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Family Outings…….Old Style :)

22 Jun

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Those of you who read my last blog post about the Hardy Monument will remember that I reminisced a little in that post about my days as a child in Dorset. Well today I thought we would continue in that vein and that I would share a picture or two with you 🙂 ! This is the childhood of The Dorset Rambler…….well a little bit of it 🙂 !

If you didn’t read my previous post, there is a link to it here.

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Nine of us picnic at the roadside – how did we all fit in that van!

As I said in my earlier blog entry, we had no car when I was a child and we couldn’t afford to bus everywhere……can you hear the violins 🙂 ! So walking was something that was just part of everyday life, and we walked miles to the beach or to the Purbeck Hills or wherever, sometimes with aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents; in fact the whole wider family.

But for two weeks of the year, during my father’s annual holiday (he only got two weeks off each year), my uncle would offer us the use of his old Morris 10 and we would drive for miles at what today seems like a walking pace as it was like most cars of the day, painfully slow! But then, there were quite a lot of us packed into it! On the odd year when for some reason my uncle couldn’t lend us his car, another uncle would lend us his even older, and even slower, van.

It is this van that you see in the picture above, and my, was that an interesting holiday! To start with, there were even more of us packed in there…….nine of us to be exact, which included my parents, grandparents and brothers. Us two younger boys sat in the luggage compartment at the back because of course it was only a 4/5 seater van. Oh, and the van couldn’t climb hills so for anything greater than a 10% incline, some of us would have to get out and walk up, climbing on board again when we, and the van, reached the top 🙂 !

Smaller hills were less of a problem but even then it wasn’t straight forward! I well remember the back of the van flying open as we struggled up one hill and although my brother and I managed to avoid falling out, the same can’t be said of our picnic which went rolling down the hill. Naturally, we managed to round it all up again 🙂 !

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Sausages! Picnicking beside the old Morris 10.

Of course, the picnic was not just any picnic! No, this was a full blown meal of sausages, eggs, bacon etc etc cooked on a primus stove beside the road. For seats, there was either the grass verge or the car seats that could be removed. We had no water carrier so in order to have a cup of tea, we would simply knock on the door of a house and ask if they would mind filling the kettle for us. Everyone was very willing to help in those days.

We had a funny experience one day……well most days really…..but on this particular evening, we needed petrol urgently but didn’t know where the nearest garage was. So we flagged down a passing bubble car to ask the driver for directions and he promised to lead us to a petrol station that would be open. The problem was that the old Morris 10 couldn’t keep up with him and he got further and further ahead of us until we could barely make out his rear lights as he disappeared into the distance. Fortunately it turned out ok, but the event reminded me of the Bubble Car Song (Beep Beep)……and if you are not old enough to remember that, you must Google it 🙂 !

Unlike today, there was no form of entertainment in the car or van so we made our own entertainment by singing at the top of our voices as we drove. I have very happy memories of our sing songs, especially late at night as we were on our way back. Usually there would be a quick stop at a pub for a drink, hopefully one with a playground for us youngsters, and then very often the day would finish with a midnight drive along the Bournemouth sea front to look at the illuminations, and maybe even a paddle in the sea by moonlight! Of course part of the fun for the young Dorset Rambler was staying up late as we would often not be home till the early hours!

Ah, happy days!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

 

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Winspit Waves

1 Jun

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Continuing our theme of introducing blur and movement into photos to create a different effect, today we are visiting one of the coastal quarries that line the Dorset coast. This is the old, disused quarry of Winspit.

Winspit

The Angry Sea

Winspit Waves

Winspit sits just to the east of St Aldhelm’s Head but is still not very well protected from the South Westerly winds. Often, these whip up some good sized waves that crash violently onto the rocky shoreline, throwing spray everywhere. This was just such a day and I really wanted to capture the movement of the waves as they drove in towards the impenetrable rocks. I wanted somehow to capture the sheer force and mood of the stormy sea, so I decided to introduce a bit of blur into the shot to bring out the multi-directional wave movement as it bounced backwards and sideways from the rocks, meeting incoming waves head on in the process.

When I stand on these rocky ledges in these sorts of conditions, I can’t help but think about the quarry workers who shifted massive blocks of stone using the simplest of equipment. Sledges would be used to bring the rocks to the edge of the ledge and then a simple wooden derrick would hoist those stones and lower them into waiting boats that would then transport them farther out to sea using oar power only, to transfer them into larger vessels that would carry the rock either to Swanage or overseas. I think the skill of the quarrymen, especially those in the boats, is legendary!

These coastal quarries are amazing places and I will perhaps use that as a theme in the future because they deserve more space than I have allowed here. For now though, stand on the ledge with me, feel the wind and the spray, smell the sea, and hear the noise of waves crashing on rock! This is what I have tried to capture – I hope I have succeeded!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Happy Christmas

24 Dec

The Cottage Window

 

A Very Happy Christmas to you all. May you have a joyful and peaceful festive season and every blessing for the new year.

This picture was taken in a small Dorset village and the lovely nativity scene was in the window of a beautiful thatched cottage. It was an idyllic scene.

Looking for the Decoy

2 Dec

Recently I have spent some time exploring Wareham Forest. Its not an area I have walked extensively because I thought it was mainly coniferous woodlands which are not as interesting as mixed woodlands. However, I was surprised at how much open heathland there was, and one particular heath that grabbed my attention was Decoy Heath.

Now anyone from Dorset will probably know that in wartime, fires were lit on remote Dorset heaths to lure enemy aircraft away from the towns and munition works, acting as a decoy for their bombs. However, that is not where Decoy Heath gets its name. In fact, it gets its name from ducks.

