A Bridport Break – with more socks!

We went to visit friends Pam and Steve who have recently moved to Bridport, just a couple of miles inland from the Jurassic coast near the western end of Chesil Beach.  The train gets as close as Dorchester where they drove to meet us.

Bridport was once the centre of English rope making, surrounded by hemp and flax fields and having houses with 100 feet long narrow gardens which were once ropewalks.  Even the pavements are extra wide so that thinner twisted strings and cords could be made on them.  By the way, the ancient trade of cordwainer never made cord – much too obvious – he made shoes, new ones.  Cobblers just repaired shoes.

The coat of arms of the town features three hooks – a vital part in the process of twisting the separate strands of a proto-rope in one direction whilst simultaneously twisting the three strands together in the opposite direction.  The museum has demonstrations once a week during the season.

Bridport coat of arms with 3 rope twisting hooks

We stayed at the Wetherspoons, an hotel called the Greyhound with excellent rooms.  We had a room at the front, so had the extra local pleasure of enjoying the sounds of the Wednesday market stalls being erected from about 5am.  Your modern market stall is made of iron tubes which seem to fit together best when repeatedly struck with steel hammers.  Spoon’s breakfasts proved too much for us after the first morning – just too much food – so we ventured out.  Once to the Lime Tree Cafe, a space which is also home to ‘the oldest cheese shop in Dorset’ (perhaps) with 40 to 60 types of cheese always available.  Their croque madame, with its gruyere, ham and fried egg, was delicious.  On the third morning we met Pam and Steve at the newly refurbished Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute which serves breakfast from 9am in the delightful Georgian building.  Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast – lovely.

‘Spoons offered some good real ales but the most memorable beer was a canned US style IPA from Windsor and Eton Brewery called Treason IPA, not only bursting with those fragrant hops but also c.£2 for 330ml – an excellent price.  The best beers were encountered at the micropub – ‘The Pursuit of Hoppiness’ – where Meg’s Bomb from Arbor Brewery was my favourite.

steve and me in Pursuit of Hoppiness (600 x 450)

Here we are drinking something unfined and with an orange taste from a different brewery, but still in the P. of H..

The Cancer Research charity shop, visible from our hotel room, declares it once hosted a visit from Charles II on 23rd September 1651 – it was the George Inn at the time.  By the bridge at the east end of the town a gravestone-like marker tells the reader that another king dropped by for one night.  Richard III (for it was he) stayed at a house across the river on 5th November 1483 where: ‘he may have looked out of the window opposite’.


We visited the Arts Centre which had an exhibition of prints of some Matissse cut-outs.  The highlight here was grabbing the work table after children left and having a go ourselves.

Bridport arts centre matisse cutouts workshop (600 x 450)

Other notable meals out include dinner at Dorshi, (an Asian inspired restaurant on the same street as Pam and Steve – but the street has turned into a pedestrian passage by the time you reach Dorshi), and Sladers Yard at West Bay, an art gallery and lunch venue where it was possible to spend several thousands of pounds on a single wooden chair or a much more reasonable £14 on mackerel pate, salad and a beer (Durdle Dor from the Dorset Brewing Company).

West Bay is a recent name for what was once called Bridport Harbour.  When the railway got there in the 19th century the company wanted tourists to use it and felt that Harbour was less attractive than Bay.  Bridport Harbour was the port of Bridport, whereas the port in Bridport means market.  So Bridport is a market on the river Brid (or Brit) whereas Bridport port is West Bay.  Clear?



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Easter Sunday quiet stroll

It wasn’t raining, the temperature had reached a heady 8 degrees Celsius and I had an invoice to deliver a little way up the Ditchling Road.  Like Norman Lovett said when he needed to buy a light bulb, “I decided to make a day of it”.  Unlike him I did not make a flask of coffee and sandwiches.  I chose a short walk instead, avoiding the town centre and seeking out roads less used by me.  You can follow this walk on Google Maps, here.

