Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Time, Waves, etc.

Back in August, while this blog was having a break, we had a week down in Dorset.  What with the intervening ten-thousand things, I'd pretty much forgotten about that.  It was not the sunniest of weeks, but we had a good time, nonetheless.  I've always enjoyed kicking along a beach on a blustery day, looking for fossils and watching the waves. It puts things in perspective; sub specie aeternitatis, as the philosophers say.  Though getting your boots flooded by an unexpected wave puts things in perspective, too.



The end of the Cobb, Lyme Regis

It was interesting to discover that the association of the Cobb at Lyme Regis with the film of The French Lieutenant's Woman has finally faded.  Absolutely nobody was doing a Meryl Streep selfie out at its windblown end.  You'd probably struggle to find anyone who'd heard of the book's author, John Fowles, either, despite his long residence in the town.  I certainly struggled to explain to my daughter why, long ago in the 1970s, his novels were thought to be quite significant.  Time does its inexorable work.

The most striking thing about the Cobb is the level of real danger it represents to the unwary.  Not only is there no parapet or railing to prevent you falling off into the sea, and not only does it also slope laterally quite severely, so that you have to counter gravity's attempt to steer you into the harbour as you walk along, but there are solid trip hazards all along its length in the shape of mooring rings and bollards.  To venture out to the very end, on a dark and windy night without a torch, as we did, is idiotic indeed, but fun.


Struan said...

They've extended the sea defenses now, but when I was a nipper the car park in the Square, near the museum, would ship green water in the winter gales. The houses along the front were tarred all down the seaward side to protect against waves, which in the worst gales would break up against the full height of the house.

The Cobb offered a mad version of surfing a tube. In strong westerly storms you could creep out along the walkway, pressed up against the wall, and enjoy the water cascading above and over you, and down into the inner harbour. *Usually* you only got a bit wet, but freak waves would leave you with a long cold walk home.

There was a Milk Bar on the front. It sold pale hamburgers, microwaved from frozen with no attempt to grill, which tasted of pure factory floor.

Mike C. said...


Love the idea of the Cobb as a surf tube. Did you live in Lyme, or go there for holidays? I must say I'm very fond of the place -- saw many of our kids' first movies at the little cinema there on November half-term breaks.

Gastronomically, the area has gone up the world -- one of the few British seaside resorts where artisanal bread is available from competing outlets. I blame that Hugh Fearnley-Wotsisname. We had some excellent meals -- I recommend the Mill Cafe and Supper Club.


Struan said...

The local Grammar school kept its boarding places when it went comprehensive, and was popular with military families. There was no tuition fee, only a boarding fee, carefully matched to the sum the govt. would pay if you were serving abroad. I was there for two (formative) years '77-'79. My two brothers for their whole secondary education.

No boarders now, and many of the other local schools seem to have shut. Perhaps the retirees have finally taken over :-)

We keep meaning to go for a fossil-hunting holiday, but other things keep getting in the way.

Dave Leeke said...

We went there the day after the storm last October. Love the place.

Mrs Dave did a "French Lieutenant's Woman" and the one picture I have is filtered to make it look old and hand-tinted. I guess that deserves your opprobrium. Sorry.

Still, we went to the Mark Hix restaurant and paid top dollar for some pretty good grub - local sea bream and sea purslane - but to be honest, I cook just as well at home.

My daughter (the Southampton Uni educated one) proves to be the only person I know who regularly finds fossils there. NB: I wasn't there at the same time as her, so no fossil jokes, please.

Mike C. said...


Yes, I could see myself living down there, apart from the summer traffic. Never seen it anything like as bad as it was this August -- immobile from before Dorchester...

Maybe worth a try for a meal,next time you're down there, are Little Barwick House, near Yeovil, and the Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton -- both worth the drive, and both definitely better than my cooking...