangerous today as most country lanes are unpaved. East Pennard is close to the now internationally renown Worthy Farm where the Glastonbury Music Festival takes place.

Our friend reminisced how as a lad during the war years, he would stand fascinated on the roadside watching convoys of military vehicles going about their business. During the run-up to D-Day, of which they were unaware at the time, he would see seemingly endless columns of military vehicles and troops making their way along the Fosse Way towards the south coast in preparation for the invasion. It was also during the war years due to manpower shortages his grandmother was also the landlord of the Queens Arms.

It is strange how that same European conflict set a chain of events that led to him meeting his wife who is also a good friend of ours. She was born in pre-war Germany, the daughter of a Jewish doctor. Clearly her father was a very erudite man with a good sense of political nous who could foresee likely future events unfolding in that country. Wisely he was able to get his family out of the country to England before the tragic events that befell most of his fellow German Jewish countrymen. Although for given circumstances he could not immediately join his family, he was able to follow later before the full force of the Holocaust was unleashed.

Our friend would certainly not describe herself as a writer but she is more than conscious that her personal memories do form an important period in history. Consequently she has been busy consigning all her memories to paper so that someone in the future can make good use of them. Her memories should prove interesting reading.


Burton Bradstock, Dorset

April arrived not to the normal slow but gentle warming of a departing March but on the tail end of a mini-heat wave. Unseasonal as this advanced and unexpected outburst of Summer may have been, it was never-the-less welcome following a dreary winter. In some ways, I feel pulled between two directions at once. On one hand is the longing for the future Summer sun, tempered by the need for good rainfall on the other hand as warnings of future drought conditions become increasingly stronger. I placate myself with the thought there is nothing I can do about the weather anyway, I might as well enjoy or endure whatever the weather may bring.  Que Sera Sera as the Italian’s would say, whatever will be, will be.

Burton Bradstock, Dorset

We did however take a trip to Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. From our home it is only a 45 minute trip and the coastline and countryside are so beautiful in this part of the country. Burton Bradstock is an un-commercialised village nestling between surrounding hills. The short road from the village to the beach terminates in National Trust property and from there the coastal path stretches in both directions to Portland Bill to the east and through Golden Cap to Lyme Regis and Exmouth in the west. This large distinctive semi-circular stretch of the English coast is known as Lyme Bay. The shoreline and cliffs of the Jurassic Coast continue to yield a seemingly endless supply of new fossil discoveries. I cannot help but wonder how much the Earth has changed since these long extinct creatures left their imprint in the sands so many million of years ago, that the sand has since become a rock face.

The Easter holidays are now only a few days away and like migrating flocks of birds, it will be the signal for the annual tourist season to begin as once more droves of traffic  makes the trek westwards for people seek the respite of the much loved West Country. I think it has been estimated that during the peak season, the population of the West Country more than doubles due to visitors.

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