WARNING: This is a long post so you may want to skip through it or not bother with it at all - I am writing it as much for myself to look back on as to share so haven't cut it down as much as maybe I should for you all!
Some long while ago in December 2010 I heard a series of programmes on Radio 4 about people who had done various longer trips using their bus passes and resolved to try it myself. I had just had an e-mail from a friend living in France in which she said that she and her husband were hoping to go on a Caribbean cruise and that it would give her the chance to wear some of her evening dresses. I had to laugh as there was I thinking of doing a trip where I would pack a couple of clean pairs of knickers and a toothbrush! Vive la difference eh?!! I never heard whether or not she got her cruise or the opportunity to wear her frocks but procrastination being my middle name I have only just got round to doing my planned break!
Mr Marigold not really being up to it as yet (and truth to tell I don't think it was ever really his idea of fun) I decided to go alone - wanting to do it whilst I still can and before the dark nights and cold weather close in. Mr M was happy to act as Research Assistant having far more patience than I when it comes to looking up bus timetables and walking routes etc on the internet. I spent several happy evenings at the kitchen table surrounded with maps, timetables and leaflets and a plan was drawn up. My original plan was to stay somewhere different each night but on second thoughts although this might be possible it would have been exhausting so Plan B came about in which I would spend 3 nights in one B&B and thus not have to carry my belongings with me all day every day.
|The route to town|
On Tuesday morning I woke to a beautiful apricot light making the rose hips on the hedge along our driveway shine crimson and bathing everything in a soft orange glow. So much for the cloudy and wet week I thought I was in for. At 8.15 I shouldered my back pack, waved goodbye and set off to walk to the bus station (Mr M had offered to drive me but that would have rather defeated the object - not that I really know what the object was!) It was quiet and peaceful as I made my way along the usual route thinking about the day my daughter set off carrying an enormous back pack on her way to Australia for a year all alone and my admiration for her grew! What I was doing was very, very small beer in comparison.
I caught the bus to Dorchester - a journey which took us about 30 minutes in the car last Sunday took over an hour but the route was via Sherborne and on through villages with names like Longburton, Glanvilles Wooton, Minterne Magna and Cerne Abbas where the Giant could be seen in the fields alongside the road. In places the hedges were brushing the bus on both sides and the countryside was at its early autumn best in the sunshine. The hedgerows were clotted here and there with creamy honeysuckle tinged with pink (pity I couldn't smell it inside the bus) and plenty of other wild flowers were still in evidence. At one point we met the bus coming the other way and the road being so narrow our bus had to back up quite some distance. It's not a job for the faint hearted being a country bus driver as we squeezed past a tractor and trailer loaded with golden straw on a right angled bend in one village and parked cars in another!
In Dorchester I changed buses and with a very short wait caught a bus to Weymouth. What a difference to the last time I was here - the beach was almost deserted this time. I wanted to go up in that tower you can see at the end of the pier - last time we hadn't had time to do so - so that was what I did first of all. It wasn't a patch on the London Eye and I didn't think it worth the money but I am glad that I tried it! The photos below are all taken from the tower.
Shadow of the tower in the water below!
The harbour and Portland in the distance
The bus I got from there was the X53 the Jurassic Coast Link bus which runs from Exeter to Bournemouth mainly along the coast. My next stop was Wareham - the photo shows the bridge there - I had a wander round and a cup of tea before catching yet another bus to Swanage where I had booked my 3 nights.
Having slept well I enjoyed being waited on and to having not only cereal but toast and a choice of English breakfast items. I chose grilled tomatoes on toast as I didn't want to pile on the weight! Over breakfast another guest told me of a bus which I could get from Swanage which would take me to Durlston Castle and the walk I had planned.
Time for a sit down and a sandwich now, although not here! I found a nice pub which served delicious crab sandwiches and my favourite bitter shandy!
Just taken a short break from posting to watch the final moments of the Tour of Britain cycle race which Mr M has been watching and to see the house where I used to live, the Law College and the Library where I once worked and the High Street where I used to shop in Guildford!
To continue with my second day on the Isle of Purbeck:
Decided to get a bus to Studland and to walk out to the Old Harry Rocks which had been gleaming white in the sunshine all morning when I saw them from Durlston. Studland was such a small village I overshot it on the bus and had a 10 minute walk back along the road!
Studland and Godlingstone Heath on its way to the ferry. I don't know if this is unique but there can't be many bus routes which involve a ferry crossing!
If you are still with me here - you deserve a medal - I will stop now and continue with the other 2 days of my trip another time.