I love everything about the British Seaside. The smell of the fish & chips, the sound of the seagulls circling above and the candy coloured beach huts. I was raised in Southend-on-Sea (I appreciate not Dorset, Devon or Cornwall!), so any British seaside evokes a lot of happy childhood memories for me, even a Ford Escort Cabriolet.
I have wanted to return to Dorset for some time, so over the Easter break, the whole family, including the whippets set off to explore. We had booked a little place in Bridport as our base for the week, but that's as much as we had planned. My approach to travelling, tends to be, if it looks good from the car, just park up and go and explore. Let's face it, I have found places to live, through this approach, so it really does work.
Setting off from Haslemere, we took the scenic route, taking in the gorgeous countryside along the way. Our first stop, Abbotsbury, was a quaint little village set back from the coast. Abbotsbury is home to a children's farm, a swannery and some gorgeous sub-tropical gardens, quite a lot going on for such a little place. With the sun shining, we took a walk up a rather steep hill, just next to the little corner shop to reach St Catherine's Chapel, and were rewarded with the most beautiful view of the bay.... Two exhausted whippets later, a trip to the local pub for a cheeky cider had to be done, before popping back in to the car. We're on holiday, don't you know.
Not enough time to stop at Burton & Bradstock, but I have heard good things. Making our way to Bridport, we stop at West Bay, also known as Bridport Harbour, part of the Jurassic coast. Bridport has been made that little bit more famous, because of the tv drama Broadchurch, and the beautiful cliffs, which became synonymous with the programme. There, we consumed the first few Oysters (the ice cream version), of the holiday.
Carrying on the journey, we arrived finally at our base for the week, Bridport. Described by some as the 'Nottinghill-on-Sea', it has a cool, gritty, independent feel to the place, with some of the best cafes I have ever been to. We stayed in the town, so lots of places to eat. I can highly recommend, The Soul Shine Cafe for breakfast, lunch at the Red Brick Cafe and dinner at the George, we did indeed do that all in one day. Make sure you check out the antiques area, whilst you are there, plus there is a large flea/antique market every Wednesday and Saturday along South Street. Plus, there are gorgeous independent shops, such as Yellow Gorse. You get the feel, there are some brilliant characters living around this town who have a fair few stories to tell.
Axminster, was a town I knew I had to visit as it has the shop Collate Interiors. A recent addition to the town, the shop is run by Noami and is beautifully curated full of handmade products made by those living and working within the Southwest of England, mostly Devon & Dorset. Axminster, is I am sure, you know, famous for its' tools, I think it's also pretty famous for the River Cottage Cafe & Deli, which happens to be right next door to Collate Interiors.
Probably a key for me going back to Dorset, was the coastal town of Beer, I recall a trip to Babington house pre-kids, where I assured Mr Wattle, we/I would one day live there. I do tend to say that about most places I visit on holiday, so it has to be taken likely by all those around me, but nonetheless, it was as gorgeous this time, as it was back then. We were undoubtedly, incredibly lucky with the weather this time, however I would imagine it is still pretty beautiful in Winter, but obviously you would need your thermals. We didn't drive right in to the main part, but a little way back, where we were able to begin with a gorgeous coastal walk, which took us high up on to the cliffs, so that as you emerged out into the open from the trees, you were greeted with a breathtaking view of Beer. We ate fish & chips at the most delightful beach cafe surrounded by the fishing boats, and wondered the main street in Beer which certainly doesn't take you very long, but worth it all the same. And yes, I would still very much like to live there.
A trip to Golden Cap in good weather, is also well worth a visit. The National Trust's Golden Cap is a hill and cliff situated on the stunning coastline and is England's only natural World Heritage Site. It sits between between Bridport and Charmouth and at 191 metres, it is the highest point on the south coast of Great Britain and is visible for tens of miles along the coastline. You will wish that you were fitter and younger as you do the walk, but you have to do it, either way. I met a gorgeous lady Greyhound called Princess, who had done no less than 200 races in her time and weighed in at an astonishing 46 kg, so it made the walk doubly special as I got a cuddle half-way up the steep hill. Probably best to visit The Anchor Inn at the end of the walk, which is a really lovely pub with great food, plus its the only one there, so even more important you stop for a well earned beer. We spent an age just sitting on the beach afterwards taking in the sea air.
