After Weymouth, conscious that while we were staying in relaxed Christchurch we had only been to the town centre once briefly since arriving, we popped in arriving just after 5pm the town was quiet even though the rain had stopped.
I’d been wanting to try the Dessert Lounge (cleverly called ‘Indulge Yourself’) which always looks so enticing with its candyfloss pink front and made-to-look retro interior. Again, an expensive visit with two slices of cake, a coke and a mug -not a pot (I refuse to opt for a pot where the establishment charges extra for the pleasure, on principle even though I actually enjoy it more out of a pot more, call it cutting my nose off to spite my face, if you will) coming in at a little under twelve pound.
Points gained for the vast choice of cake with everything from Victoria Sponge to Tiramasu and everything in between, the friendly owner (Gavin, who seems to know all of the oap ladies who popped in during our short visit by name and made a point to ask about their husband or children or if they were feeling better after a stay in hospital) but points lost for bringing a diet coke when we ordered coke- proper full sugar, full everything red label coke, which makes sense when tucking into a slice of cake the size of your face if you ask me, and trying a little too hard to be Kitsch (don’t ask me why it annoyed me but the duplication of certain of the slogan signs hung on the walls was such a niggle).
I opted for lemon meringue cheesecake having had a real hankering for lemon meringue all day while Sam had an Almond Tart Slice (not the proper name but I can’t remember what it was). Both were delicious and the portion sizes generous.
On Wednesday we had planned (the Itinerary) to visit Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, we knew the rough direction we’d betravelling and had seen a sign for the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum during our travels to Weymouth the day before. I didn’t know much about the Martyrs but was reliably informed that they were effectively the founders of trade unions as we know them today. Enttry (and parking) was free and the subject matter was fascinating – the museum, small but perfectly formed- was informative and worth a visit if you’re in the area.
We didn’t stop for lunch having stopped into Cheese and Alfies in Christchurch for breakfast.
All of the restaurants in the area had similar prices and we hadn’t intended to go to Cheese and Alfies at all but to the restaurant over the road which wasn’t open just before 10am when we arrived and had no signs advising of opening. Cheese and Alfies is one of those places that looks trendy but small despite a sign that says “come in- there’s loads more seating upstairs”. It is, though, deceptively large. It’s also quirky but not in a try-hard way.
We ordered a sausage butty with a side of beans (which was tasty, although the doorstep bread was a little too thick and one slice was stale, as though it had been the end piece of a loaf which hadn’t been closed properly since the last slice was sliced. It also came with a sprinkling of pine nuts which was simply not necessary but that is, perhaps, because we simple yorkshire folk want our butty with no nonsense thank you very much). I had a ‘Pan’, which come as they are (the menu specifies no substitutions) but was delicious, especially the eggs although I again resented the £1.00 supplement for the pleasure of having my ‘eggs any way’ scrambled. 2 breakfasts, a pot of tea (which was hefty and retro and not too weak or strong) and a coffee came in ata little over £20 which I didn’t think was too bad. I also know that this particular restaurant offers discount on the evening menu with Tastecard which is always good to keep in mind if you fancy a treat tea on a budget. I’d go again, if only for the book swap where you can take one of the books in the chair backs for free just as long as you replace it next time you visit, a smashing little idea, and all said and done the breakfast was tasty and kept us full up until tea time without that horrible greasy feeling a fry up sometimes leaves behind.
Next we went on to Thomas Hardy’s Cottag, the renowned English author was born and raised in Dorset and by all accounts referenced the area and those nearby in some of his works. The cottage in the middle of nowhere, with the closest town being Dorchester and the next closest village in the other direction some 4 miles away through the forest is Tolpuddle and was built by Hardy’s great grandparents who were stonemasons by trade. Each room held a book with information about the parlour, the bedroom or whichever it was and the staff, like all English Heritage staff, I found to be interested and passionate. We also met Millie the cat, a stray who has adpoted the cottage and is happy to let visitors pet her rewarding them with a loud, satisfied purr and any day out is better when encountering a friendly feline, in my opinion.
Stonehenge is about a 50 minute drive from where we were staying in Christchurch, which is where we went on Thursday.
Stonehenge is an attraction – with over a million visitors annually – which thanks you for planning ahead. Free parking for doing so and information about an (also free) downloadable smarthphone app instead of renting the pricey audioguide which you can do without after paying the (pretty steep) entrance fee. The visitor centre is interesting although as no one really knows the purpose of the huge stone monument for sure, you won’t find any solid answers (pun intended. Sorry.
We arrived just before 10:30 before many of the crowds though by the time we were leaving mid-afternoon several school groups had arrived with teens caring more about getting the perfect selfie (some not even looking in the relevant direction) than the wonder before them
On Friday we were treated to a day of summer weather. We mooched around Christchurch then headed to the local seaside resort of Bournemouth where we spent too much in the arcades (our games of choice were the 10p fruit machines, the table football and the grabbers – which Sam decided are a “swizz” having fed several pound coins in to try and win me a Monsters Inc Mike only for the machine to release it at the last minute, several times.) As an aside, the very first time we ever went to the seaside back in 2011, Sam won me a stuffed toy from the grabber machine FIRST TIME. If ever there was good timing for that to happen, there it was. Then we laid on the beach and watched the world go by soaking up the sun and quietly playing music while enjoying Harry Ramsden’s free wifi.
As always with a holiday, Friday came around too quickly. Saturday is a day to drive home and listen to Roald Dahl’s The Witches, keeping our fingers crossed not to hit traffic then relax at home petless until we collect the Boys (our tabby cat and Dylan our grumpy but loveable Westie, if you’re not a regular reader) on Sunday. It’s been lovely.
Now, let the countdown commence til the next.