A literary walk, a GPS with a bad attitude, and more!

17 Apr

No, I didn’t read a book as I walked ;)!  I did a long walk around Thomas Hardy country – although in reality the whole of Dorset is Hardy country because in many ways it was he who popularised Dorset through his writings, both poetry and prose.  A lot of people don’t realize that our Thomas was first and foremost a poet before he ever got into novels.  And if there is anyone reading this who hasn’t yet experienced a Thomas Hardy novel, I can recommend it – but don’t read it quickly as it will be very descriptive of Dorset and Dorset life.  I think my personal favourites are the book ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, and the poem ‘The Darkling Thrush’!

Back to the walk!  It took in Hardy’s Cottage in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester (or should I say Casterbridge!) – this is where he was born and where he wrote his first literary gems.  The cottage, now owned by the National Trust, is in Puddletown Forest and is open to the public.  Nearby is Stinsford Church where Hardy’s heart is buried (his ashes are interred at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey), and alongside him are other members of the Hardy family.  Also in the same churchyard are the graves of Cecil Day Lewis, the poet laureate, and his wife.  He did not live in the area but was a great admirer of Hardy and wanted to be buried as near to him as possible.

Image

Stinsford Church

Image

The Hardy graves

Image

Cecil Day Lewis was a big admirer of Thomas Hardy

The early part of this walk is really lovely, taking in not only Hardy’s Cottage and Stinsford Church but also the causeway that runs beside one of the River Frome tributaries.  It is a very picturesque area.

Image

The walk along the causeway

Sadly, not all of the walk is quite so easy to negotiate!  There was one footpath that I had planned to walk that crossed the River Frome itself but when I got there, both the footpath and the bridge were conspicuous by their absence and the gate leading to the footpath was locked.  This meant a detour back onto the road in order to get round the obstacle.  I am not sure why the land owner has ‘closed’ the footpath (which is still shown as a right of way on the OS map) although, to give him the benefit of doubt, I guess it is possible that the bridge might have just collapsed!

Because of poor signage and moved footpaths I had some problems route finding.  Now I have always been a map and compass kind of man but recently I have acquired a GPS which I thought would answer all my needs.  Unfortunately however, I managed to get one with a bad attitude!!  It bleeps at me beautifully when I am on the right path (and when I don’t need it to) but when I go wrong for any reason it just seems to go to sleep!!  At the time that I think it should be waving at me and shouting, ‘Excuse me pal, you are going the wrong way’, it just seems to say to itself, ‘Oh dear the old codger’s gone wrong again – he’ll realise it sooner or later and in the meantime I’ll have a little doze’!

I passed another delightful little church on this route, one that I’ve not visited before, and while I was there the previous Rector came in and he had some interesting stories to tell.  He told me about the couples who lived on either side of the church.  The wife on one side died and the husband on the other side died and later the widow and the widower became friendly and ultimately were married in the church that separated their two houses!  I thought that was lovely!  He pointed out the rectory which is a very substantial property which was turned into a school but is now in private ownership.  It seems hard to imagine a church minister living in such opulent surroundings!

Image

A lovely Dorset church

The other thing he told me about was the thatched cottage behind the church which has recently been sold by the elderly villager who owned it.  She was a villager in every sense of the word, very much involved in the local community, but the new owners as so often tends to be the case, are from London and will be using it as a second home.  The cost of this second home was apparently one million pounds!  It highlights yet again the modern trend whereby the heart goes out of village life as villages become more and more just ghost villages!

Image

A million pounds holiday home

Often when I walk, I come across strange signs!  Like the one below – who was Dick I wonder?  He sounds like a highwayman who robs banks ;)!

Image

Even more bizarre are the signs below!  These six different, and rather graphic, signs were all within the space of just a quarter of a mile or so.  Clearly they didn’t want people to become bored with seeing the same sign!  Ever feel unwanted!!

Image

Ever feel unwanted??

