Home Three Weeks and I Can’t Wait to Return
Gentle, green Dorset, near Frampton
It’s funny isn’t it, the way our memory can play tricks on us? I have a clear recollection of myself standing by a window in Wyke Regis, gazing out at yet another gloomy, rainy day and thinking out loud. I’m at that age when it helps to say things I want to remember out loud. If I don’t say: “I’m taking my calcium tablet at 8am on July 1st” in a loud distinct voice, I’m likely to forget and take it again at 9am. This time I was asking myself if it really was wise to continue making my annual journeys to Dorset.
I remember saying, “Seventeen visits in seventeen years is enough already! What’s so wonderful about Dorset anyway?” That morning I’d had an alarming experience with the public loo on Trinity in Dorchester that doesn’t bear repeating. Then the 216 bus that I was waiting for, scheduled to come at 11:58, didn’t come at all. It skipped Trinity Street completely so I had to wait for the 12:58 – that did come on time – to take me to Sherborne.
I was feeling very cross by this time so it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t find this normally beautiful town pretty at all. To make matters worse I had forgotten that Wednesday was early closing day and I couldn’t visit some of the shops I’d planned to visit. Worse still, Brown’s gift shop, which had been there forever, had disappeared!
Sign post to Corfe Castle
On other days I was greatly annoyed at the seemingly endless dismal weather reports that necessitated my carrying cumbersome rainwear each time I set out in the morning. Most of the time I didn’t need it but I was sure that the day I left it behind would be the day the heavens would open to let fall a record breaking deluge. Not being able to count on the weather was more frustrating than it had ever seemed before.
Then there was not knowing where to cross a busy street safely, a handicap I had overlooked before. Why don’t the English believe in crossing at corners? Because they don’t have corners, that’s why! And why is it so hard for me to order cream with my coffee in the daytime? It’s readily available in the evening. Once I started I began to pile up data that seemed to lead to the conclusion that Dorset really wasn’t as idyllic as I had always imagined. How could a place be idyllic if every time you wanted to wash your hair you had to take a shower? Why don’t the English believe in single blended water-faucets for their washbasins as well as their showers?
Yes, I can remember thinking all of these negative thoughts while still in Dorset but now that I’m home in California they don’t seem to carry much weight at all. How silly to quibble about having to bag all of my own groceries at Marks & Spencer, even if my neighborhood supermarket here in a suburb of Los Angeles not only bags them for me but sees to it that they are carried out and packed carefully in my car. That’s not important at all. So what if I have a major shopping mall within walking distance of my house and three others easily reached within fifteen minutes by car. Who needs two Cineplex theaters with a total of thirty 70-foot-screens showing first run features nearly twenty-four hours a day?
Mapperton House and Gardens
It’s what we don’t have that’s important. We don’t have soft, green countryside with lovely rivers and streams to walk by anytime we feel like it. We don’t have stately ethereal gardens like Mapperton and Minterne where we are welcome to spend hours for a small entrance fee. In Dorset there are intriguing footpath signs pointing the way to dramatic ruins and charming villages. We do have good restaurants, but we don’t have the excellent, modestly priced pub food to be found at many of Dorset’s friendly pubs.
I live in a pleasant residential neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, but we don’t have the same sense of happy community that I found in Wyke Regis. While in Wyke I could enjoy the marvelous advantage of having a village store and post office just a few steps away from my door. Here a trip to the post office means getting the car out and driving several miles while hoping to find a parking place in the always crowded parking lot. I think it’s a tragedy when a village store and post office closes, they are national treasures the government should protect, even if it takes some kind of subsidy to help them survive. They are essential to the “good life” to be found in Dorset.
Joyce Smith: Welcome to warm and friendly Dorset!
Back home, my memory is very hazy about all the little inconveniences that seemed so important at the time, but it’s very lucid when it comes to remembering the many good things. Uppermost in my mind is the memory of all the good friends I’ve made so easily. Take for example, Joyce Smith who lives in Evershot. Her exceptional kindness has made her very dear to me. My photo of her standing at the door of her cottage would make a great poster for Dorset’s Tourist Board reading: Welcome to warm and friendly Dorset!
Home three weeks and I can’t wait to return!