Back in the day, ducks were trapped for food and feathers and in order to do this, new ponds were created or existing ponds altered in order to attract ducks and draw them into the traps. These ponds were known as decoy ponds and there were in fact two on Decoy Heath, hence its name.

Decoy Heath

Decoy Heath with the Old Decoy Pond

I visited one day this week on a beautifully sunny day and walked around the larger, and more obvious, pond. This is known as Old Decoy Pond but is not technically a ‘decoy pond’ in the accepted sense as its shape is irregular and there is no evidence of its being used to actually trap ducks. It is in fact thought to have been used to attract ducks to the general area and its size would have facilitated this.

The second and smaller pond where the actual trapping took place is known as Decoy Pond and is much less obvious, being smaller and somewhat hidden amongst trees and marshy land to the south of the larger pond. I returned on another very misty day to search that one out. This smaller pond, together with its associated but now derelict decoy man’s overnight shelter, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument as there are few remaining in this country in any recognisable state.

Decoy Pond

The way through marshy land

Just reaching the old overnight shelter was like something out of the Hound of the Baskervilles, with mist and marshy land all around making it difficult to reach the old shelter. The simple single roomed building with one door, one small window and a corner fire place was once probably thatched but the roof has long since disappeared. Only the remnant of the walls remain standing. The stream that feeds the decoy pond circles round three sides of the cottage, almost like the moat of a castle and it is hard to know where it is safe to tread.

Decoy Pond

The decoy man’s overnight shelter

It was fascinating finding this old relic especially on a day which seemed ideally suited to emphasise the mystery of the place. It was built in 1724 by the Drax family of Charborough Park, together with the pond and nearby Decoy House (now demolished) which was where the decoy man lived. It was used for over 100 years until 1856 when shooting rights were granted over the surrounding land, creating too much disturbance to make duck trapping viable.

So what about the pond itself? Well unfortunately the whole area was so marshy that it was impossible to walk farther in than the old shelter. The pond’s shape is still visible on the overhead satellite view but this appears to indicate that it has become considerably overgrown with reeds etc so that clear water is not now visible. However, it is still waterlogged and in better condition than most – it is in fact one of only two remaining in Dorset.

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Satellite view showing the pentagonal pond in the trees

I was interested to read how decoy ponds were used. The practice dates back to medieval times in more simple forms but the more complex design seen here was introduced from Holland in the 17th century. Most were star shaped, a main pond with tapering ditches known as pipes running in a curved shape outwards, with netting over the top. In the picture above, the remnants of some of these ‘pipes’ can be seen stretching out from the pentagonal shaped pond.

It was down these ‘pipes’ that ducks would be lured by either using strategically placed food or by using dogs. The latter method relied on the ducks’ natural inclination to follow predators such as foxes to keep them in sight – thus the dog mimicking a predator led the ducks up the pipe. Carefully placed screens would be used to hide the dog but allow sufficient glimpses to maintain the ducks’ interest. When they reached the point of the pipe, they would be captured by the decoy men and have their necks wrung.

The images below give an idea of how the decoy ponds were used. They are by Sir Ralph Frankland-Payne-Gallwey, 3rd Baronet (1848-1916) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from his book ‘The book of duck decoys, their construction, management, and history (1886)’.

decoy_5_pipe

decoy_in_action

It has been fascinating exploring this little corner of Dorset and the old custom of duck decoying. I am sure there is much more to learn but I hope you have enjoyed this little taster.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Beside the Weir

20 Aug

This poem was inspired by an evening walk along the banks of the River Stour. The river flows gently and peacefully above and below the weir that sits beside the old mill, but for just a brief interlude it becomes a raging torrent. This is what I wrote as I sat beside the weir.

Beside the Weir

Beside the Weir

Calm and tranquil flows the stream,
Peace personified, as in a dream,
Gentle waters seem crystal clear,
Until it reaches the ancient weir.

Suddenly that peaceful flow,
Becomes a torrent, rushing below,
Thunderous sounds of crashing flood,
Whipped up white, in angry mood.

Beyond the weir it slows its pace,
Once more flowing with amazing grace,
Peace restored, it rolls lazily on,
Seeming no rush for it to be gone.

That interlude of power and rush,
Only short lived, one quick push,
Breaks up the peace of my waterside walk,
Interrupting my quiet thoughts.

And yet there is wonder in that short space,
As water rushes down as if in a race,
The effect on me made me want to be near,
And I returned again and sat by the weir.

(Copyright The Dorset Rambler)

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

What are your favourite sounds?

23 May

The Dorset Rambler

Since I am a photographer you might think I am a visual person, and I am.  But I am also very much an audio person and I love sounds, not only music but all sounds – well, perhaps not literally all ;)!!  Many years ago I listed my favourite sounds so I thought I would share some of them with you.

The sound of surf washing over shingle

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This is such a beautiful relaxing sound, especially at the end of a long walk as the evening light settles over the coast and everyone has gone home – the time when in the words of the poet, ‘All is left to darkness and to me’.  Sitting in the solitude on one of Dorset’s shingle beaches with the gently washing surf is special.

The sound of the skylark singing on a warm summer day

To me, this is a quintessentially Dorset sound…

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Happy Christmas Everyone!

25 Dec

On a Snowy Hillside

Not taken this year as we have no snow! This is a lovely snowy hillside near Milton Abbas.

A Very Happy Christmas to you all from your friend The Dorset Rambler!

I HAVE NOW SET UP A FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE DORSET RAMBLER AND THERE IS A LINK ABOVE. THIS IS TO BRING TOGETHER MY THREE PASSIONS OF DORSET, WALKING/THE OUTDOORS, AND PHOTOGRAPHY. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THESE OR YOU ENJOY MY BLOG, PLEASE DO ‘LIKE’ MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.