There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Our Dorset Photo Album

Wherever you go becomes
a part of you somehow.
~Anita Desai

Stuart and I have been travelling together since the first moment we met at Heathrow airport, nearly 18 years ago. Since that day, we've explored nearly every corner of the British Isles and driven the width of the United States together. Travelling is one of the things we do best. Our two businesses keep us firmly tethered to Oxford, but we still manage to escape at least three or four times a year. Two weeks ago it was to Dorset, one of our favourite counties. Hardy country, the Jurassic coast, and a pastoral landscape that sweeps down to the sea; where road signs read like novels.

Since it was early March, daffodils were swaying
everywhere we looked--along roadsides, 
in tiny gardens, in churchyards and village greens.

The village store in Corfe Castle. I loved the
display of bright primroses for sale out in front.
The village of Corfe Castle,
the castle ruins in the background.

Corfe Castle old mill site, where grains would
have been milled for the surrounding villages.

For myself I hold no preferences among
flowers, so long as they are wild, free,
spontaneous. Bricks to all greenhouses!
Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!
~Edward Abbey

Roadside daffodils.
 Day 1
Our first stop after leaving Oxford was Avebury,
in Wiltshire, just north of Stonehenge. The
neolithic standing stones and the henge (ditch)
surround the entire village and unlike Stonehenge,
you can walk amongst the stones. 

The neolithic Avebury stones are part
of the Stonehenge complex of henges,
burial mounds, avenues of stones, and
stone circles. Most of the Avebury circle
dates from 3000-2400BCE.

It was freezing (!!!!) that afternoon, with a piercing
wind, so we had to bundle up snug and warm for
our walk through the stones. This is me doing my
best 'Outlander' impersonation, trying to get to 
Scotland and Jamie. As you can see it didn't work--
not this time at least. There's always next time.

Before braving the cold winds swirling through the
stones, we visited Avebury Manor National Trust,
a 16th century manor house. It was in a very poor
state until it was redone and restored by the BBC
for the show, 'To the Manor Re-Born' in the '90s.

Avebury Manor was built about the same time as our house,
in the early to mid-16th century, so it has the same type of
Tudor panelling as our breakfast room.
Such a familiar sight to us.

My favourite room in stately homes is usually the
kitchenand the kitchen in Avebury Manor was a
gem. Stunning. I was ready to move in.

 Stuart dragged me out the kitchen and
we had a walk through the village, then 
through the stones and back in the car....
on to Dorset and Dorchester.

After getting lost just once and one minor
navigating argument, we finally made it
to Dorchester and our hotel.

We usually stay at the Casterbridge Hotel right
in the centre of Dorchester. Thomas Hardy
renamed Dorchester to Casterbridge in his novel,
The Mayor of Casterbridge,
and it's full of Hardy literary connections.

I won't be a slave to the past. 
I'll love where I choose.
~Thomas Hardy, 
'The Mayor of Casterbridge'

Dorchester's High Street, as we walked 
up the hill to dinner in the evening.

Day 2
The day started perfectly with someone else
making our breakfast for a change--and we
slept until 8am. Simply unheard of back home. Then
we were off to wander the Dorset countryside.
Dorset is full of winding country lanes and you 
never know what's just around the next bend.....
in this case it was the village of Piddlehinton!
I think it might be Dorset for "enchanting".

Piddlehinton is very near Tincleton,
which is now Jack's new nickname.
Dorset place names are full of 'puddles'
and 'tincles' and 'piddles', all old English
words for wetlands or marshy fens.

More of Piddlehinton, more enchantment.

Enchantment lies in everyday
moments if you are observant.
~Amy Leigh Mercree

We loved Piddlehinton so much Stuart thought he 
might apply for the position of village water-boy,
which doubles as the village idiot position.
(His joke not mine!!!)

We also had a pit-stop at one of my favourite
chicken supply companies, whose base is in
Dorset near Dorchester, Flyte So Fancy.
Put me in a feedstore and I'm as happy as
Holly Golightly in Tiffany's.

I was immediately covetous of this picaresque chicken coop!
It wouldn't suit our back garden, but one day perhaps we'll
have the perfect garden for it. 'Til then it's tucked away in
the "I Simply Must Have It" file in my brain.
This coop is more our speed at the moment--
and £2000 less. Miss Havisham and
Lady Catherine de Bourgh would look awfully
elegant, mincing down that ramp every morning.

It was Nirvana,
chickens and daffodils,
in the English countryside.

Elegant chickens which looked like
they'd be right at home on the
set of Downton Abbey.

We browsed in the shop and I picked up
a chair cushion in this fabric, a new mug,
as well as feed and treats for the girls back home.

