Sunday, 16 July 2017

A change of scene

We have just returned from a wonderful week's holiday. It was so good to just chill out and relax but as you can see we couldn't keep away from the sea - we did add some mountains in too just to provide a different scene!

Our destination was a cosy and very comfortable Welsh cottage dating back to the 1700's on the island of Anglesey, which is located off the north-west coast of Wales.

It was situated beside the coast path and although the sea was at least 10 minutes walk away it had sea views from all of the rooms.

Our neighbours were a huge flock of sheep and a herd of cows

 and we were surprised to look out of the window on the first morning  and see two guinea fowl sitting on the wall!

We took a trip a boat trip around Puffin Island and we were delighted to actually see some puffins and a seal as well as numerous shags and cormorants and on an evening walk we were so excited to come across a pod of sea porpoises swimming close to this wonderful lighthouse. We returned there again on several other evenings but they never reappeared.

Angelsey has always provided much of the food for Wales, inland it is relatively flat. Its coastline stretches for 125 miles and we only visited a fraction of the many beaches on offer. Tavi was in his element as he adores sand and sea!

       We found it surprisingly quiet considering that we are already in the holiday season, as you can see we had many of these huge beaches almost to ourselves!

All holidays have to come to an end, it is always sad to leave but at least we are left with some wonderful memories. There are so many fantastic places to visit both in this country and aboard - if only we had the time and money to visit everywhere on our wish lists! Has anyone else been to Anglesey?

Hope you are keeping well, wishing you a happy week.
Sarah x

Friday, 30 June 2017

Through the Garden Gate June 2017

 I love the month of June in the garden. There is such an abundance of flowers

There is an abundance of flowers and the vegetable garden is starting to produce a fantastic harvest. The first courgette flower  has just appeared and we have had our first cherry tomatoes, we have also been enjoying broad beans, radishes, salad crops, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. Fresh produce from the garden always seems to tastes so much better than anything you can buy!

This is the third June in our new garden and some of the cuttings we bought from our previous garden are looking so established now!

We have had to buy some our old favourites too, such as the astrantia and the mallow.

|Our garden here contains many more colourful plants.

The border above, containing cat mint and alchemilla mollis has given us a wonderful view from our kitchen window.

It has been so dry here for most of the month, the water barrels ran out of water again. The last few days of the month have bought heavy rain, although the water barrels are now full it also resulted in a leak in the potting shed roof, hopefully this can be repaired before any more heavy rain!

June is always the best month for roses too, their scent and beautiful blooms have bought us so much pleasure.

What is your favourite plant or disaster this month in the garden?

If you would like to join in with Through the garden gate each month please let me know in the comments below and I will add your site. Those participating this month so far are :-

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Stories that shouldn't be forgotten

In 1941 following some successful commando raids on Bruneval and St Nazaire it was decided to mount a significant amphibious raid on the coast of France. The destination of Dieppe was chosen.

The assault troops for the raid were to come from 2nd Calgary Tank Regiment under the command of Major General Roberts. The Royal Navy and Royal Air force would supply fire power and personnel to cover the infantry landings.

The layout of Dieppe with beaches and cliffs flanking each side of the harbour was very similar to West Bay and so it was chosen as the location to carry out a rehearsal.

As dawn was breaking on June 12th 1942 Lyme Bay was filled with over 80  Royal Navy vessels carrying the 2nd Canadian Division to the landing beaches at West Bay. Looking at the same landscape 75 years on it is hard to imagine the scale of the operation.

From top- Eype beach, Harbour & beach at West Bay and Burton Freshwater in the distance.

4,000 troops were landed on 3 beaches (Eype, West Bay and Burton Freshwater) These beaches represented the beaches of Puy, Dieppe and Portville.

West Bay was a secure area during WW2 and passes were required to access the area. Those living in West Bay had to have a suitcase ready, as they could be moved out at any moment, one of these occasions was for Exercise Yukon. Not everyone was notified and the family living in the railway station were frightened when they looked out of their window and saw Canadian French speaking soldiers outside on the platform! Harmony was restored when the soldiers were invited in dry their socks beside the fire and have a cup of tea!

Poor intelligence and communications between naval vessels meant that troops were landed late and on the wrong beaches and Exercise Yukon 1 was summed up as being 'Not altogether successful. This put the Raid on Dieppe in jeopardy and it was therefore decided to repeat the Exercise ten days later. This time the rehearsal was overseen by Mountbatten, Montgomery and other Chiefs of staff and the operation was more successful. This was despite two buildings in West Bay being set on fire by smoke flares (Methodist Chapel and Bridport Arms Hotel) and a Canadian soldier firing a smoke rocket that narrowly missed Montgomery!