On a bridge over the London line I heard a rasping noise, but no trains.  Looking over the parapet I spotted hi-viz man pushing a trolley complete with grind wheel.  It seemed to be skimming a tiny layer off the top of one track.


Soon after I was on teh Dyke Road beside the Booth Museum of Natural History.  Its a bit run down and sad now, I popped in to see if they had a stuffed chiff-chaff.  Mr Booth was a great shooter and collector of birds.  I found a case labelled chiff-chaff, but the contents looked sad and shrunken, and the colours of plumage seriously faded.


Could be the flitting bird in the garden – if only it would call ‘chiff chaff’, I’d know for sure.  Further up the road I discovered that The Dyke Road Tavern has closed, now being marketed as two retail units.  Clearly my search for a beer was not complete, I decided to walk on.


I went into a place called The Conservatory to look at a range of cast concrete Green Men faces.  Fancy a couple more fixed to the garden wall to join the one that’s been outside for years now.


Promising to return and buy one or two I continued to Hove station and the nearby excellent Watchmakers micropub – but it was shut for the day. 


I walked west to the Poets area of Hove to visit a Harvey’s house.  It was crowded, very crowded.  Mainly men in their 30s, nearly all with tidy haircuts.  Neat edges, some razoring thin enough to see skin above necks and ears.  Crisp partings, some gel, but very gelled beards where they occurred.  And a fair scattering of big tattoos on necks and arms.  Amongst them there were a few women, similar age, some with babies or toddlers, all dressed and made up like they were going out.  I mean not just an afternoon in the local.  They were there for the football, and it was the halftime lull.  But I’d bought a pint by the time I figured it out.  I had just enough time to drink it and exit as the TV sound came back on!


Moved on to George Street and a big Wetherspoon’s where I encountered 2 friends, and stayed on for 2 pints of Welton’s American Graffiti – a supposed citrus hopped US style pale ale, but should have been dry hopped as well.  It was the best ‘spoons had available, and I was in good company.

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Free Beer – Yesterday

Thanks to Rowena’s timely notice both Jackie and I were able to sign up online for a free pint of Brew Dog’s Punk IPA, and yesterday we called into the Brighton bar to get them.  They charge over £5 a pint for it, which is more than I would happily pay, though it’s an excellent beer replete with copious quantities of fruity American hops.

Brewdog Brighton 25.3.2018

For a long time it was available in Sainsbury’s for two or three pounds in bigger than pint bottles, but they are no longer stocked.  The canned version offers a reasonably priced alternative.  Afterwards we visited the Pump House where I had a delicious bottle of yeasty wheat (Hefe Weizen) beer from Maisel’s of Bayreuth.  Its the best alternative to  the impossible to find Hoegaarden wheat beer, but I can only find it at the Pump House.  Lucky I also like their music, staff, food and location.

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Trains and buses to visit three micropubs

I have spent far too much time creating my first Google My Map.  I don’t actually have it, Google are holding it for me on’t interweb.  But it may just be available to everyone via the link below.  There are some pictures attached to pubs and walking route, but no significant words of explanation, exposition or expansion.

I caught the train from Brighton for the speed it offers, compared with the free bus.  A sunny day so a pleasant walk towards the first bar, the Georgi Fin.  On the way I walked down Grand Avenue, which has lots of lovely mature conifers.

grand av worthing 5

I have been a Facebook friend since before it opened, following the stripping out and subsequent refitting of the bar, working to a tight budget with considerable flair.  Its named after the children of the owners.  Stayed for more halves than planned – because they were there.

Ghost’s Auriel – a light and flowery good start – Brew Studio’s Unplugged – all hazy and Citra – Gun’s Zama Zama – a lovely 6.5% IPA with mango and lychees – and finally Thornbridge’s milk stout, ENA, which was glorious.  Pottered off to a bakery on the block for sausage rolls, and trips to 4 charity shops seeking Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.  I’ve read them all, but then given to charity shops.  Now I want to read them again, so I’m back in charity shops – none in this area though.