Then we were off to see what was around
the next bend. We always ended up
with more choices than time.

Day 3

The day started out rainy but it didn't dampen
our spirits as we set off down our first
single-track lane of the day.

It is not down in any map; 
true places never are. 
 ~Herman Melville

Our first stop was Corfe Castle ruins and
village in the Purbeck district of Dorset.

In 1643 the castle survived being besieged during
the civil war, saved by Royalist and indomitable
Lady Bankes. She held fast against the
Parliamentarians for six weekshowever
the castle was later lost in 1645, one of the
last Royalist strongholds in the country.

The village of Corfe Castle lies
just below the castle ruins.

From Corfe Castle we drove toward Abbotsbury
and the sea. We came upon team of ducks
on their daily commute.

Looking out into the channel and across to 
Brittany, France,
a place we love almost as much as we love Dorset.

Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow
and vision of things not seen. We couldn't
enjoy its loveliness any more if we had
millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.
~L.M. Montgomery, 
'Anne of Green Gables'

 Looking back toward Chesil Beach
and the Isle of Portland.

Our next stop was Lyme Regis......and the
novel/movie re-enactment portion of our holiday.

Stuart playing Louisa Musgrove in 'Persuasion'.
I think he player her quite convincingly, since

 I was not prepared to catch him. Luckily,
unlike in 'Persuasion', there was no injury and
we didn't have to spend six weeks in Lyme Regis.

This is me doing my best Meryl Street in
'The French Lieutenant's Woman'--
I had just neglected to pack my cape.

We walked back down the beach toward afternoon
tea, the cold wind howling all around us, but I
couldn't get enough of the ice cream colours of the
beach huts and had to stop to admire nearly every one.

Most of these beach huts are rented daily or
weekly as a place for people to change, dry off,
get warm, make tea, or store picnic
supplies during their time at the beach.

I had a peek inside a few. Some were
quite simple and charming.

How different it would be in just a few months,
the beach hut doors flung wide open to the sea air,
children playing in the sand, mums and dads making
tea and serving sandwiches from their cozy huts.

It was time to leave the pastels and thoughts of
summer behind and stop for afternoon tea.

Stuart and I each do our scones differently. He does
Cornwall with the jam spread first and then the clotted
cream; I'm Devon, first clotted cream, then jam. Either
way, they were perfect and the one thing we do agree
on is lots of clotted cream. In this case, more is more.
Day 4

 The next day was much brighter and more hopeful
for better weather. We didn't have too much
planned, just wander through the Dorset lanes to
see what we could find, always sticking to the
 single track roads and off the beaten path.

Our first stop was the village of Milton Abbas
with it's thatched roof cottages lining
the lane that runs through the village.
I wish I could add the sountrack of the
birdsong that morning to the photos.
Cottages and songbirds--that's the English countryside.

We had a quick stop in the village post office
just because we love village post offices......

......and for this photo alone, it was worth the stop.
I guess technology was slow to come to Milton Abbas.

After Milton Abbas it was more country lane
wandering until we reached beautiful Shaftesbury.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, was made famous by the Hovis
bread advert in the 70's. There weren't many people
about that day because a few minutes before it had
tried very hard to snow--so we had the hill to ourselves.
Because we still hadn't had enough scones on
our holiday, (which may not even be possible), we
stopped by a small, local bakery. The scones smelled
every bit as good as they look. There's nothing
better than a family bakery-- long may they
survive and thrive. We certainly do our bit in support.

Fresh hot cross buns fill an antique wooden dough mixing bowl.

I thought this sign in Shaftesbury was perfect.
What better time to think about the year
ahead than on holiday, taking stock, reaffirming,
thinking about the future. As I head into my
60's starting in July, I thought this was
a good and gentle reminder.

Day 5
And then before we knew it, it was time to go home,
home to Oxford. But not before grabbing a couple
of pasties to take home for dinner.
(They didn't even make it to the car--
dinner would have to be something else.)

Cornish pasties fresh from the oven.

We had a quick stop in the village of Moreton,
where T.E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, is
buried in the cemetery about 50 yards from the
church, just off the main road through the village.

With all his life's accomplishments, the only personal thing
about his life that Lawrence wanted engraved on his headstone
was that he was a  fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
That's how much it meant to him.

The height of sophistication is simplicity. 
~Clare Boothe Luce

We said goodbye to our Dorset and made our way to
Wiltshire, for a stop at Stonehenge to see the
new visitor's centre and say a quick hello to
old friends, the standing stones.

But when we got out of the car, the wind nearly
blew us over and it was trying to snow--again!! We
had a look around the stunning new visitor's centre
and the new and improved gift shop and then were 
on our way. A photo of the stones from the car
window would have to suffice on such a
miserably cold and windswept day.

