Those days in Dorset merged together in a glorious melange of memories, sites, sounds and experiences. Where to start? Where to stop? Dorset ice cream in a park, fish and chips on the river walk. Did I mention that I visited the Keep military museum? Excellent experience – so much history that isn’t always thought about in a place you’d hardly expect it to be. Did I discuss going to Weymouth? No, I doubt that.

I lasted all of an hour in Weymouth. I left on that Sunday morning, £4.50 return. Did I say I lasted an hour? No, not quite that long! I arrived in Weymouth and was quickly overwhelmed by the stench of vomit, stale piss and chip shops. Oh well, I came, I might as well see it. I walked to the strand. There was a hideous cacophony of white bodies shrieking, flocking together near chips and any other cheap, easy food. No, not seagulls – Essex grockles. Ghastly, I tell you! Poorly behaved children and even more poorly behaved parents. Eek! I’m off, mates. I can’t be bothered with this! Enough chavs for this go!

What next? Swanage. Yes, Swanage was far more civilised. Families with young children, dogs on leads. It was crowded but overwhelmingly civilised. What’s that structure over there, from the pier? It looks out of place in the best, most British way possible. A bell tower, innit? Wellington’s, originally of London pedigree. It was located in the middle of a busy road and became a safety hazard. Sold off to a Swanage captain to use as ballast it, instead, was re-built.

So, where am I? Where was I? Bugger verb tenses, they only lead to confusion. Breakfast at the B&B. Yes, that’s it. Glorious, glorious English breakfast! The owner cooks it on order for each guess – no additional charge! Bacon, egg, sausage, beans, toast and grilled tomatoes. It was so civilised with visiting Britons – an Ulsterwoman, a few Scots and English tourists from Oxon, Berks, Wilts and Essex – even that nice elderly Greek man who has spent decades in Britain. What’s that, what cretinism unfolds before my eyes? Toast and bloody cereal? Only toast and bloody cereal? People go to England and willingly forego the glorious full English breakfast? What is wrong with them? Don’t they know that the only people who have turned breakfast into an even higher art form are the Jocks? Woggish cacophony pours forth – they’re Spaniards. Typical, can’t expect anything else out of them. Given the choice between eating Spanish food for the rest of my life or plundering Dougal’s or Abigail’s kibbles I might well go for the kibbles!

Train of thought lost again, typical these days. I’m a hopeless mess except when I’m not. Glorious days under the Dorset skies. I’m tanned now, at least by my standards. The fresh air and sunshine have seemingly been a boon. My jaws are fully unclenched for the first time in months. Hours followed each other outside; foraging for wild berries in the woods, finding new footpaths. Sitting for hours in an English church.

Oh, where did time go? It’s 1 PM. I need to get going. Just over an hour until my train leaves Dorchester. Get on with it, mate. I pick up my luggage. I walk out the door of St George’s Church sadly, looking over my shoulder one more time. The train is punctual. At 2:13 the train pulls out of Dorchester South. I found a seat with enough room around me to safely keep my luggage with no need to cram it above me. I have to sit backwards. Dorchester disappears in the distance. Then Moreton disappears, then Wool disappears. All these towns and cities gone without so much as a minute’s hesitation. Wareham, Hamworthy… Cities disappear, Poole, Bournemouth, gone in the flash of an eye. Winchester, Woking… Through Clapham Junction without hesitation. “The next station is London Waterloo. This train ends there”. So I’m back in London, where all of this began.

I look at my watch – hours to go. I walk with my bags to Westminster. The sun is blazing, I don’t care. I sit on a bench across from Parliament and read Churchill. Why not? I wait until a reasonable hour, then I walk around Parliament once and return to Waterloo Station. Mine was a combined ticket, train and underground. Zone 1, London Euston. I make it in good time – the Northern Line had good service. I arrived at Euston far too early. Not much to do there, all I can do is wait.

