Friday, July 11, 2014

Lyme Regis: Day 2 Tuesday, June

Day 2  (Tuesday, June 24)
Lyme Regis and Abbotsbury

Lyme Reis is a small tumble of a beach town, smaller than St. Ives and lacking the stretches of beach. 

 To the west there's a view of golden headlands (the soil is a ruddy yellowish red)  

and to the east is a view of the long cobb stretching out into the bay, a central location for both Jane Austen's Persuasion and John Fowles French Lieutenant's Woman. 

Our guide -- a graduate student of Steve Ellis's at Birmingham who had written her MA thesis on FLW -- took us on a long difficult climb through the town, along the course of the tiny Lyme river

pointing out all the places that weren't where various things happened in Jane Austen's life.  We did stop by the post office to visit the mail slot where she almost surely posted her letter to Fanny describing the town.

By the time she led us out onto the quay, where it was roasting hot with no shade, many of us were no longer up for what looked like a half-mile hike out to the cobb, itself quite a long cobblestone ordeal.  When I started feeling my skin prickling in preparation for a sunburn (thank goodness I was at least wearing a hat) I bailed and went to find those who had already been overdone by the long climb.  We had a lovely, civilized lunch, sitting in a breezy bay window, overlooking the street below.  I finally got some British money and went to do a little shopping for fossil ammonites, a major feature of what they call the "Jurassic Coast."

We met back in the center of town at about 1:00 and set off for the swannery at Abbottsbury, near Chessil Beach.
Chessil Beach is the long golden strand below

The swannery at Abbotsbury is like a small version of the Botanical Garden. (And like the Garden was almost completely washed out by floods this winter) Everything is done with such care. They grow tons of eel grass which is woven into various structures and also sold to local thatchers. The swans are carefully managed: we met a pair of tenders who were setting up hurdles to limit the territory of a particularly aggressive male and heard how they watch for cygnets and inexperienced parents who don't bond properly and foster the cygnets with more experienced pairs.

Lagoon of eel grass with thatched cottage in background; eel grass is used for thatch.

Swans nesting on Chessil Beach

Next we went to the small town of Abbotsbury which has an immense Tithe House, once part of a large abbey complex but now turned into a children's attraction, complete with petting zoo and a jumping castle inside the tithe barn.

No comments:

Post a Comment