On the way back from one of the many day trips during the holiday, we stopped at the pretty village of Beaminster, another place you may want to consider moving to, as it is as pretty as a postcard, with a very instagrammable florist to boot. I was recommended to visit Brassica and Mercantile, an award-winning restaurant and shop, but with two children and two whippets, just every now and again, you just want to sit on a park bench and eat a shop bought sandwich as it just seems a whole lot easier!! It did, by the way look lovely, as did the shop I ran around, as everyone had lost a little patience at that point in the day.
Ok, next on the list is Lyme Regis. I have realised that not only is this post now quite long, but that the whole holiday is completely out of any order. It's been at least two weeks since I was on this holiday and my ability to remember exactly what we did on what day, is becoming more of a distant memory, so I hope you can forgive me and if you do choose to go to this part of the country, you will be able to look back at this post and visit some of these places, which are all really close to each other.
We visited Lyme Regis early on in the holiday, but it was a rainy, grey day, so on that occasion we didn't make it to the beach front, but saying that, there are still plenty of things to do to entertain kids and adults, especially if you love shopping and eating, as much as I do. If you happen to be with a cool crowd and need to impress, Lyme Regis also has its fair share of gorgeous shops and eateries, such as Lyme Bay Cafe, The Town Mill Bakery, Ryder & Hope and the Hix Restaurant. On the second visit during our holiday, the weather was glorious and we headed down to the beach, to enjoy seeing a whole lot of exposed bodies, as only the British know how to do. More Fish & Chips, and oyster eating, plus a game of crazy golf, what's not to love. Along the main part of the seaside, there is a brilliant antiques centre, with an array of stuff to look at. I spent what seemed like a lifetime, helping my son decide whether he would buy the preserved cockroach or killer spider for his 'scary' shelf back at home.
A lovely thing to do, if you are with smallish children (my little boy is eight), is to have a guided fossil walk. What this gentleman doesn't know about fossils, I would say probably isn't worth knowing, but loads of tips and tricks were shared along the way to help Sam find more things to bring back to his bedroom, which is always a brilliant thing for him, but less of a good thing for me.
Ok, so we are now reaching the end of this gorgeous holiday by the Seaside, and Mr Wattle dangled a final carrot and asked if I would like to visit Frome and Bath on the final day. Since opening the shop, I have been desperate to visit Frome, as I can see from afar how brilliantly the town does the independent thing. Could there be little snippets that I could take away and share with my counterparts in Godalming to bring a little bit of their magic to our town.
A short stop to Bruton allowed us a little walk around this gorgeous small farming town, with shops that looked a little too exclusive for my brood, so we wondered through the town for a little stretch of the legs, before heading on to Frome. Now, if I said before that I wanted to live at any of the places that I have visited this holiday, you need to erase all of that from your mind, as Frome is the only place I now want to live. You (well I did), get this immediate relaxed vibe as you enter the town, an alternative place with an air of creativity. We took a little walk along a stream and bumped into a lovely gentleman with a gorgeous cockapoo called Bluebell. It was fascinating talking with him, (as my whippets were busy trying to unsuccessfully pin Bluebell down), as he was a member of the council (which is Independent btw), when the whole Frome Independent movement began. I learned it had taken years and some pretty forthright figures to make the improvements that they have made, but it is visible around the town. For people that want a creative, relaxed, friendly community to be part of, this is definitely top of the list. I met the best guy in Bath at the end of the day, who confirmed all of this to be true, having moved to Frome from East London 18 years previously.
There are too many places to mention to visit, so I have attached the website here. If you can plan your visit around the Frome Independent Market, which happens the first Sunday of the month through March and December, all the better. If you do visit, make sure you visit The Rye Bakery, which was a favourite of mine.
Bath needs a whole separate blog post, which I will get around to doing. Needless to say, I would quite like to live here too......Thanks for getting this far, if you did indeed.