We woke to an impossibly quaint village with literally a babbling brook and thatched roofs. Men in stout boots walking their hounds. Signs like 'Ducks. Dogs on a lead'. Love it. Though it does seems almost dream like, or not quite real anyway. The problem might just be that as a kid who grew up in Australia reading Enid Blyton, and then the Brontes and Austen and so on, seeing all this is like discovering that Harry Potter isn't fiction. That Austen and Blyton and so on are somehow real. I keep saying this stuff and Myles is accusing me of finding fault with everything. It's not that so much, as being suddenly undone by the reality of my imaginings. I am loving it, though. It is so unbelievably beautiful.
We went for a walk early in the morning - still not quite on UK time. Angry geese in the house opposite ours. Good guard dogs I have to say. We made our way up to the top of the hill; the manor house and the church. Both sit on a hill called Heartbreak Hill. Not sure why. They need a plaque. Zelda thought it might be that people climb the hill to break up. It is as plausible as anything else. The church was completely charming but dark feeling. The surrounding graveyard is full of stones that can't be read because of the moss and lichen. Very Emily Dickinson. Isn't there a poem about the names being erased by the moss? I Died for Beauty?? Anyway, starting to believe that perhaps you need to be in England to understand English literature. The church bells rang while we were wandering around. Even Paris was a bit spooked.
Down the hill and through the village. The best playground ever (according to the kids). Then the babbling brook and the stout shoed men, and cottages called 'Ham Cottage' and 'Ham Farm'. ('Dangerous to be a pig' said Myles.) We are staying in Grace Cottage, so no animals were harmed in its making we suspect.
I can't quite convey the spectacular quaintness of the place. Photos perhaps ...
We left Sydling St Nicholas to look around. We went first to Bridport for the market day. Such a lovely town full to pussy's bow with the elderly and the old at heart buying bargains and chatting about the weather. The local notice board groaned with notes about 'Hounds in Hand' and 'Scone Morning' and requests for musicians to join the local bands. I wanted to buy a tonne of stuff from the vintage market (knives mostly, who knew?). We didn't. There isn't much room in our luggage for anything else. The kids ate everything they could get their hands on. They think the English countryside is bang up for food. We saw the largest dog any of us have ever seen. Zelda ran down the road, scattering the elderly this way and that, to pursue it.
We went then to Axminister. This was really just to eat at the River Cottage Canteen. It was actually pretty good. Great hot chocolate anyway, and warm inside as toast which was a bonus as they outside was getting pretty fresh. Thank god for the puffy jackets.
Niccolo was losing it at this point and only treats was keeping him on his feet. He is getting a bit sick. I found medicine that was a sweet as chocolate so two birds with one stone.
We then went to Lyme Regis. This village is on a steep hill (I wasn't at all expecting that) with the tiniest houses and shops possible. It wouldn't have surprised me had fully clothed woodland animals stepped out from the front doors; that is how small everything is. We feel like giants (perhaps we are). Zelda and I were pretty fixed on finding a fossil on the beach. We failed. But it was a mesmerising pasttime and we all sat for ages on the stones, shifting through them looking in vain for a curled imprint on a stone. We didn't make it out onto the breakwater to see the steps that Louisa fell down. It was pretty cold by then. And then back into our funny little village and the warmest house in the world. The heating comes on automatically (and always) and it is tropical. It is very civilised.
I went to sleep at six. I heard in the morning that the others stayed up and watched american sitcoms, and laughed like drains.Cross cultural fun.