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A Citydweller’s Week by the Sea

Cliff Walk not for the vertiginously challenged (me)

Back in London now after a fantastic week away from it all in Dorset, in Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast (South Coast of England about 4 hrs from London for those who don’t know it) which is a designated World Heritage Site. It covers 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to Dorset, with rocks recording 185 million years of the Earth’s history. There’s something about visiting places with amazing geology which I always find really inspiring (even though my ability to retain any information about it is absolutely woeful).  For a long time, I was so into travelling the world that I had barely seen my own country.  I’m embarrassed to admit that where I grew up in Wiltshire is under two hours from the Dorset coast and yet I’d never been.  It’s still the case that the most memorable scenery for me is a long way from home – Colorado and Utah, both of which I’ve been to several times, New Zealand, Australia – but in recent years we’ve started taking week long trips to explore the different corners of England and Wales, and have come to appreciate that there’s also a lot to enjoy on our doorstep (relatively).

The Sun returns after a Storm

The unreliable weather means we never risk the UK for our summer holiday (not when the South of France is calling), but at other times of year it doesn’t seem to matter.  The last week in October brought a real mix of weather but far more good than bad.  And by the sea bad weather can be very atmospheric, producing some fabulously moody views.

Living in one of the highest parts of London I thought I knew all about hills but Lyme Regis is a different kind of steep.  We were staying in a beautiful upside down cottage at the top of the town with the sitting room and sea view balcony on the upper floor.  Walking into the town, the sea seemed to occupy a good portion of the horizon that usually belongs to the sky.  Hopefully all those treks back up went some way towards working off the huge meals we were consuming.  Eating in pubs is something I love when I’m in the country and the pubs of Dorset and Devon don’t disappoint.  Whether we were tucked away beside a log fire watching the rain hammer at the windowpanes or out on a seaside terrace wondering if we were getting sunburnt, everywhere we ate was superb.

Surely a contender for the worst pub sign ever ? I could do better, and believe me, I'm no artist.

The three days my husband and I had to ourselves while the boys were at an activity camp were a real treat – everyday life doesn’t leave much space for calm and relaxation.  You can’t put a price on ending the day looking at a properly black sky full of stars (another thing you can’t do in a big city) and sea air seems to guarantee a good night’s sleep.  But by the time we picked the kids up, we couldn’t wait to see them again and catch up on all their stories.  Watching them chase each other along the beach trying (and not always succeeding) to dodge the tide reminded me of two young dogs and it was infectious.  On Friday it was really warm (like summer should be, and often isn’t) and we walked from Burton Beach to West Bay and back, stopping for lunch and taking the whole day over it.  Since my kids think anything I do is embarrassing and crazy, there’s nothing to lose by really going for it.  I ran along the beach spinning, with my arms flung wide and my hair all over the place and when they asked me what (on earth) I was doing, the answer was, ‘I’m spring-cleaning my mind.’   Yes, I know that sounds like a cheesy slogan for a spa hotel, but that’s how it felt.

Let’s see how long it lasts !

Beach Walk to West Bay

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About Isabel Costello

Novelist and short story writer based in London. Debut novel PARIS MON AMOUR now out in digital and audio, paperback on 22 May 2017. Host of the Literary Sofa blog.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “A Citydweller’s Week by the Sea

  1. Sounds like a fabulous week, Isabel – great photos! I agree with you about bad weather being quite atmospheric when you’re by the sea. I like a ‘bit of weather’ when staying in the countryside too – there’s something about snuggling up in a cosy cottage when the wind is howling on the moor and rain is lashing the windowpanes…

    Posted by susan elliot wright | October 31, 2011, 11:22
  2. Thanks Susan, good to know it’s not just me! Where writing is concerned I MUCH prefer the dark and wintry months, so the timing is just right now for the final push to get my novel into presentable shape.

    Lucky you having the Peaks on your doorstep. One of my best friends (Hi Jo!) lives in Knaresborough in N Yorks so we are regular visitors to that area and to the Dales. I love Yorkshire. Have you read The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher? It’s the only book I’ve read set in Sheffield and it’s one of my all time favourites.

    Posted by Isabel Costello | October 31, 2011, 20:26
  3. Want. To. Go. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely week with us! I (almost) feel like I’ve been in Dorset myself.

    Posted by Kristin | November 7, 2011, 23:41

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