A short wait for the 700 bus to Worthing central seafront area and the tiny Anchored at Worthing.

anchored at worthing

Just a half here, partly because there was nothing that really caught my eye – except the same Brew Studio beer I’d just had – and mainly because the bar was rammed with rugby fans there to watch an important game just as soon as the owner had got the streaming download thingy working right.  No seats and too much rugby, I went in search of Jack Reacher again, and found three in the third shop I tried.  Went to the seafront and boarded another 700, to Shoreham this time.

The Old Star ale and cider house is a regular haunt of mine, and the Burning Sky Aurora is a regular there too.  I had a half.  At this point my notebook says ‘and another half’, but I cannot decide if it was another Aurora, or something different that I’d forgotten by the time I was on the last 700 of the day heading back to Brighton.  Must be the beer!

But I did take a picture from the top deck, front seat, of the bus.  Its a bit of Shoreham harbour.  Please try the My Maps link below, and explore it.  Not sure it is technology worth pursuing – if you know me you could email your thoughts, or try commenting here.

shoreham harbour 2

Link to a piece of map for this blog.

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A big crane and socks like Prince Charles wears.

Last week I happened to be in the Pump House, in Brighton Place, or perhaps Market Street, when a man in hi-viz entered and spoke to the barmaid.  He was offering advance notice of a big crane coming onto the new Lanes development site nearby.  So I went down this morning at about 8am to see it.  The first tower section was being lowered into the foundation pit, to be bolted to a huge cast block of concrete poured a while ago, which in turn is part of four drilled and cast re-inforced concrete piles each 20 metres deep.  The guy who told me this also added that the concrete foundation will be left in place when the crane goes – that did not surprise me.

first section going in (450 x 600)

Later another lorry reversed down past the Pump House (which was still shut) and a second tower piece was added, followed by  the rotating platform.

securing the pivot (450 x 600)

The biggest wagon – an articulated lorry with rear wheel steering – brought the fist two part of the jib.  Here is the second approaching the guys who will bolt it on.

penultimate jib section approaches (450 x 600)

It was now noon and I had two pints of Harveys before heading home, past a gentlemen’s outfitter where I bought socks last week. The brand is Corgi and they are by Royal Appointment not to the Queen but her eldest.  They (the socks) are rather lovely.

socks - me and Prince Chas (600 x 450)

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Westbourne Avenue, Hull – Grandma’s Lawn

As a young lad I had a camera.  It was almost a cube in shape and it had three controls on its bakelite body – a shutter control to take the picture, a knurled knob to wind on the film and a lever to open the body to remove/install a roll of film.  The film was called 126 and had negatives two inches square.  It was not a sophisticated piece of kit.

At my grandmother’s house I took a picture of my teddy bear (Ted was his name, and still is).  A few months ago I found a print of Ted, sitting on Grandma’s Lawn.

Grandma's lawn (1956 x 668)

I use upper case for the location simply because, when I found the picture, that was how I described it to myself.  My mother’s mother was never grandma, but always Nan.  But the track by Caravan – public schoolboys from Canterbury – was Grandma’s lawn.  Bought the album in ’68 or ’69 when a student in Norwich, having seen them live at a small club in the town.  Here is the cover, do seek out the music.


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Rare beer and rarer sunshine.

On Sunday 11th March 2018 I drank the last of three bottles of Thomas Hardy ale gifted to us by friends last year.  It used to be marketed as England’s strongest beer, but I doubt it could hold that title in these days of adventurous micro brewers.  Still, 11.7% alcohol is high.  The label claimed it was bottle conditioned, but the total absence of sediment and fizz suggested there had been no secondary fermentation.

last Hardy Ale - drank 11th Mar18 (450 x 600)

The resulting flat black liquid still tasted interesting.  I was sitting in the bay window sipping it when the sun came out from behind the clouds we have been under for weeks, which made the experience extra special.

sunny spell 11th march18 (387 x 600)

Sadly neither the beer nor the sunshine lasted long.

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