Our first full day in Dorset, so what shall we do today ? How about going to that bit that sticks out at the bottom ?

The decision was made, as were many on this holiday, whilst working our way through a hearty (for which, read “lardy”) breakfast at The Premier Inn. It proved to be a good idea to pre-buy breakfast. Buy adult ones, get the kids free. Which means unlimited coffees, plates of cooked goodies, and for the kids, a major assault on the European Muffin Mountain, with Sherpas and everything. OK, maybe not the Sherpas then. But a lot of muffins. The American type, not the English.

The decision was probably made the previous night, to be honest, but as is always the case these things need further discussion and confirmation over breakfast, just in case one of us has developed a sudden urge overnight to go spend the day prospecting for gold or herding llamas, or something. You have to check these things.

So to the bus, and off we go in the general direction of Weymouth, with one of us driving, one of us reading a map, and two of us sitting in the back and asking if we’re there yet. We weren’t. Not for nearly an hour, anyway.

To get to the Isle of Portland from Dorchester you have to drive all the way through the middle of Weymouth and out of the other side. And to where we were going, you then have to drive around the harbour and then all the way across the Isle of Portland itself. It’s quite a long way.

When we got there, we pulled into a very large, and really quite empty, car park. Empty maybe because the nearby Portland Bill Lighthouse hadn’t opened at that time. We had no change, but thankfully a bit of a phone signal, so we were able to pay for parking using the phone. Magic that, isn’t it ?

And because the lighthouse wasn’t open we had to find something to do for a while. That something was a couple of geocaches and a quick shufty at the sea. After all, it was sunny (if a little windy) and it was the first time on the holiday we’d been near the seaside.

First up was a traditional geocache stuffed under a big rock. There was a bit of argy-bargy with the kids – the usual fight about who’s turn it was to find the cache – which resulted in a bit of grumping for the next half hour or so. I hate it when they do that.

Portland_017.JPGAfter that we did a rather dramatic earthcache based around the Pulpit Rock, which required some analysis of the rocks under our feet (which the grumpy kids were already doing), a bit of estimation, a quick peer “over the edge” at the sea and the obligatory photo with a GPS device. At least this time there’s more than one of us, and more than one camera, so the camera can take a photo of the phone (pretending to be a GPS).

Walking back along the cliffs from here the kids were starting to cheer up a little bit at last. Ami was happily snapping away with her camera (the photos on this page are hers as much as mine) and Izzy was enjoying the fresh air. It was starting to feel like a holiday.

By this time the lighthouse was open so we went and stood in the queue to go up to the top. It was a fairly long queue, so we had to wait half an hour or so, and then when we got to the front we discovered that Izzy wasn’t tall enough and they wouldn’t let her go up. Grumpitty grump grump from Grumpington. So Kas stayed at the bottom with Izzy while me and Ami went for a climb.

It is quite a long way up, and to be honest, I don’t think Izzy would have enjoyed the climb, especially not the rather steep ladder/staircase at the top which lead up to the actual lamp room. She wouldn’t have enjoyed that bit. So on reflection I was quite glad they wouldn’t let her go up there. Which just left the small task of persuading her she was glad too. Wasn’t that hard. She’s a lot more level headed than her sister most of the time.

So we then mooched over the car park to try to do a “Ye Olde Survey Monument” cache in the road, which was supposed to be what’s known as a “Surface Block”. Unfortunately, it’s now what you’d call a “Subsurface Block” after a considerate man with a lorry load of tarmac decided to widen the paved area on this junction. As the block was not actually visible, the cache owner wouldn’t let us log it as a find either. Grump again.

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Back in the car and a couple of hundred yards up the road we found a traditional cache, under a rock. Ami grumped again because despite the bleedin’ obvious she wasn’t able to find it and I had to do it. At this point, and getting a bit tired of her not trying, and then grumping when someone else got the cache first, I decided we should stop at a cache so I make her do the whole thing on her own. The cache concerned was a golden postbox jobby, dedicated to sailor Helena Lucas and attached rather unsurprisingly to a big black box on a post right next to said golden postbox. Ami did actually find it unaided, and thankfully this did elicit a bit of an improvement in general attitude. Woo-hoo !

Portland_095.JPGNext we made our way back across the island to a car park overlooking the harbour which had a nice seating area and a great big set of concrete Olympic Rings. Ideal for taking a few arty photos of Chesil Beach. It was supposed to have another geocache as well, but we couldn’t find it.

The beach itself was a bit easier to find. In fact, you couldn’t really miss it. Big thing, covered in stones. Over there, between the sea and the, oh, the other sea. Wikipedia says that the Isle is joined to Chesil Beach by a barrier beach, but there isn’t really a line showing where the barrier beach ends and Chesil Beach begins. It’s all just stones. And an Earthcache. And a cafe, which meant it was (late) lunchtime. Cake and crisps time, to be precise, but we’re on holiday, so who cares. The Earthcache required some more examination of the floor and a photo with the GPS, so we got the girls to experience the beach up close by laying on the shingle with my phone. Then we walked over the crest of the beach onto the seaward side. When you get to the top you realise quite how large it actually is. It really is huge. On both sides.

Talking of beaches, the weather was still nice and the kids were getting stressed again by the lack of plodging in the sea, so we drove into central Weymouth and went for a sit on the beach for a while. We hadn’t planned to, so we didn’t have their swimming gear with us, and as a result there was a lot of sandy clothing in the car on the way back. We also left quite a lot of sand on the floor of a very nice fish & chip joint right opposite the Queen Vic Clock. It was so good, in fact, that we went back on our final day.

After which we had a sand filled walk back past the station to the car and then a drive home, some washing of sand down the plughole, and an earlyish night caused by all of us being in the same room. It was a fairly traditional first day to a holiday for us – the kids were grumpy after getting tired and being over-excited the day before, we did a bit of this and a bit of that, and we went to bed to try to get the kids back onto Planet Earth again.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

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