At the end of this walk, I had another interesting conversation, this time with a farmer!  I was walking across his field when he opened his tractor door and called me over – I must have a guilty conscience because my first thought was, ‘What have I done wrong?’ ;)!  But he said to me, ‘Can I shake your hand?  You are the first person today who has known where they were going!  I’ve been in the field all day and have had walkers wandering all over the place, the deer stalker is upset because they’ve scared the deer away, and I’ve been asked numerous times where the footpath is!’  So I shook his hand!  You see, bad attitude GPS or not, I do usually know where I am going :)!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler!

The Dorset Rambler

85 Responses to “A literary walk, a GPS with a bad attitude, and more!”

  1. alessandro ciapanna April 17, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    lol! quicksand… :)

    • thedorsetrambler April 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Ha ha, yes apparently so :) A strange phenomenon in the middle of Dorset!

  2. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife April 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    great widow/widower story, and lovely pics.

  3. Kathryn McCullough April 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Gotta love a post where modern technology run-amuck and literary history cross paths. And congrats on Freshly Pressed!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

  4. susielindau April 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    It looks like a beautiful area! Those signs cracked me up!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  5. Constance V. Walden April 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    I like the bottom photos of the warning signs. They really let you know you’re not wanted. Connie

    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

  6. Mikalee Byerman April 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    I SO need a “Danger — Quick Sand” sign for my front lawn. That would be AWESOME!
    ;)

  7. edebock April 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Delightful!

  8. notesfromrumbleycottage April 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I love what you can find when you go off the designated path. Congrats on being pressed.

  9. puddlewonderfullife April 17, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    I love Hardy’s novels – so I really enjoyed your pictures of his countryside!

  10. Eagle-Eyed Editor April 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Love these photos and the Thomas Hardy info. I didn’t know Cecil Day Lewis liked Hardy so much — interesting to learn that. My GPS is old and tends to boss me around, but I don’t mind — it gets me to where I need to be!

    • thedorsetrambler April 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      I hadn’t realised that was why Cecil Day Lewis was buried nearby, but apparently so :)

      • Eagle-Eyed Editor April 18, 2012 at 11:15 am #

        It’s such a coincidence that you wrote about Thomas Hardy. I did a post yesterday on another book, another blogger replied in the comments section and we ended up getting into a discussion of Thomas Hardy.

  11. allcancerfightingfoods April 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    There’s something mesmerizing about old parks. That picture of the old bridge is really good and thought-provoking!

  12. socialbridge April 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Hi, thanks for an absolutely captivating post. I adore Thomas Hardy’s work and this felt like being brought right into the very heart of his place. I’m more determined than ever now to visit when next over from Ireland. You’ve inspired me!

  13. meganchapple April 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Loved the signs! Looks like a fence near me that stops people climbing into the abandoned gravel pits

  14. Beki Harris April 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    I love your story and like all good stories it comes full circle. It cracked me up.

  15. Hadas April 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    re signs: I have once seen one about a parking place for woman (3 places;-)
    not politically correct, yet funny – also comfortable, come to think of this..

    I liked the story and the attitude. These are good experiences.

  16. Tinkerbell April 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    I love poetry, so I’m so happy that you said Thomas Hardy was first and foremost a poet. Gives me encouragement as a poet (:
    It’s ironic this whole post is about a walk in a graveyard though!
    Interesting post (:

  17. Grateful Fairy April 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, thank you! Love the pics and the stories especially the one of the couple who lived next the rectory

  18. waltersdaughter April 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Informative, entertaining and well illustrated – thank you!
    The Darkling Thrush is my favourite poem :)

  19. kylesimmons1991 April 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Sounds like a rather intriguing place to me haha. I would have been tempted to hop the fence and see what was really going on back there!

  20. strawberriesandoranges April 17, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    I love the way you described the pictures. Very interesting!! :)

  21. spdk1 April 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    That spot with all the wrning signs sure looks safe :P

  22. Chark April 18, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    I too am a Hardy fan and just recently read Far From the Madding Crowd and loved it – long descriptions and all! I would really like to do this literary walk that you have so nicely documented here.

  23. xuantian April 18, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Wow. Nice place, amazing photos. I’ve tried to take good photos of the grave yard when I took a trip in St. Augustine, FL. but didn’t make it. That’s kinda sad. I’ve enjoyed your post and the wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing! :)

  24. unsouthernbelle April 18, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I could imagine taking the walk with you.

  25. The Retiring Sort April 18, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    What a great post – congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  26. toneddownandvintage April 18, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    Those signs look like they just pop up when some eyes wander that way. LOL, I love them. Thanks for reminding me that I should find a Hardy book in the stores and read his poetry. :)

  27. Erin April 18, 2012 at 1:38 am #

    The pictures are wonderful. I had a little laugh at the quicksand sign. I did not know quicksand was a problem in Dorset County.

  28. Claudia April 18, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    Hahaha, love the danger signs. I haven’t read “Far from the Maddening Crowd” yet, but it’s on my list.

    Nice post!

  29. awalkinglife April 18, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Wonderful photographs and beautiful writing. You are so lucky to live in such an area, beauty, history, it has it all.

  30. Grumpa Joe April 18, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    When the GPS fails to lead the way we call it “dead reckoning.”

  31. trinachka April 18, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Reblogged this on Under an Artichoke and commented:
    Someday I’d like to amble along England’s network of walking trails myself. The notion of walking from one end of the isle, from town to village and through rolling beautiful countryside, to the other end is enchanting.

  32. engchick23 April 18, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    I had no idea Dorchester was the basis for Casterbridge! “The Mayor of Casterbridge” has been one of my favorite stories since high school!

    What a wonderful day trip through the churchyards. It looks like a lovely place to wander and chat with the locals like you did, despite that dratted GPS! I love that Hardy is spoken of as “our Thomas” in Dorset; it makes him seem more personable and real.

    Thanks so much for sharing about your journey! :D

  33. Zen and Genki April 18, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Really, really enjoyed this! Wonderful images and some great writing to go with- one of my favourite things when the two happen together :)

  34. sandraconner April 18, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    What a delightful article! I enjoyed your writing and your photos. I guess I’m especially interested in English villages and countrysides because I am such a huge fan of Dora Saint and her Miss Read novels. I read them voraciously — again and again — and again. For me, they are like the English version of “The Andy Griffith Show” here in the states – homey stories of people who live quiet, simple lives in small villages but who love in a very large and encompassing way. Anyway, I enjoyed the ramble with you thoroughly. And although I have been an English teacher most of my life, I have read very little by Thomas Hardy. But you have peaked my interest now, and when I go to the library tomorrow, I will check him out more thoroughly.

    I especially related to the story of the widow and widower who lived on either side of the church and eventually married in that church. I am an ordained minister, and several years ago, my neighbor on one side lost his wife. My neighbor on the other side lost her husband the following year. They began courting, and by the next year, they asked me to perform their marriage ceremony. So although it took place in their own backyard (next door to mine), it was virtually the same kind of experience.

    Thank you for sharing so much, and congratulations of being “Freshly Pressed.” I’ll be back.
    The Lord make His face to shine on you today!
    Sandra

  35. thesweetkitten April 18, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    What a great idea! Where did you find all the information about Thomas Hardy? We do something similar on our blog, with music and movies :-)

    • thedorsetrambler April 18, 2012 at 9:17 am #

      Well, I am Dorset born and bred so I have acquired knowledge along the way but I also have quite a few books on Dorset. And there is a lot on the web too. Thanks for your comment :)

  36. chriswormald April 18, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    Nice page! Hardy is a favourite of mine too. I really like “The Woodlanders” for its evocation of the life of a very rural community. The garden at the Higher Bockhampton cottage will be stunning in a few months.

