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.

Nature knows when it is Summer

IMGP3459We have folklore, meteorological calendars and goodness knows what else to tell when the official start of Summer is. Fortunately Mother Nature does not read these things and tells us in her own way when Summer has arrived.

Last week was one such time. Hedgerows already green with growing grass suddenly showed signs of seasonal activity when the tiny white buds of the Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) started to appear. Within days this plant unfolds a myriad of tiny and delicate, but perfectly formed petals. It also puts on a spurt of accelerated growth as stems suddenly grow inches thrusting its blossom skywards to attract pollenating bees. Cow Parsley suddenly appears in such profusion it looks like the hedgerows have been given a dusting of snow.

IMGP3461Leaves on trees that up until now have been gently swelling green buds all seem to burst open on the same day covering the countryside in a swathe of blinding green brilliance that radiates its colour. The lofty boughs of the trees so prominent in winter, are suddenly shrouded from view once more until the autumn.

Grass lawns put on a additional spurt of growth too as ants attempt to build their secretive nests hidden by the lofty green blades.

The whole feel of the arrival of Summer is to create an urge to get out and about even more, particularly into the countryside. Already we are planning simple outdoor trips like picnics in remote grassy fields where one can while away the time not doing nothing, but feeling one with nature.

Yes let’s all give out a almighty cheer for Yes Summer at long last is finally here.

IMGP3463

April 2011


April heralded the arrival of a much welcome Spring, however it also feels like Summer prematurely is here as well with temperatures reaching the 70’s F (22 C) The old saying goes, cast not a clout until May is out, which is generally interpreted to mean do not wear less clothing until the beginning of June. This old adage appears to have little meaning this year. There is also some debate as to whether this refers to the month of May or the flower of the Hawthorne which is also known as May. If it is the latter, then the flower has already been and gone. One thing is for certain, the unseasonable heat wave as brought everything into bloom at once. Leaves on all trees came out overnight leaving the countryside a dazzling lush bright green.

Yesterday we took one of our occasional trips to Dorchester in Dorset which has an ancient weekly market that we quite like. There is something quite soothing about mooching around the stalls or the flea market section. This was followed by a short journey south to Weymouth where we purchased some fresh crabs and oysters from a quayside fish shop. The new road to Weymouth is now open but alas the old road which contained a steep but scenic hairpin bend has now been torn up. The long beach at Weymouth was heavily packed with early holiday makers all enjoying themselves but as usual, parking remains extremely difficult. We are normally lucky in finding a free short parking spot on the quayside.

At the moment the town of Weymouth appears to be a sea of road works as preparations for the sailing events of the 2012 Olympics are well underway. I could still see no evidence of additional parking and I cannot help but wonder if the thousands of extra visitors coinciding with the additional Summer holiday makers are going to create one huge parking problem. I hope not but I have my doubts. It will certainly be too late to do anything about it once the Olympics have started.

%d bloggers like this: