“What about if I come to you? I do much better in the outdoors and in smaller groups. So does Django!”
With that one, quick WhatsApp message to my niece, my next solo doggie jaunt was born. Within twenty minutes I was messaging her back with the details of this little gem:
Anoushka, the niece, has always championed this area of Dorset yet, aside from Lyme Regis, Nige and I had never explored it. So, for that reason alone, it seemed like a sound plan.
Arrive: Anytime Depart: Anytime
I very much loved the relaxed approach at Bredy Farm. Knowing that I could get there whenever I wanted to meant that I wasn’t stressed as the SatNav continually chatted on, with instructions to ‘turn left’, ‘turn right’, ‘enter the roundabout’ every thirty seconds – I became so comfortable with the constant natter, I found myself replying, ‘This way, are you sure? Well you’re the boss…’ And apparently, she was: I found it with no real drama or trouble. Not sure that would’ve happened with just Nige and me.
I rumbled through the idyllic orchard, looking for a place to park up (noting at least another three T4s). I plumped for the far end and only as I parked up did I notice the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner. That’ll be a party later then!
I realised, as I switched off the engine, that it had been a tearless journey. Now, that is unusual. For thirty years I had Nige either in the car or waiting for me at my destination and so car trips have, up until now, been incredibly emotive. But somehow, as I pulled into the orchard, my mind was somewhere else. Somewhere completely new. Perhaps that’s it.
Whilst Django made furry friends, I put up the awning. The sun was shining, my jumper was off and a field full of sheep set the scene of tranquility. A couple opposite were dozing off in the sun as their little dog bounded about with my big puppy. Next to me, one lot of the party-goers had arrived and seemed really lovely – they had a puppy too, though only the size of one of Django’s legs. After smiling and chatting I conceded to the voice in my head saying, ‘Cider. Ice cold, local cider.’ I downed tools, untangled Django and set off to the farm’s Cider Shed.
Sitting in the courtyard, beautiful languid puppy sniffing around an equally beautiful 1970s Lincoln (!) Sunshine warming body and soul, with an ice cold pint of Monica Lewinsky – yeah, what a stunning start to the bank holiday weekend!
Half a pint gone and I remembered that I needed to eat. I’d brought Django’s food but totally forgot myself, and as nice as the cider was, it wasn’t dinner.
‘Just a short walk to the village… about 10 minutes?’
Any moaning I do now is utterly futile as there was no choice but to walk the mile and a half to the Texaco garage, but ten minutes it was not… The first part was a joy, as we wended our way over the River Bride, turned right onto the road to Burton Bradstock with hopes of seeing the Texaco sign in the distance. Nope. The road to Burton Bradstock is a long a winding one indeed. To shake it up a bit, I took Django on a detour to Hive Beach. Now that was lovely. Furthermore there was a cafe serving, the sign said, until 5pm. It was quarter past 4. Feeling a bit smug that my detour wasn’t foolhardy, I asked about food; ‘Sorry, we’ve finished serving.’ Oh, well, hmm. Too hungry and tired to say anything else, I retraced our steps back to the road we were on. And then error number 2: ‘Oh look Django, a footpath to the village…’ Again, it was a worthy detour; I got to see the village and it gave me a sense of where we were but also where we weren’t, and that was at the bloody garage. A quick look at the map on the village hall showed me Donkey Lane, leading to High Street where there’s a, you guessed it, garage!
Django loved the coolness of the fridges so we spent a few minutes opening them, feigning interest in perishables. Aside from the make-shift air conditioning, there wasn’t much else. I grabbed an egg and cress roll and a couple of bags of fancy crisps. The young lad serving went a bit ga-ga over Django which made me beam a bit with motherly pride. Mission finally accomplished, we left. Crossing the main road, I saw, around the first bend the entrance to the footpath I’d taken us on… For the whole walk back to camp I was muttering, ‘If we hadn’t had taken the footpath I’d be round that bend down there by now.’ That then became, ‘If we hadn’t have gone to the beach, I’d be back at the van, supping cider, tucking into this pallid egg fucking roll by now…’ All the while Django bounced ahead of me – panting a bit but he wasn’t being a moaning old dick like me. Somewhere Nige would be noting the irony.
Sunset and Cider
I bought a small carton of Lewinsky, chatted with a few of my fellow campers at the bar and then we took our leave; Django and I. He told every dog on the camp that I’d forced him on a ‘should’ve-been-a-3-mile-but-she-made-it-a-5-mile-hike’ which gave him kudos I think. Well, every dog has his day (you just knew that was coming, right?) The party goers were all there by the time we’d returned. They were extremely polite and not at all leary… though they did all have sparkly face tattoos. Fine when in a ‘sparkly’ group but I felt for the big fella who had to walk to the farm and buy the cider, on is own.
As the group sat around their barbecues, swilling cider and Prosecco, sharing tales and laughing, Django and I sat out on the grass. We didn’t have a fire because it was too warm. Lucky really because I forgot to buy anything to burn. Or matches… I did buy some pretty lights though. Anyway, none of that compares to a setting sun and a few mugs of cider. With a smile on our faces, we climbed into the van, swish-banged the door and settled down for the night with Washington Irving’s, Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.
West Bay and the Point of the Visit
After my disappointing first visit to the Hive Cafe, I decided I’d have breakfast there. We got up about 9 I guess and before coffee I dismantled the awning. It wasn’t as hard as you’d think as Django had (helpfully) chewed right through a few of the guy ropes. The whole structure was barely hanging on… I felt quite sad to be going and could’ve done another night, I think. That said, I would need to be better equipped with food, wood, matches etc. It took barely 5 minutes to drive to the cafe. Parking was straight forward and getting seated with a dog was not a problem either. I ordered Mushroom Benedict with some home-made doggie treats for Django. My goodness, food never tasted so good! I was clearly hungry and this was just what I needed before driving to West Bay to meet up with Seb, Noush and the kids.
We weren’t meeting until midday but I was there by 11. Parking on the quayside was ample and surprisingly reasonable. Django and I enjoyed our jaunt around pretty West Bay. It isn’t a huge place but it is quite convoluted; you can see where you want to go but you have to go the long way round to get there. This was frustrating as poor Django was so desperately hot and just flagging. I decided we’d go back to the van for 20 minutes or so. I pulled all the curtains closed, open the windows and filled his bowl with water. Then we both flaked out until Seb rang to say they were here.
We spent a glorious hour on West Bay Beach, watching Grace and Ben throwing stones at each other and Django eating them (stones, not children…) We chatted a bit, though not enough I feel. There’ll be other times. Then I had to be off, back to the van, with it’s ticket near to expiration. I tried to walk cooly away, leave them with an image of serenity but it’s hard walking on shingles, when every other step is a limp…
Family are truly what life is about. If you can’t push yourself, move aside your anxieties for loved ones who are going through their own personal hell, then maybe you need to seek help. Honestly, it would’ve been far easier not to have left the house this weekend; safer to not hear the woes of others but at what cost?
By achieving this weekend I have noticed the step forward I’ve taken. I have enriched my knowledge of others by opening up to people who share my love of camping but mostly I have righted a wrong. Noush and Seb needed to see family. And I, however unwittingly, thwarted that plan and so devised this one. I am absolutely delighted that I did. Though their visit was just a tiny bit of my mini-break, it took effort and love on both sides and love should always be celebrated.
A photo full of love xxxxx