Deepest, Darkest Dorset

Let me introduce a little ‘pet’ I found in deepest, darkest Dorset. I’m sure he’ll make the perfect guard dog; he’ll even deal with troublesome neighbours. I may name him Fido.

We’ve only visited Dorset once before and now, living far closer, we explored more of the area. We stayed in lovely accommodation, sharing the use of the owners’ wonderful garden. So wonderful, it rather inspired me so that I brought several plants home from garden centres in the area. It’s official — I cannot add another plant to the garden from here on. It’s simply jampacked. I’ve also got a clear idea of what I’ll do with our next garden should we get the chance to make another move. This garden is far too established to change now.

We kept things simple for me as I find going out and about currently difficult for health reasons, choosing to visit gardens, houses, maybe a beach, starting with a day out, in and around Abbotsbury, which is an attractive village built in bluff stone. We visiting Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens and the Abbotsbury Swannery. They’re separate but close by and you can save by purchasing a ticket for both at either attraction without having to go to each on the same day. All the birds are free, but as they’re fed twice a day and provided with appropriate pens and nesting material, they choose to nest here. At the time we went, the cygnets were hatching, and it was full on cuteness overload.

Cerne Abbas is worth visiting for a short while, though there’s not much there. We did a circular walk along the river into the village, around the buildings on the oldest street (much my favourite), and to the abbey. Reviews complain about the price to enter the abbey grounds, and I see the point. At £2.50 a head (paid via honesty box), it’s pricey for what’s there.

The Oldest Street

From the grounds of the old cemetery, one can head into the woods and even up to and around the Cerne Giant, though it’s now fenced off to protect it. We headed further out and then made our way back, at last heading down on what to me felt like an almost vertical descent. The so-called ‘steps’ on the left side of the giant are hardly that.

Visions of ‘As You Wish’ tumbling down the hillside for those of who you’ve seen The Princess Bride

We looked at the giant from the viewpoint (best way to see it, anyway, so unless you love walking save yourself the trek), and had a much needed cream tea in the garden of the local tearoom.

Cerne Giant

Nearby, though going over the border into Somerset, are the National Trust properties of Montacute House, and Tintinhull Gardens. Back into Dorest, there’s Kingston Lacy and, though not National Trust there’s Thorncroft Woods, which contains Thomas Hardy’s cottage, which is. We also explored Minterne Gardens and made our way over to Weymouth, though I found that to be a little too quintessential ‘British beach holiday’ material for me. I far prefer less crowded long winding beaches, or small secret coves.

Dragon #18

Not my best dragon by any means, and rather cheap, but I liked the colours on these guys, and had to add a set of Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil dragons to my collection.

Update May 2022

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Late with May’s news as we’ve away on holiday, but more on that next time with maybe a photo or two.

FILM/TV:

Still re-watching Deep Space 9, and the last season of The Rookie. Film wise, we were spoilt for choice, though not had a lot of time to watch any. Here Today starring Billy Crystal turned out better than expected and not at all what we expected going in. Highly recommend this story of an unusual friendship. Ghostbusters Afterlife is wonderfully nostalgic for fans of the original movies, and a delightful tribute to Harold Ramis.

READING:

Ghostbusters (The Original Movie Novelisations Omnibus) Richard Mueller, Ed Naha, narrated by Johnny Heller (audio)

Well read, with a hint at some voices of the characters in the films. Fleshes out the character’s thoughts, though not hugely. Unnecessary if one has seen the films, but I still found them enjoyable as I could easily picture the scenes in my mind.

Big Trouble, Dave Barry

In some ways ludicrous (if airport security was ever this lax, we’re all in trouble), but it’s meant to be. I’ve seen some comments mentioning a lack of character depth, but it’s not that kind of story. I wouldn’t call it as funny as it’s marketed to be, but it made me smile and I might even read this again some day or check out more of this author’s work.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury

I thought I’d read this when young, but I remembered little of it. It’s more likely someone told me the story, because had I read this, there’s no way I would have forgotten the writing. I can’t help thinking had I ever turned in a story written in such a style, my teachers would have thrown fits, siting grammar rules until I grew dizzy. But this is the indomitable Bradbury and not only does he know how to break the rules, he does it so well. Some of my teachers would have cited that many sentences don’t make grammatical sense, and they don’t in a purist way, but what they do is conjure up sensations and emotions. Take the title alone, which at least one teacher would have told me should read Something Wicked Comes This Way… but it would never have been so memorable; would never be so visceral. Plus, there’s the multi-layers of subtext: a book about good and evil, being young, growing old, accepting these things, not harping on them, not worrying about them and not fearing them so much one forgets to live, to enjoy and feel blessed every day. It also speaks of friendship and family, of love, and of laughing in the face of despair as a way of pushing back the darkness — the sorrows of life and the eventual darkness. I’m sure others will find their own interpretations, but for me, this book covers the gamut of life and death in all its joys and woes. Chilling, full of dread, atmospheric, mesmerising, thrilling, captivating, and masterfully executed.

Operation Wildcat and Other Stores, Edited by Tim Gambrell

Not sure I should review this as it contains one of my stories, so let me just say my favourite idea in the book is Honourable Discharge by Chris Lynch, though I also liked Old Fowlkes’ Home by Martin Parker as it’s an Anne Travers story.

The Cinderella Deal, Jennifer Crusie

I started this immediately, thinking this was far from the author’s best. Still, I wanted to love this book, though I dithered between liking it and loving it… until I finished. On the one hand, the story’s contrived, but stranger things have happened in life. And there’s something endearing about these opposites attract tale, where people aren’t all they seem despite their bluster. Think of it as an outrageous rom-com and sit back and enjoy getting the most from this story of a marriage of convenience that’s anything but. I eventually came thoroughly to enjoy this story of falling in love… after the marriage. No big surprises there; this is a romance, after all. What surprises the most are the characters of the protagonists and the way they help each other change in rewarding ways.

Cemetery Drive, J.T.Wilson

This book turned out to be an interesting look at life and death in a style reminiscent of Douglas Adams or a favourite stand-up comic. Amusing more than laugh out loud, but entertaining and well-written. A good choice for anyone who likes to see the character of Death personified.

A Spring Affair, Milly Johnson (audio read by Colleen Penderghast)

Not usually my sort of read; however, I really like the narrator, so gave Milly Johnson’s work a go. The author’s done exceptionally well, creating the ultimate in manipulative people, and people who too often allow themselves to be manipulated. The story begins with the main character giving her home a spring clean, bravely chucking out all the detritus in her life when the reader knows she has one major piece of rubbish she most definitely needs to get rid of.

WRITING

Alas, I grew tired of the story I’ve been working on. Instead of continuing to torture myself, I shelved it. Maybe one day I’ll pick it up again and be delighted and maybe I won’t and be disappointed. Right now, I want to work on my Dark Fiction novel, and maybe stretch my short story skills, which I’ve not done for some time.

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x