    Keep strolling and writing. regards Chris

  37. itssrijana April 18, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    sings are so creative!lol

  38. Dr. Rohit Gour April 18, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    A wonderful article providing a fresh impetus to study Hardy. Thanks.

  39. mua ban oto April 18, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I like your photos, it so beautiful.
    Thanks!

  40. Saudi Prices Blog April 18, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    What a great post I like your photos, it so beautiful.
    Thanks!

  41. sultanhaider April 18, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    great story I really loved poetry.
    ship management

  42. _almost_ romanian. photography April 18, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    very nice :) . 10+

  43. esthermo April 18, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    haha. thanks for sharing. didn’t know that hardy wrote poetry.

  44. jenniesisler April 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed and bringing this lovely part of England to New England (Massachusetts to be precise). Although I’m a bit disturbed by the deep excavation and quicksand signs being in such close proximity to each other;)I don’t think the farmers around here would be as gracious if they saw someone walking on their land. Sounds like a lovely place!

  45. seftonoxford April 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I really enjoyed your blog. I too have GPS issues TRUST. It seems to be convient but not always accurate. Stay with your map and compass. Your pictures are really good.

  46. aFrankAngle April 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Thanks for the photos and humor!

  47. Sarah D. April 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Charming story! I love Thomas Hardy. I recently reread “The Return of the Native,” and it was such a pleasure to sink into his rich descriptions of landscapes and people. You’ve whetted my appetite for more. The walk sounds lovely. Your GPS has a bad attitude, but it seems you don’t!

  48. Money and Business Plan April 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I like this post, but this place makes me feel chills. hehehhe… Keep going write your experience!

  49. Grace B. April 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. It brought me back to my stay in the Lake District… Paying homage to Wordsworth in Grasmere and walking through Dove Cottage was certainly a memorable experience. Thanks for sharing!

  50. Urban Diva April 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Your photos are just incredible…. why the hell can’t I take photos like these??? hahahah.
    I feel the need to peruse your other posts now… so I can get lost in a daydream about these beautiful surroundings… ;)

    • thedorsetrambler April 18, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      Thank you so much – I hope you enjoy browsing :)

      • Urban Diva April 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

        Oh.My.God. The photos just get better and better as I go. Clearly, I need to go back across the “pond” (Altantic) and see this place. Can’t wait for more posts and photos!

  51. Nicole April 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Gorgeous photos!

  52. Katie Raspberry April 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Haha! Those signs are seriously hilarious!

    Katie

    http://katieraspberry.wordpress.com/

  53. pinkbriefcase April 18, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Thomas Hardy novels are my all time favorite, but I haven’t read any of his poetry — now I’m getting excited to dig back into his work. Thanks for this — the photos and storytelling are beautifully done.

  54. RemarkablyRenee April 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    I find it very funny that excavation is happening on a cliff with quicksand. Oh you protective property-owners you. Absolutely gorgeous pictures by the way! Your descriptions are so vivid I can see myself there! You have a great attitude about happenings that would drive my mum (and most likely me) absolutely bonkers! Thanks for sharing!

  55. lijiujiu April 19, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    I like Thomas Hardy novels too.
    This is really a good work. I appreciate your efforts behind that. Thanks for sharing!

  56. Rustic Recluse April 19, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Very nice pictures, I like the one of the Church best. The signs are pretty cool – couldn’t feel more jeopardised than looking at 6 Danger Signs at once. ;)

  57. portable toilets April 19, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Lovely little place. I’d love to be living in that house with the thatched roof :)

  58. rizkyilhamsyah April 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Reblogged this on kenjikurosawa.

  59. zehir26 April 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Such a nice and nearly a gothic place.Good work and want to see night photographs :))

  60. da men magazine April 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    good photos

  61. ashee April 27, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    nice………….
    asheeee.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 217 other followers

%d bloggers like this: