Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

With mist still lingering it was once again a gloomy day (with a predicted chance of brightening later), but it also remains mild and by and large windless so pleasant enough for a wander a little further afield.

A quick look over Westham Bridge and across the Backwater only produced this Little Grebe

which was already at 'Diving Stations', so swiftly on to catch the 09:10 bus.

As described, it was thought 'gloomy' in Weymouth but preferable to reaching the brow of the Ridgeway Hill where conditions were more like Mordor than Dorset!

However, reaching the village of Puddletown things were starting to improve while just an hour from the departure point and passing

the gateway to Bryanstone (Public) School things were looking a great deal better. It has been many a year since I last visited

but with continuing reports of 'obliging' Otters on the river here the return was considered long overdue.

The first building as you enter the town from the south is the Crown Hotel, indicative of the Georgian architecture for which the area is renowned,

not to mention Hall & Woodhouse and their famous Badger Beer.

Stepping from the bus there was a chance to look along the 2 main thoroughfares,

centred on the Market Place

before starting the search for these beautiful mammals.

Having spotted the bridge from the bus, just a couple of hundred yards from the stop, it wasn't long before I seemed surrounded by

Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits, the riverside trees being full of both.

It was worth searching the area close to the Weare as this had been reported as one of the Otter's favorite spots, but in addition both banks were covered as well

before taking up the vantage point of the bridge itself. From here there were some excellent views and if they were to show then I would be best placed to see and photograph them.

Looking back towards the town.

There was some bird life including Mute Swan, Moorhen, Bullfinch, Little Egret and a flock of scavenging

Black-headed Gulls and

plenty of Mallard.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Otters, and talking to passers-by the story seemed to be that they hadn't been seen for a number of days now. 2 hours looking was enough for me, so returned to the town to see what was of interest there.

The Guildhall and

Central Church are the most prominent buildings but not far off the beaten track

there stands the Greyhound Pub.

There are a veritable labyrinth of passageways here with much to be discovered down each of them.

Another pub, this time the Dolphin, selling Piddle by the look of it,

while carved in nearby granite curb-stones are these immortal words,

I'd have to be a lot further down than the gutter not to be able to see the STARS - Shine On You Crazy Diamong!

Reaching the East Street Hall, I was informed by a passer-by that this was once a Labour Party HQ (Keep the Red Flag Flying) before directing me next door.

This is the Artisan House

with a Blue Plaque reveling its secret. Appearing to be just another 'red brick' building it is in fact

constructed of 'tiles'. Not easy to depict in a photograpgh, but look between the downpipes and it can be seen that the bricks are in fact tiles.

The Town Pump is also of interest if only for the

family name it is dedicated to - have I said Bastard today?

Right Click on the image to magnify. Finally, while searching for the final building of interest I met 78 year old John who had spent 50 years in the town as a Window Cleaner. Having 'sold' his business and retired some years ago, the new owners were found to be less than satisfactory and John was, by popular request, asked to return. He did, he's still at it and also directed me to what was once

The Red Lion Public House. Most of the town was destroyed by fire in the 1760's but the landlord was determined to reconstruct his pub, and leave his 'mark'. Reputed as something of a 'Ladies Man'

he adorned the Lion with some fine Human Tackle. Here Endeth the Story!

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