Following Exercise Yukon the raid on Dieppe was approved and it took place on 19th August 1942. Of the 6,000 who took part in the landing 4,384 were killed wounded or missing - a loss of 73%. It was the worse single day for the Canadian Army in WW2. All the equipment landed on shore was lost, including all the Churchill tanks.
The Royal Navy lost 550 men and 34 ships.
The Royal Air Force in the largest single day battle of the war, flew 2,617 sorties and loss 106 planes.
48 civilians were killed and 102 injured.

The Dieppe raid was a disaster but valuable lessons were learnt and Lord Mountbatten later declared
 'For every solider that died at Dieppe, 10 were saved on D-Day.'

These days news of this scale would make headline news. It has been a surprise to discover that this story is not well known and locals here were unaware of the role West Bay played in the Dieppe Raid. On the 75th Anniversary, a group of individuals got together to raise the profile of this story and get a permanent memorial placed in West Bay so the story of these young men who never returned home would not be forgotten. To raise money for this, a talk and exhibition have been held in the West Bay Discovery Centre, which was very well attended.

The Methodist church known as "the Chapel on the beach", was built by a local ship builder in 1849. The Chapel ceased to be a place of worship in 2007 and now belongs to Bridport Area Development Trust, which restores and re-uses historic buildings. They have recently been awarded Coastal Community Funding to restore the building and adapt it as an innovative Discovery Centre. The Centre will tell the story of West Bay and will include other stories from the past, hopefully including more with happier endings!

Methoodist Chapel - West Bay

Sarah x

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

By the sea

The weather has been glorious the last week and it has made us abandon projects that we are working on and have some long-needed half-days out. It has really felt as if we have been on holiday!

The tide was out when we visited Charmouth beach, allowing us to take a long walk along the sands.

It was just as well Tavi had a hair cut at the beginning of the week. He loves being in the sea or running on the beach, no matter what time of year it is. Our daughter sometimes complains that when he returns from a walk that he smells very fishy!

Another day we visited Portland.  We went to the newly opened D Day Centre, which we were very impressed with. The slipway and harbour above would have been packed with American GI's before they left these shores to invade France in 1944, such a contrast to the tranquil scene now. The D Day Centre, although small, was packed with exhibits, most of which you could handle. All the American Army vehicles you could climb in and explore, including this tank. (We had Tavi with us so we didn't go in the tank, but did sit in some of the vehicles inside.)

It is always good to learn new facts. Outside the Centre is one of the Mulberry Harbours.  These two concrete blocks were part of a portable harbour that was used in World War II to facilitate the rapid offloading of cargo in 1944.  It is a fascinating story which can be read here.

Since the Mulberry Harbours returned from France they have been a local landmark in Portland Harbour. What I didn't realise however, was that six other  Phoenix Caissons returned to Portland after the War were moved to Holland, following terrible flooding in the North Sea in 1953. I was aware of the dreadful flooding in Canvey Island but wasn't aware of the loss of life at the same time in Holland. The caissons were towed over to Holland  (only 4 made it) and were used to form  a defence against further flooding. They are now part of the Watersnood Museum- the video (although in Dutch) is worth looking at if you are interested.

We decided to take Tavi on a old favourite walk on Portland and although the climb up the hill is steep the views are amazing especially when the sun is shining!

    I always wanted one of the beach huts overlooking the sea!

On other days it has been better to take longer walks in the evening. We sat admiring this view of the River Bride, as it heads out to sea, and were delighted to see a kingfisher fly across the river and head inland. It  appeared out of nowhere and flew so fast, it's plumage matching the amazing colour of the water. This is only the second time we have ever seen one, the last time was in Derbyshire about 15 years ago! I hope I don't have to wait that long to see another one.

 After a hot day at the Bridport Food Festival, an evening walk along the cliffs at West Bay was a great way to cool down. Maybe these images will make you feel refreshed too!

Did anyone attend any of the 120,000 street parties that took place in the UK last weekend?  They were inspired in memory of Jo Cox and were based on the Eden Project Communities Big Lunch project that has been running for about eight years.

Regular readers may remember following my suggestion and with lots of support and enthusiasm our road had a street party.  We had planned for rain or some sunshine but hadn't imagined it would be one of the hottest days of the year! Despite the heat, we managed between us to find enough garden umbrellas to give some shade, and it was lovely for all of us to come together and get to know each other better. Everyone thought it was so worthwhile and our plans are to repeat it again next year, I do recommend doing it too.

A street party wouldn't be complete without a cake this one was produced by our daughter as her contribution!
Hoping you are having a good week and I get around to visiting some blogs this week!

Sarah x


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