A long weekend in Dorset, England

The Purbeck railway line transports the nostalgic voyager along the 12mile track through English countryside and past the magnificent Corfe Castle sitting high on its hill above its quaint village to the seaside town of Swanage. There, we took a tall ship out along the coast to witness, from the sea, Harry Rock and the white chalk cliffs that are so typical of the south coast. Returning, on the train, to the car park, the other half was thrilled to find a car park full of vintage racing Bugatti cars. An excellent first day.

Purbeck railway train guards smartly dressed in their traditional uniforms
Steam Train
Tall ship in Swanage Harbour
Sailing the high seas.

White Chalk Cliffs
Swanage from the sea.
Memorial plates on Swanage pier.
A whole car park full of Bugatti racing cars.

We stayed in a little farmhouse just up the road from Lulworth Cove from which, cliff top footpaths offered beautiful coastal panoramas to include the famous arched peninsula of Durdle Door.

Durdle Door
Lulworth Cove
Sea Thrift
East side of the Durdle Door peninsula

Of all the drama of this stretch of coast, one of the most bizarre things we saw in that small area was the grey stone beach, and therefore foreboding grey waters, but yet the multi-coloured seaweeds of Kimmeridge Bay.

Grey stones made this bay feel very hostile.

Yet, the multicoloured seaweeds were mesmerizing.
Known as the Jurassic Coast, people love to collect fossils from this stretch of coastland.

Tyneham village, commandeered by the military as a strategic location during the war is still in the hands of the military and therefore the village and Worbarrow Bay are only accessible on certain designated days. We were lucky to see them.

A whole village commandeered for military purposes during WWII
Has become a tourist attraction


Tyneham village remains
Nice to see natural history was much more important in those days.
Worbarrow Bay
Incredible translucent colour which must be the chalk sea floor reflecting light.

We spend a pleasing day on the National Trust Brownsea Island. Pleasing firstly because it required 2 ferry rides to get there and secondly because there were no vehicles and few people about but mostly, because we saw a rare red squirrel. Red squirrels are indigenous however, they were virtually wiped out when the larger, more aggressive grey squirrel got introduced from Nth America in C19.

The coastguard cottages at the entrance to the island
Whole flocks of peacocks roaming free.
My first red squirrel – and I should never have seen it if it hadn’t thrown an acorn at my head – haha.

The bridge at Wareham was very pretty

Swan in bridge shadows
Duck leaving bridge shadows
Kayaks for hire.

And, after a thorough lovely few days, for the grand finale, which happens to be my favourite place ever, and happened to fall on my birthday… we visited Monkey World. We had been once before when the boys were young and I do try to catch the daily dramas on the TV series but there is nothing like spending time watching these apes and monkeys that have had such difficult lives – many rescued from the pet trade and some from the tourist trade. This place does a great job in giving them back some dignity and allowing as natural a life as they would ever be able to enjoy. They have an excellent breeding program with some of the rarest of species whose young can end up getting transported back to the wild. I think it’s a great cause.

Gordon, born at the centre, has grown into a fine young man.
Golden Cheek Gibbons mate for life. I love to hear their morning song.
Many come to this sanctuary with psychological scars that will stay with them forever.


Strategies to make feeding more stimulating
One of the orang-utans from the nursery
She has mothered 3 young and contributed to the breeding program for this species.
Oshine was rescued from being a household pet where she was feed a diet of burgers and sweets. She has done much better than me on her healthy eating regime.

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