Finally, the Caledonian Sleeper is ready for boarding. Change at Edinburgh-Waverly at 3:50, arrive in Fort William at 9:55. I fall asleep early. We stop. Crewe. Oh, okay. We’re in northern England. I go back to sleep. An hour and a half later, we’re still in Crewe. At last, we start moving again. I’m sore and stiff at this point. I only had a standard seat, not a bunk. I wake up again. The hills are higher, the landscape is covered in mist. Surely I’m in Scotland now. We stop – Carlisle. We arrived three hours late at Edinburgh Waverly. Passengers to Fort William can’t find their coach. It’s been delayed. We wait around, finally we can leave. We travel through the Central Belt, through Glasgow, into the Highlands. We arrive at last – over 4 hours late. The Highlands are stunning, but my heart’s in Dorset.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

13 thoughts on “Blur”

  1. Them’s towns not cities. In the UK you have to have a Cathedral to be a city. For the benefit of other readers, in the USA you only have to have a Post Office to be able to qualify as a city. In fact you cannot get a P.O. without incorporating as a city first! In Texas there is a truck stop that is a ‘City’ it is on the merxico road, so then they can have a pot office so the international truckers can get their mail!
    I live in the ‘city’ of Everson, all 3000 people! (Think large village)
    Sounds like you are having a good trip C. Enjoy yourself.

  2. Sorry about the spelling mistakes, its about 95 here, bloody hot. White man’s grave territory at the moment.

  3. CO: Not entirely. In Scotland there is no historical connexion between having a cathedral and being a city. Your point about needing to be a city to have a post office in the US is not quite correct. There are numerous “unincorporated areas” and “census designated places” with a post office that lack city designation. My mum lives in one. The county to her south has only one incorporated city yet every village, hamlet and hovel has a post office.

    My apology for the sloppy wording. After 24 hours of travel I was exhausted and made a few errors. Another long day today. An hour to Mallaig and then 5 hours to Glasgow.

  4. Well, Christopher! Your blur does you credit. A very atmospheric report. Feel the history, smell the chips. Btw I doubt the Weymouth grockles came from Essex. They go to Sarfend and Clacton innit? More likely to be from Brum and Coventry. I think I have mentioned before that the Sleeper contravenes the Trade Descriptions Act, a gross and very uncomfortable misnomer.

  5. CO, the Danes are similarly unable to deal with city vs. town. But that’s because Danish has only one word, by. I’ve given up explaining it. Just as I’ve given up my attempts to justify driving on the left. They just don’t get it.

  6. Janus: A fair number were from Essex. Some spoke Brummie, Black County, West Midlands but many also spoke in a distinctly Essex way. From whence they came and wither they shall return, they were almost all chavs. The Sleeper offers three classes. First class, a private berth with shower, etc. A second class berth which comes with two beds. It can be booked for two mates or a couple travelling together, or not. Then they offered a simple, third class seat. I would normally take first class but finances have been tighter than in the past and when I could reserve my place, prices went up from £150 to £250 for a first class berth.

    Danish is a delightfully straightforward language in most ways. As are Swedish and Norwegian, for that matter. Impossible to pronounce — even Viking-type chum, who rather enjoys obliging me to pronounce difficult Danish place names, admits that he can’t always pronounce Danish correctly, but generally to-the-point and straightforward. The problem is that it is difficult to be highly specific at times as Danish lacks the words, thus the concepts are more difficult to explain and understand.

  7. “……I lasted all of an hour in Weymouth. I left on that Sunday morning, £4.50 return. Did I say I lasted an hour? No, not quite that long! I arrived in Weymouth and was quickly overwhelmed by the stench of vomit, stale piss and chip shops. Oh well, I came, I might as well see it. I walked to the strand. There was a hideous cacophony of white bodies shrieking, flocking together near chips and any other cheap, easy food. No, not seagulls – Essex grockles. Ghastly, I tell you! Poorly behaved children and even more poorly behaved parents. Eek! I’m off, mates. I can’t be bothered with this! Enough chavs for this go!…..

