ABC Wednesday 5: C is for...

... Cafe Garden and other delights beginning with C!

One of the best things about visiting people like Esther, is you get a different perspective on familiar places. I've been to Portland many times, but always hurried along to the end to marvel at the area around Pulpit Rock.

This time we took the bus and had a marvellous 'mappers' view of the whole of Chesil Beach as the bus lumbered up the steep hill. My picture of it is more of a 'ground view': the link will give you an idea of what we saw on the way. We alighted in Easton and I appreciated the slowing down of time this afforded as we ambled down the street. We were able to have a really good look at things: there's bright public planting in the park and the rows of terraced houses lining the street have stone troughs of cheerful flowers around their doorways instead of gardens. Esther really liked the Erigeron we found in some of them and I wouldn't be surprised if there's some decorating her garden the next time I visit.

We walked via the Portland Museum and Pennsylvania Castle - with two very busy gardeners in evidence in the grounds - to Church Ope: a secretive place, the kind which makes you glad to live in Britain. Quite a lot of the walk down is steep and not trusting my trainers, I elected to keep Esther company in the area around the ruined St. Andrews church. As you can see, the view we had from there is superb. BTW the link shows and tells you a lot more about Church Ope, St. Andrew's Church and the places we passed along the way. On the way back we were close to one of the working quarries. If you're unfamiliar with Portland, you probably have seen its stone as Sir Christopher Wren - who was MP for Weymouth - used it for St Paul's Cathedral and many of the buildings built after the Great Fire of London. It's also used for the armed forces headstones in the vast war cemeteries on the continent. Portland stone is also famous for the giant ammonites and other fossils found in it from time to time. I was most envious to see one of these in Esther's garden.

Our last port of call for the day was White Stones cafe back in the village. I suspect it's named after the Portland stone as it's quite close to the quarries. As well as having a warm welcome and serving excellent coffee plus a host of tempting treats, the cafe's also a gallery. I particularly liked the Dorset photographs on display there. The inside is vast, so there's plenty of room for both art and coffee drinkers. But the cafe had a final surprise up its sleeve. Out the back was an exquisite courtyard garden, a cut above most of the outdoor areas attached to cafes - do have a look at the link to have a good walk around. Like Carol Waller's garden I visited recently, it was a showcase for sculpture and showed how it can be used to enhance a more intimate garden. I particularly like the pictured fun fishes sprouting out of the pond area. Other pieces of art, such as ironwork had been used to create lots of little spaces with tables and chairs for customers to enjoy the varied planting and art around them. The wall I showed you in my August diary a few days ago was also taken there.

Thank you Esther and family for showing me some of your Dorset and for being such wonderful hosts. Esther's written her chucklesome perspective on my visit today, which is a rather good coincidence :)

For more curvaceous C's, do visit the ABC Wednesday blog.


  1. I love cafes where there are gardens with sculpture!

    What a lovely word, 'chucklesome'! I think I'll set that as one of my goals - to have a chucklesome day every day!

  2. Very interesting post! Gardens are wonderful! I took my mom to the doctor's last week and he has a gorgeous garden out back so while waiting for him, you can watch the brids and enjoy the flowers.

  3. I didn't realise there was so much to Portland! We invariably drive past that area without resisting reciting the old joke

    Is that Portland Bill?

    It is Portland and don't call me Bill!

    Sorry - I couldn't resist it even here. It looks lovely, I'm more familiar with the long stretch of CHesil Beach and didn't realise that there was other interesting scenery around.

  4. Such a delightful place.
    Beautiful shots and post.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Not knowing the south coast very well, you had me confused for a moment, with the American sounding names! LOL!

    It looks stunning - especially that view of the long drop down to the beach! Are those beach huts down there? I want one!!

  6. We enjoyed your visit too, VP.

    I'm stunned that people don't know about Portland . . . I mean, I know they don't . . . and also that Dorset as a county is very much under-known and un-explored by people who don't actually live here - but I can't understand how this has come about - it is so very interesting and beautiful.

    Because we don't have a car, our visitors have to be happy to go to places on foot or by bus . . . but people with cars have access to even more wonderful places.

    Jay - I just took a look at the price of huts on Portland - looks as if you would need between £18,000 and £50,000 if you were to buy one - and you wouldn't even be allowed to stay in it over night!


    P.S. Arabella Sock - do you know about the sub-tropical gardens at Abbotsbury?

  7. Hi ABCers - I'll visit you shortly :)

    Phoenix C - I love the word chucklesome too!

    Arabella - you really surprise me. Dorset's a fantastic county as Esther's already commented. I suppose my thoughts about the place are shaped by my best childhood holiday ever at the age of 7 in Weymouth and fantastic O Level Geography and A level Geology field trips at school.

    I don't know how Portland Bill got its name, but if you turn the map upside down it does look like a bill!

    Esther - thank you. I really appreciated the opportunity to be on foot and on the bus. Whilst the area covered is smaller, I think it's a much better way to get to know a place properly. And thanks for your responses to some of the comments too - they're most helpful. I love the Portland beach huts too because they're more like sheds - just the thing for a gardener getting a dose of the sea for a refreshing change!

  8. VP, You take the most fascinating trips! I checked out the courtyard cafe--what a beautiful and interesting place to stop for tea. I'm going to Portland, too, in a few weeks--Portland, Oregon, that is. I'm going to help my daughter move there, though, so I doubt any garden visits will be on the itinerary:)

  9. Oh what fun! Looks like you had a wonderful visit!

  10. What a fascinating tour! It's an area I don't know at all - or I didn't until coming here. Now I'm a bit better informed.

    On behalf of the Team, thanks for participating.

  11. Rose - does that mean no more trips to Arizona for you? Portland will be very different. I look forward to hearing about your trips there.

    Tumblewords - thank you - we did :)

    Dragonstar - hopefully the post might tempt you over from Ireland for a visit.


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