A British seaside resort might not be everyone’s choice for an Autumnal break. After all, our fair island isn’t exactly blessed with the Mediterranean sunshine of the Canaries or Greek Islands, nor is it as colourful as New England in the fall. But Mr Lighty and I have taken a few weekend breaks away in this country, or mini-moons as we have taken to calling every short break we’ve had since we got married, and we were pleasantly surprised when we visited Weymouth for the weekend last Autumn. Of course, we were lucky enough to have been blessed with fine weather for the days we spent in Dorset, but it certainly showed us that you shouldn’t rule out a British seaside town off-season.
After a treacherous drive down to Weymouth from London, through thick fog, on the Friday evening, it was with some relief that we came to our chosen guest house. Mr Lighty had booked the trip as a birthday treat, and he chose well: The Alendale Guest house was a welcome sight after such a frightful fog-filled journey; our room, housed in this converted grade II listed Georgian building, was cosy and welcoming, with an alluring little window seat and the added treat of tea and coffee making facilities as well as biscuits (as we get older, the appeal of a hotel with tea and coffee making facilities becomes strangely stronger!). We awoke the next morning to find that we even had a side seaview, and went down to meet our hosts, Lesley and Clive, for a hearty combined English and Scottish breakfast. The friendly owners of the B&B offer a flexible approach, and are happy to ‘mix and match’ the ‘English’ and ‘Scottish’ items on the cooked breakfast menu. There were also cereals and yoghurts available for those that wanted something slightly lighter, all of which set us up for the day ahead.
Our lovely room at the Alendale Guest House
Exploring the British seaside on foot
Our excellent breakfast was exactly the start we needed to our day. We often spend hours on foot when on our holidays, getting to know the local area and soaking up the atmosphere of a place by walking. One of the things I love about British seaside resorts are the quirky little shops often found there, selling souvenirs and beach inspired home-wares, and our first morning in Weymouth was spent exploring the harbour area and mooching around its individual boutiques and craft shops. We also took a stroll up to the Nothe Fort on the harbour peninsula, and would have gone in, but unfortunately it was shut for winter closing – this is one of the (few) downsides of visiting such a place out of season, so do check the opening hours of any places of interest before you visit.
As the weather brightened up that afternoon, we decided to visit a classic holiday spot within Dorset: Lulworth Cove. I’d remembered the pretty circular bay from a school visit as a child, and wanted to take my husband to see the beautiful landscape of the area, so off we set. We also tackled the 1 ¼ uphill walk to Durdle Door, the famous natural limestone arch just off of the Jurassic Coast – it was hard going, but one of the joys of autumn walking is the lack of oppressing heat which can hinder summer strolls. The awe-inspiring views and the sight of Durdle Door were well worth the climb, and the refreshing cuppa in the cafe in the car park on our return was well deserved!
The spectacular view of Durdle Door
Although Mr Lighty hadn’t realised the significance of the date when he booked, we were actually visiting Weymouth over bonfire weekend. What’s more, Weymouth stages an annual free fireworks display. And so, wrapped up warm, we gathered with the thousands of other people waiting to see the display on Weymouth’s beach; the bonfire was burning, children had sparklers and then the bang of the fireworks started. I have always loved fireworks being projected from the water, from those I have seen in Cala Llonga bay, Ibiza, through to the fireworks staged on the lake at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, and these were no exception; our only criticism was that we could have enjoyed them for longer! The atmosphere within the town was incredibly friendly, there was no pushing and shoving as the crowds dispersed, and after the fireworks we enjoyed a warming meal in the nearby Ship Inn on Weymouth Harbour. We finished off the night with a few rounds of the two pence machines in the traditional seaside arcades – when in Weymouth, and all that!
Mr Lighty’s whole reasoning for coming to Weymouth for the weekend was to do with the fact that I love monkeys. This may seem like a strange reason until I tell you that Weymouth is close to nearby Monkey World, the ape rescue centre which assists governments around the world in rescuing primates from illegal smuggling, abuse or neglect. The centre is a well run, educational visit for anyone with a love of animals. You could easily see the level of care devoted to each of the primates living there. One of the great things about visiting out of season was the fact that we were able to take in the keeper talks on both the chimps and orang-utans without having to struggle to hear over maddening crowds, and so we learnt a lot, not only about the species as a whole, but also heard lovely, heart warming stories about the animals as individuals. Anyone visiting Dorset should most certainly put Monkey World on their list of visits, as it’s an excellent day out in this beautiful part of the country.
A gorgeous Orang-Utan at Monkey World
And so this was how we ended a weekend of Autumnal seaside success. Yes, we were lucky with the weather, and yes, the fact that it was Guy Fawkes’ Night probably helped too, but we also had smaller crowds to deal with and those crisp autumn days in which to walk. So I would definitely recommend a trip to the seaside this autumn. Do your research, know what’s open and what’s happening, in case you don’t get as lucky as us, and just enjoy: our country has some lovely places for us to explore, if only we learn to take pleasure in the simple things.