    A pity about this. In the ’50s when I lived in Weymouth it was quite a pleasant place. Wooden rowing boats for hire on the beach, motor boat trips from the same beach to Portland Harbour to look at the warships or to Lulworth Cove. You could also take a trip on a paddle steamer to Lulworth and points east (Lulworth, Swanage and Bournmouth) A few years later I spent again some time there whilst based at Portland in the RFA. The town had then started to slip a bit but still had great pubs owned by breweries, Devenish, Eldridge Pope and Groves. The Tories ruined all of that by making breweries divest themselves of many of their tied houses so that now what had been conservative and traditional became modern and tacky.
    As for the chavs and their offspring, I know what you mean. Unfortunately they’re everywhere. When campaigning for Brexit I sometimes looked at these people and wondered if it was worth campaigning. They deserve everything they’re going to get, not a very charitable view I know, but there it is.

    As for travelling to Edinburgh. In early 1965 I’d just completed my apprenticeship with the Lyle Shipping Company, a Glagow tramp ship outfit ( wall to wall weegies with a few exceptions, renegade Englishman and tuechters ). I paid off the SS Cape Sable in London and stayed a couple of weeks with my parents in Islington, then purchased a second hand motor scooter ( Vespa 150 ) and rode it to Leith. It took two days I wore a belt up rain coat grey flannels, black lace up shoes and a cheap crash helmet no goggles. On the second day arrived outside the Leith Sailors’ Home my home for the next few months, I was stiff with cold and for a couple of minutes couldn’t dismount.
    In those days to Leith was a great place plenty of low sailors’ pubs, interesting old buildings and shops ( nautical opticians, chart agents, etc) nowadays it’s a gentrified getto and the last time I was there I barely recognised it. Edinburgh itself is becoming a little tacky, there are shops on Princes St that would in the past not have been allowed there, mind you most cities in the UK incl. Oxford are going the same way.
    The country as ever is going to the dogs.

  8. Jazz: Weymouth’s architecture is comely in a slightly twee sort of way. Were the visitors of a higher quality I’d happily have spent more time walking through the streets and along the strand. It is, unfortunately — and as you mentioned — something that is happening more and more in all too many places. Otherwise charming, beautiful places are being ruined by poorly conceived policies and mass tourism. Call it the Waikiki Redux if you will. A place becomes famous, certain leitmotifs become universally known and everything is reduced to that. It becomes all but unbearable for those who grew up there or knew it in the past. It isn’t only the UK. Ireland has been reduced to a pub, even the old craich is becoming increasingly forced as the Republic groans under the weight of millions of tourists. Half the shops cater exclusively to tourists and in some villages there’s hardly a shred left for locals. It’s just as bad in parts of Australia, Portugal, Germany, Japan, Iceland, China, etc.

  9. Sod Scotland! Since when was anything normal North of Hadrian’s Wall?
    The sooner its rebuilt with passport control the better!

  10. Hope you are enjoying your trip, Christopher. I am writing this from a damp and wet Dorset! High winds and more rain at the weekend. The good weather couldn’t last for ever but did you take it with you?

  11. CO: Scots generally aren’t too bad, although it’s time that they unload some of their detritus again. I hear Appalachia’s population is starting to thin out. The US has to be good for something!

    Araminta: I’ve just arrived in Glasgow from the Highlands. The weather here is just as grim, if not a bit grimmer! If the weather doesn’t improve I’ll have to limit myself to one museum visit. No need to catch pneumonia! Thank you again for everything. It was really nice to see you and to meet Bilby and Abby.

  12. Christopher make sure that you visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Apart from the exhibits there is an organ recital every afternoon from 1pm…3pm on Sunday. Great paintings by the Scots Colourists and the ‘Glasgow Boys’.

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