I have a special friend from my days in Chelmsford, working for Marconi – Pat. Over the years we have (sometimes just) managed to keep in touch.
So imagine how disappointed I was to get an email from her in February, saying they wanted to visit us in Australia in November. Oh no, we won’t be home…
We did however manage to visit Pat and Graham in the lovely Dorset village of Burton Bradstock, sip champagne and catch up on years and years of news.
Their home is in that part on Dorset made famous by Mary Anning’s fossil finds in the 18th century. She challenged the Creationists’ thinking with claims that her fossils were ancient creatures that no longer in existence.
We walked along the beaches in the area where rocks crumble away after storms and reveal further fossils. We also saw houses built with local rock and their own fossils.
We visited Athelhampton, one of the stately homes in the area, near the village of Tolpuddle. The earlier parts of the home are Tudor, including the Great Hall with its welcoming fire.
Thomas Hardy was a frequent visitor and the Russian artist Marevna, who painted in the cubist style, lived there for a short while with her daughter and son-in-law. A collection of her work is displayed in the west wing.
Despite the rain, the part of Athelhampton I enjoyed most was the beautiful formal gardens, with giant topiary pyramids, espaliered trees and compartmented gardens with ponds and fountains. Pat & I graciously bowed to Queen Victoria, who stands guard over the garden, and snuck a look inside the pigeon coop.
It has taken years for us to catch up with Pat and Graham. They were wonderful hosts, life was so easy going we stayed an extra night, before heading off to the Cotswolds and London.