The Dorset coastline
Yesterday I took the girls to Dorset, a journey that should have been accomplished in around two hours, but took almost four instead due to the traffic on the M3. We crawled between Winchester and Southampton (about 10 miles) for over an hour and a half, slowed by the enormous number of people who decided that yesterday, predicted to be the last of our current heat wave, was the perfect day to go to the beach. I estimate there are approximately 30 million people living in southern England, and at least half of them were heading to S'hmpton (motorway shorthand) yesterday between 9:30 and 11:00. (Note to my Scottish readers: This would have been an excellent time to launch an invasion. Payback for Culloden and all that other nasty stuff, you know?)
Our destination was Monkey World, which actually has more apes than monkeys, but let's not get too picky with terminology. The only apes I did not like were the human ones. There were far too many of them. Have I mentioned there are approximately 30 million humans living in southern England? The half that weren't at the beach were at Monkey World. This is what one chimp did to get away from them. The crowds, though, were actually a good thing, since the entrance fees go to support more primate rescues.
Monkey World is where the Animal Planet hit show Monkey Business is filmed. It's really an Ape Rescue Centre, and their mission is to rescue abused and exploited primates from around the world. The television show is like Hollyoaks for primates, filled with drama and melodrama. Typical storyline: chimpanzee Cherry neglects her baby; keeper Jeremy must take little Pip away and hand raise her. Will her mother ever accept her again? Meanwhile, Jim and Alison Cronin are in Thailand, searching for abused orangs. They find them at a tourist trap, learning to ride bicycles. It's heartbreaking, and entertaining, just like Hollyoaks (a nighttime soap opera, for you Americans).
From Monkey World it's only a short drive to Lulworth Cove on the Dorset coast. This section of coast is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a haven for fossil hunters. We stayed on the beaten paths, so we didn't see any fossils, but I did get called a "stupid American twat" by some guy who was beating his dog. I don't know what it is about me that I can't keep my mouth shut when I see an animal being abused. Since the dog in question had returned, with a big smile on her face, when the stupid British prick had called her, I was especially shocked when he started hitting her with the lead. I tried to explain that punishing a dog for obeying didn't make any sense, but you can't really argue with a guy who uses words like "twat". I'm sure his girlfriend was impressed by all that manliness. Jerk.
But anyway, Lulworth Cove was a geologically fascinating place. If you want to know why, you can check out this link, but since my knowledge of geology is pretty much limited to identifying flat rocks for rock skipping, I just enjoyed the scenery. We heeded the warning signs and stayed off the rocks, but some teenagers were jumping into the water from atop the rocks. My anthropological observation: the apes at Monkey World were much more intelligent.
A couple of miles away is the potterishly named Durdle Door, which I suspect has been around much longer than Harry Potter. Again, I'm no geologist, but imagine a few dozen millennia in fast motion, eroding away the limestone to create such an image. For movie trivia buffs, the opening sequence of Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here, as well as the Tears for Fears video of Shout.
There were beaches at both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, the former, especially, filled with inappropriately dressed humans. (I would insert a lecture here on what people over fifty ought to put on their bodies, and that should include sunscreen and not bikinis, but hey, who'd listen to a stupid American twat anyway?) I will offer this advice, if you're in search of a relatively uncrowded beach in southern England, head to Durdle Door. The two beaches on either side of the Door were relatively human free. Although personally, I'd head across the Atlantic to Florida if I were in search of a beach, which I'm not—there is just way too much sun at beaches. For some reason beaches here are covered with gravel instead of sand. Must have something to do with geology.
We didn't have time to stop in the little village of West Lulworth, but it was filled with thatched stone cottages. They were the cutest things I saw yesterday, other than the baby chimps; unfortunately I didn't get a photo.
But I got plenty of other photos, which can be viewed here. The Dorset coast is approximately 130 miles from London, if you ever care to visit. You really should, although don't attempt this on a hot sunny day; otherwise you'll compete with half of southern England for space on the M3 as well as the beach. Your best bet might be to take a train to Poole or B'rnmth and hire a car from there.
Or better yet, stay longer. The coastline is constantly changing—well, every millennia or two.