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.

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

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White Chalk Cliffs
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Swanage from the sea.
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Memorial plates on Swanage pier.
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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.

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Durdle Door
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Lulworth Cove
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Sea Thrift
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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.

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Grey stones made this bay feel very hostile.

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Yet, the multicoloured seaweeds were mesmerizing.
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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.

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

 

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Tyneham village remains
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Nice to see natural history was much more important in those days.
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Worbarrow Bay
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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.

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The coastguard cottages at the entrance to the island
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Whole flocks of peacocks roaming free.
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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

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Swan in bridge shadows
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Duck leaving bridge shadows
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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.

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

 

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Strategies to make feeding more stimulating
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One of the orang-utans from the nursery
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She has mothered 3 young and contributed to the breeding program for this species.
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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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Douggie Dog

I REALLY thought I’d published this post a couple of weeks ago. Oh well, it just means there are more photos to put up.

Yes, losing Poppy knocked us backward quite badly. Despite her age, she was still so fit and active that when the complication came along, neither of us was prepared. I know everyone’s pet is super special but, really, she was.

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Knowing we had a house move coming up was a very convenient excuse to not to have to think about what we were going to do with neither kids or dogs in the house. It was very calm and strange. Going for a walk was a bit of a hollow experience. After a few months, it was time to talk about ‘the void’ and what we should do about it. We decided, being quite experienced dog owners, there was no reason why we shouldn’t take a rescue dog this time. I’m so glad we did. His name is Doug and he is 10 months old. When we first bought him home, he was very manic; lots of lunging and BIG barks. So, for the first couple of weeks we walked him, everyday, along the river where he could run back and forward but not left or right because of waterways on each side. Like a typical puppy, he could go from 100% to nothing in seconds. There was a lot of sleeping.DSC_5243

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Yes, as you can see, as well as a very unusual coat, seen mostly on Collies, he’s a stumpy dog – vertically challenged – a big dog with short legs. But, I say again, a BIG bark. We’ve been told he’s collie, corgi and basset hound – who cares. He’s lovely.

Anyway, once we’d done some work with recall, it was over the road to the beach. Timid at first, it didn’t take him long to love getting in that water. And, discovering smelly seaweed is great for a roll.

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A few days on and we were feeling confident enough to take him on the hill where lots of dogs get walked. We learned he plays very nicely with other dogs. This was also combined with learning that, although the walk through the streets a little stressful with lots of attempted lunging and successful barking, once we got to a café, life was very good. He loves to lay under the table and watch the world go up and down the street. Not sure what we’ll do in winter when we have to go inside.

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Hopefully, by then, the training will be really paying off and any remnants of previous undesirable behaviour will be non-existent. Maybe?

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In the meantime, whilst the sun shines, we shall take full advantage, have as many adventures as possible, and get as many photos as I can. It looks like we’re going to be lucky dog slaves again 🙂

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Porte Lympne finale

My annual ticket ran out yesterday so I scurried over to Porte Lympne wildlife park in Kent for what might be the last time for a while. As usual, I took a couple hundred photos of which all bar 50 were dealt with by the delete button. Here are my final 10:

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Paying homage to the alpha male
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The Aspinall foundation have release many rhinos back into the wild
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When you choose your food to match your hairdo.
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A natural looking new enclosure for the meerkats
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What a magnificient beast.
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Through the wires of captivity
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The moral dilemma of wild animals in captivity
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Gibbons seem such good parents.
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The grounds of Port Lympne wildlife park.
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A new, huge enclosure for the tigers.

Bodiam Tractor Rally

Warning – Post of many photos

Lots of tractor owners got together in Bodium today to rally through the countryside, raising money for the excellent local cause that is St Michael’s Hospice. There was a huge variety of modern, vintage, big and small tractors that made for an interesting, bright and colourful parade.

Probably not the right platform to dump all these photos but I want them in a public space for others to view. Does anyone have any recommendations for a suitable platform for placing large volumes of event photos?

Images have been uploaded at low resolution – get in touch if you want a better quality image, Click on images to see them full size.

Where the dogs lay

It’s been a while. I shall make no more apologies, suffice to say I’m struggling to get here regularly at the moment. However, because Lightroom Mobile has made it virtually instantaneous, I am dropping something into Instagram on a regular basis: https://www.instagram.com/sixpixx/  which, for the most part, will eventually make its way to this site.

