Posts Tagged ‘dorset’


Admiralty Park, Holton Heath…

There’s a great novel called Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill, “a daring saga of culture, history, and heredity”. A little girl falls down a mineshaft and we learn of all her wonderful ancestors who were born thanks to minor miracles that brought their parents together or saved them from early death. By quirks of fate does our personal DNA come together.

Obviously I would not be here today if my parents had not met. So in a way I owe my existence to World War II and specifically to the manufacture of explosives by the Royal Navy…

My father was from South Wales, my mother from South Dorset. What could possibly (more…)

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Swanning about in Swanage…


Street lamps in Swanage – not sure if the design is dolphins or fishes – and the paintwork is much damaged by the salty air…

One of our favourite trips is on the Swanage Railway from the Norden park-and-ride to Swanage and back. You can also break your journey at Corfe Castle, which is only two minutes from the Norden end.

You can see our 2010 trip to Corfe here, but this time (more…)

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Pots of Pennisetum villosum or feathertop grass for sale at Knoll Gardens in Dorset…

While spending a few days in Dorset recently we discovered Knoll Gardens, at Hampreston, between Wimborne Minster and Ferndown, run by plantsman Neil Lucas. See the website here.

I found the place when (more…)

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Weymouth: Over the bridge


Punch & Judy theatre on the beach in Weymouth, August 2013…

It is over a year now since we first visited Weymouth in Dorset – at the time of the Olympic Games, when the sailing events were staged there. I blogged about it at the time.

We decided to go back there this year to see what it would be like on a normal summer’s day, knowing this time it would be (more…)

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Feral pigeon (Columba livia) on the shore in Poole – with wing colour not too different from the original wild rock dove type…

I have just come back from a few days in Dorset (mostly Poole) and will no doubt share my snapshots with you over the next few weeks – or months!

But as a bit of a bridge between the last post about feral pigeons and my holiday excursions, here are some (more…)

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Upton House in Poole, Dorset – now the setting for a small country park

My childhood holidays in the late 1950s and 1960s were spent in Upton, a suburb on the northern edge of Poole in Dorset. My mother was born in Poole and Upton was where her mother and sister still lived in those days.

But Upton House was unknown to me until a few years ago, as it was in private hands. In fact my cousin now tells me that when she was little the local lady of the Upton manor would go around distributing largesse to poor families like ours!

In this blog post I intended just to show the pictures I took of the lovely flowers in the walled garden and some of the wildfowl you can see from the shore at the bottom of the garden, but (more…)

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You get up close and personal with buildings on an open-top bus…

On a day trip to Bournemouth a few weeks ago, we decided to take a tour on the red Citysightseeing open-top bus. We usually do this when visiting a new place, to get ourselves orientated, but on this occasion we had already been to Bournemouth several times in the past.

The tour gave us a new perspective and I was able to snap what I think are some great (more…)

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The grand Italian garden at Compton Acres, Poole, Dorset

OK, I know, they aren’t really a secret, but the gardens at Compton Acres, at Canford Cliffs between Poole and Bournemouth, were new to me, even though I have visited Dorset so often in the past.

The 10 acres, in a little valley, feature many (more…)

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Signs of London 2012 in Weymouth…

The London 2012 Olympics almost passed me by – I was busy at work for the beginning and away on holiday at the end. I enjoyed the clever opening ceremony on TV, and saw the wonderful gold medal performances by Nicola Adams in the boxing and Jade Jones in the taekwondo on TV in our hotel. And I stayed up late to watch Tom Daly’s bronze in the high diving. But that was it, really.

Except that I CAN claim to have been in Weymouth during the Olympic sailing events. Long before we found out that the sailing was going to take place there, we had (more…)

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A drawing of Mary Anning's ichthyosaur, used to illustrate a paper by Everard Home in 1814


My 1969 Hamlyn guide to Prehistoric Animals

OK, I know that’s a ridiculous headline, as an ichthyosaur was a fish-like reptile with no legs, but I wanted to draw the comparison with the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs and its latest Planet Dinosaur

There are so many “new” prehistoric creatures these days and I can no longer keep up with all the names. My reference guide as a child in 1969 was Prehistoric Animals by Barry Cox and I could probably still identify 80% of the species illustrated, if I spotted them in the wild. That’s a Stegosaurus and an Ankylosaurus on the cover…

In Mary Anning’s time (21 May 1799 – 9 March 1847) things were even simpler – and it must have been so exciting, naming the first fossils found.

As of last month, I have now seen Mary Anning’s ichthyosaur fossil in the flesh (if you know what I mean) – but I am so kicking myself because I didn’t take a picture!

I hadn’t realised at the time that the ichthyosaur isn’t usually at Mary’s home-town museum in Lyme Regis, Dorset, but has been brought back from the Natural History Museum in London for a couple of months to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her find – on Mary Anning Day, September 24.


A portrait of Mary Anning with her dog Tray. A landslide from the blue lias cliffs killed Tray in 1833 - and almost killed Mary, too...

Mary Anning was (more…)

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