I left Winchester at about 9.30am and decided to wander slowly south-west to Lyme Regis, a tiny sea-side village. It wasn’t far to Stonehenge, and it is one of those places one must ‘do’ when one comes to England. I was distracted on the way, however, by a sanctuary for birds of prey. Thinking of my father, who is a bird watcher, I stopped for a look.
I spent a wonderful (but absolutely frigid) hour wandering about the displays of owls, vultures and eagles. My favourites were the Snowy Owl (a glorious crsip white) and the Pygmy Owl (so adorably tiny). Particularly fascinating was the Secretary Bird. It is an odd looking bird, so named because they look like old-fashioned secretaries; go to this website to see a photograph. They stand about a metre tall, and have the oddest walk. They really do look like they are wearing old-fashioned breeches. I was persuaded to stay for the demonstration flights (it was so cold, it took some convincing) however it was well worth it! They began with the Barn Owl, followed by a spectacular flight by a Pergrine Falcon. Then they brought out the Secretary Bird to demonstrate how it kills snakes by stomping on it – a very determined bird! They demonstrated the habits of a group of vultures (I confess I can’t remember the species) then finished with a duck race! The children present loved this of course. After the demonstration they allowed the children to hold some of the owls. It was lovely to be so close and be able to take photos.
From the sanctuary, I drove to Stonehenge. I would never have expected to have seen as large a crowd on such a bleak and brutally cold day, but then it was a Sunday afternoon! I am afraid it was a bit hard to get excited about it when my ears were going numb! However I got some nice photos and I was glad to have seen it!
From Stonehenge I headed south towards Dorchester. I decided to take a short detour to Thomas Hardy’s cottage, where he apparently wrote Far from the Madding Crowd among other things. I have to say that after seeing his delightful cottage and walking through the peaceful nearby woods, I might actually grow to like the man (I am still emotionally scarred from having to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge for Year 12 English!).
I arrived in Lyme Regis late in the afternoon. I discovered my B&B (another gorgeous home with interesting, welcoming hosts) tucked down a tiny path crowded at each side by tall buildings which was apparently a road! It was a bit nerve-wracking driving up it – thankfully it was one-way – although I had my doubts and was expecting to see some nutter careering down towards me!
I fell in love with Lyme Regis, but will tell you more in the next installment!