Some of today’s photos won’t make it to Instagram – they’re too personal. Whoa, how did I make that decision: is my blog a more intimate space than my Insta account? And even, why would I want to put something quite personal into the public domain on any platform? Strange and interesting but I don’t have the answer.

Anyway, spring has arrived, even if temporarily, and we’ve been brave today and faced something that needed doing. Today, Poppy got delivered to her final resting place with strict instructions not to antagonise other family dogs (Loulou and Smiler (Emma)) who already rest there. It’s a good spot, especially in the spring when the wood anemones become bluebells and the fox cubs play amongst the pine and oak tree trunks in the evenings. They were always countryside dogs and it’s nice to think of them there.

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Down the wood
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Under the oak

 

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Looking up through the pines
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Amongst the anemones and with the promise of bluebells
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She’ll sleep with those who went before
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And by the way – it used to be a hop farm
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Where folk would come from the towns and cities
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And spend their summers living in Hopper’s huts.

Winter wildlife

I made the most of a sunny, crisp winter’s morning to get over to the  Aspinall Foundation’s Port Lympne wildlife park and see how the animals, many more used to a warmer climate, were coping with this cold spell.

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Maybe feeling a bit bolshy at having her breakfast disturbed?
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An early morning snort.
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This one is indigenous
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Waiting
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Impatient for a feed I think
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The silverback
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Learning the morning song
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Family unit

 

 

Bodium

It wasn’t quite the same walking the orchard this week without the little white thing but the weather was fine and the cider brewery didn’t clear all the apples so the colours were resplendent in the autumn sun. It was such a fine day, we extended our walk up to the castle and engaged with the ducks who are always extremely outrageous but highly comical.

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Autumn windfalls.
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Cider apples that are normally collected by the brewery.
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A hardy few cling on for dear life.
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Sunshine and cobwebs.
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Bodium castle in the sun.
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A formidable construction.
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The moat ducks are audacious
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They always cheer me up.
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Lots of new vineyards in the area producing new local wines.
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Rushes by the river.
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Silhouettes.
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The Bodian steam railway soon to me linked in to the national network.

Last walk around the Orchard

It hasn’t been a particularly good week. After a second trip to the vets with a growth in her mouth and a heart murmur that strongly indicated she wouldn’t cope with the anaesthetic, it was recommended that we make the end easy for her.

Isn’t it ridiculous. Despite being 17 years old, she was still very fit and this was not the outcome I’d prepared myself for. The other half, being country raised and far more pragmatic, had prepared himself for this eventuality. It will be hard for him; they went everywhere together.

Little did we know this was Poppy’s last walk around the orchard – at least she got to stuff that sneaky cider apple before we could get to her. But, who will now nag me for the carrot tops? Poor Molly, not much of a doggy sleep over for you.

Sleep tight puppy dog.

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Port Lympne revisited

I don’t like zoos, I don’t go to the circus, I shan’t be attending festivals involving elephants if we’re lucky enough to get to India later in the year but… I do admire the work of institutions like the Aspinall Foundation. Although the endangered animals are not in their natural environments, far from their homelands, they are at least in spacious enclosures where they are encouraged to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible. At Port Lympne the convenience and comfort of the animal comes before the importance of ‘getting a good look’ for the spectator and therefore, it is often difficult to get a clear photographic shot. I like the challenge… And, as a tiny contribution to supporting the work they do to protect these species, I have bought an annual pass and expect to revisit the park several times this year. I think it is important we all get exposure to endangered species, learn of the difficulties they are currently experiencing and are aware of their lives in the wild.

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Acres for African herbivores to roam.
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Black rhino can often be spotted.
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Dust baths for bison.
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Mud holes for water buffalo.
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What do ostriches do?
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The giraffes have some roaming rights.
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The breeding program seems to be working.
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Baby drill baboon
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The apes have big inside and outside enclosures to choose from.
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Foraging for seeds.
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Keeping safe from the big boys.
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A family unit of gibbons
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A pair of old tigers who have enjoyed a far longer life than they could have hoped for in the wild.
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Shy fishing cat was camouflaged amongst these rocks.