With Valentine’s Day behind us, and I do hope that you all had a truly wonderful celebration, here it is Monday again, the start of another week, and I was expecting to post my usual Monday weekly photo challenge but once again my plans have changed.
So what’s new pussy cat? Well, for one thing, for those of us living here in the West Country of a very storm battered Britain, Valentine’s Day turned into a very stormy Valentine’s night. ‘Storm Carnage’ was the headline I read in a Saturday newspaper if that gives you an idea.
This was the worst storm yet and definitely not what Somerset, nor the entire south coast of Britain needed. All in all, up to 22 severe flood warnings were in place (this level signifies a danger to life) stretching from coastal communities all along the south from Cornwall, across to Brighton and Hove and up to the Thames Valley and to parts of Hampshire and Gloucester where rivers are at their highest levels for decades.
The wind howled and thumped against our homes (but then we are getting used to that so we don’t pay much notice now) and the rain lashed down on our windows and doors but we were cozily tucked up inside, enjoying a lovely ‘dine-in’ M&S meal (that is, starter, main, side-dish, bottle of Cava, dessert and chocolates, all for a cool £20) and then we enjoyed watching the Olympics.
We were very grateful to be safe and sound but wondered about all those poor folk whose homes have already been flooded and were facing even more. They woke up on Saturday to their own personal nightmare.
Having said that, when I was a little girl our home in Surrey flooded one year and I have a memory of slopping about downstairs in my wellie boots with water up to my knees, but that’s another story.
The next morning brought with it more wind and rain to a lesser degree until at last, as the day drew on, the storm itself ran out of steam and as if fed up with causing so much havoc , and if not a little bored by now, decided to pack up its things and leave. Good riddance!
Then, by Sunday, a very strange thing happened. Very strange indeed. We awoke to clear, blue skies, birds singing from the half-standing trees and not a breath of wind. It was calm and unseasonably warm too. When I say warm, I don’t mean tropical, I mean it wasn’t freezing cold as one would expect for February in Britain.
To top it off, a strange, orange light beamed down on us from the sky. We almost forgot what it was but quickly remembered our old friend The Sun who had somehow managed to find his hat, no thanks to the wild winds, and had placed it firmly back on his head. The Sun had come out to play and in no uncertain terms, was urging us to do the same.
So we did. This called for a celebration, a walk in the fresh air, an escape from our confines. We decided to take a drive to West Bay which is only a forty-five minute drive from where we live. A walk along the beach was just what the doctor ordered.
West Bay is in fact in Dorset but we live right on the border of Somerset and Dorset so it makes no difference to us. Upon arrival and finding the car park strewn with tree parts and debris left behind by the storm we were not surprised to find the place packed out as we were obviously not the only ones desperate to get out and about. Still, we paid our parking (very reasonable I might add, £1.70 for the entire day) and headed down first to the harbour and then to the beach.
West Bay is nestled just south of the town of Bridport and is known as ‘The Golden Gateway to the Dorset Jurassic Coast’. The Jurassic Coast, part of The Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Sight, spans 95 miles of stunning coastline giving evidence of earth’s glorious history with rocks dating back as far as 185 million years. West Bay is part of this coastline and with its magnificent sandstone cliffs is a truly spectacular beach to visit.
It also has a working fishing harbour which is surrounded by tea shops, waterside pubs and cafes and of course ice cream huts, and there were long queues for ice creams let me tell you! I would imagine that vendors all along the great British southern coast were singing the weather’s praises yesterday.
Hard to believe that we went from this:
To this in just two days:
What’s this? A holiday snap of a lazy lunch taken while sitting outside on a terrace or a patio in the Med perhaps? No. This was our lunch yesterday as eaten sitting outside on a bench by the sandy shore on a sunny Sunday in February in West Bay. And no, I am not one of those people who take photos of my meals wherever I go, just in case you were wondering, but how could I pass this moment up and not record it for posterity?
Be warned though. There are thieves lurking about here. Should you ever decide to visit West Bay, make sure to hold on to your valuable items as you never know who might try to steal them away.
After lunch, we headed out to the beach.
Walking along the beach we noticed right away the collapse along one part of the cliff. Not surprising considering the storms. I was stunned, however, when quickly scanning Sunday’s paper earlier this morning (always a day behind, as per) to see mention of West Bay, together with a photo not too dissimilar to mine, that this damage had only happened on Valentine’s night.
Here is my photo with hubby standing in the distance to help gain perspective of the sheer size of these magnificent, if not dangerous, cliffs.
Another little bit of trivia: An excellent BBC drama called Broadchurch which I for one was glued to last summer, was filmed, in part, at West Bay. I had actually forgotten this until reading this in the newspaper and I do remember seeing the huge sandstone cliffs in the background of some of the scenes now that I think about it.
As we turned away from the beach and back towards the other side of the harbour we saw for the first time the extent of the damage caused by the recent storm surges. On Sunday the sea, while looking very murky and churned up, had receded as normal but we realised that the waves must have come up so high as evidenced by the damage to these walls.
Taking a walk up towards the coastal path, I was able to take this shot. See the edge of the waves to the right along the beach? This is normal. Now look to the left of the photo and you will see the white buildings (beach-side holiday apartments) on the other side of the car park (which is closed off and covered in gravel and debris). That is how high the waves reached, right up the edge of those apartments:
The walls in front of those apartments should like this:
This is what they look like now:
We were also shocked to see how high driftwood and debris from the sea came right up against the sea walls. We have never seen anything like it:
It was one of the most rejuvenating days out we have spent for a very long time and we were so grateful. It has really made me stop and think about this whole business of climate change though. Our very windy and stormy Isle needs to step up to the plate if this is the kind of weather we can expect as typical, otherwise we will be in for far worse trouble down the line.
For now, it is back to rain and wind today in Somerset but we will always have yesterday…
This has replaced my weekly photo challenge post which I will do either tomorrow or Wednesday. I have also been working on a couple of award posts (very late, sorry!) which will follow this post directly, or at least a bit later on today. So, hope you don’t mind but I will be bombarding you with posts this week. You know what it’s like over here at my summerhouse – you never know what you’re going to get, but I hope you enjoyed this little interlude anyway! I’ll see you all again very soon. After all, as I always say:
Watch this space 🙂