Neolithic huts like the ones that would have
peppered the landscape surrounding Stonehenge.
A replica of one of the grand sarcen stones found at Stonehenge.
Stuart is always up to any challenge--this one in the
new exhibit shows how much man-power
it took to haul the stones into place.

March was coming in like a lion so we decided to
 settle for seeing the stones from the car window,
with a wave and a 'catch you the next time around!'

And then before we knew it we were
back on the High Street in Oxford.....

.......rounding the corner onto Longwall Street........ Holywell Street..........

.....and then home again, safe and sound,
after the loveliest time away.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to
travel until he comes home and
rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. 
 ~Lin Yutang

We brought a little bit of Dorset home
with us in our hearts and in our teacups.

Dorchester is a perfect place to base your Dorset travels, with a Hardy and Dorset county museum, wonderful restaurants, good shopping and friendly locals.

The Casterbridge B&B, Dorchester~This is the fourth time we've stayed at The Casterbridge and cannot recommend it enough. Small and elegant, recently refurbished, it's the perfect base for exploring Dorset.

Visit Dorset--There's so much to choose from in the stunning county of Dorset. Seaside views, quintessential English villages, beautiful scenery, coastal walks, and filled with history.

Avebury National Trust~Unlike Stonehenge, the Avebury stones are fully accessible and the beautiful manor house well worth visiting.

Stonehenge is always exciting to visit and even more so since the new visitor's centre has opened. 

The Thomas Hardy Trail~Visit Thomas Hardy's 'Wessex'.

Thomas Hardy's Cottage was sadly still closed for the season during our holiday, but is now reopened and is a must on the Hardy Trail.

Beautiful Corfe Castle, Purbeck District, Dorset.

Lyme Regis is a beautiful, small seaside town, with lovely shops and a historic beach and harbour.

Flyte So Fancy if you're in Dorset and in need of chicken supplies, friendly people and excellent products and service.


  1. Oh oh, oh!! Words escape (not really, as you will see!!) I've been waiting for this!! What an enchanting trip. I'm going to have to stay months and months if/when I ever come to the English countryside!! Dorset has it all, doesn't it! Except for Oxford, of course!! The storybook names of the villages and streets! That kitchen with all the Blue Willow (I felt quite at home!), and that STOVE!!! Oh my goodness!! The gypsy wagon hen house!! The countryside winding down to the sea, and those darling pastel beach houses!! And of course, the scones!! I'm a jam on top person, too. Must be an American thing! I'm drooling with all those bakery goods. I haven't had lunch yet, and may need to make some scones!! Oh, Carrie, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful travel blog!! Jane xoxoxo P.S. Did you say Jack has a new name? Does he know it yet??!!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed your virtual holiday in Dorset! It is the loveliest of spots, with so much history (part of the ancient Wessex) and literary background, plus the sweet villages with the sea thrown in to boot. And yes, I'm terrible about nicknames for my pets so now Jack is AKA Tincleton, especially when he's being a just a little bit naughty--which happily is not all that often any more. Enjoy your scones! xxCarrieoo

  2. Thank you for taking us with you on your journey to Dorset! Two thoughts: that kitchen in the Manor! Wow! Loved the copper pots. And the scones. There's no such thing as too many. And for that I am glad! (And I'm a "Devon" girl too.)


    1. Thanks for coming along--it's too wonderful a place not to share. Yes, that kitchen was stupendous and the nice thing was that it was very accessible. They encourage people to touch things and play around with it all--to experience a kitchen from that time-period. It was all useful and beautiful. And Devon rules all the way! All the best! xxCArrieoo

  3. Dear Carrie. I hope you don't mind me commenting on your older posts but I just have to since I've found so interesting things here in your blog :D
    I'd like to also get to Scotland and Jamie! I've read the books years ago and I love the TV series. Just waiting for the season 2 showing here this summer. Yee! :D We seem to share the love of the history with you...
    We have photos from that exact same spot on the hill top towards to the Isle of Portland! We stopped there 2014 on our way from Weymouth to Jurassic Coast in West Bay. We love the English coast line cliffs. What an amazing spot and view! <3 Visiting the Seven Sisters (2010) was totally a dream come true to me :D
    Take care and have a nice day!!

  4. Oh I never, ever mind comments! Love them! Love to know what people think, know you enjoyed it. Season 2 of Outlander just started here but I haven't started it yet--I'm waiting for the perfect moment to savour it. :-) Sounds like you enjoyed the beauty of Dorset too--it's one of our favourite spots in all of Britain. Thanks for stopping by and talk to you again soon! xxCarrieoo