One of my photos

Time Travel

August 14th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life · 2 Comments · Life

There were times last week when it felt like my holiday destination was actually 1950 rather than Dorset, although to be fair there were some things which were more late 70s.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Don’t we all sometimes look fondly back to simpler times?

A lot of this feeling was artificially induced by living in a tent without any modern conveniences, and heightened by having steam trains passing the campsite a couple of times an hour, but was re-inforced by visits to the nearest town, Swanage.

Walk the streets of Swanage and you will see unfamilar shops. The whole deplorable phenomenon of ‘clone high streets’ has missed out Swanage. There are two supermarkets but they are small Somerfields and Co-ops in the centre of town instead of huge out-of-town Tescos. Otherwise the only familiar names I saw were Woolworths (a tiny one in the old style), Wimpy (old-style again), Theshers, Boots, New Look and the main banks and building societies. And these were all spread out across the whole town. Otherwise it was all independent privately owned shops. There was even a proper butchers shop and in the absence of a Blockbusters the local newsagent had a sideline in video rentals like every newsagent had in 1980 but very few still do.

It would not have surprised me if the shop actually rented tapes instead of DVDs and I didn’t go inside to have my illusions shattered.

Of course, the total lack of Macdonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and other fast food outlets which was so charming to me was greeted with slightly less enthusiasm by the boy…

In four days we covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of places but hardly scratched the surface. I spent a few childhood holidays in the area and returned on a school geography field trip in 1976 so I dimly remembered a lot of the places. The surprise was how little some of them had changed. Now I have got the initial buzz of re-visiting old haunts out of my system we can take it a bit easier when we go back – and we will go back.

On our return to home I delved into Wikipedia to look up a lot of the places we went to, and found out so much that I had missed, that I now want to go back and see them again in a new light. (How I wish I had access to Wikipedia when I was at school!).

In a few short days we visited Swanage, walked the coastal path up to Durlston Castle, went to the tank museum at Bovington (and saw a ‘tanks in action’ display), went to the Isle of Portland to see the views of Chesil Beach and the rocks at Portland Bill (where we failed to get our kite to fly properly), visited Lulworth Cove, saw the giant at Cerne Abbas, went into Corfe Castle, travelled on the steam railway and passed through Dorchester, Weymouth, Poole and countless villages. In most cases we were woefully under-equipped and next time we will know what to take with us.

I regret not having made it to Kimmeridge Bay to hunt for fossils and to the ghost village of Tynham. That is something for next time, if the army ranges are not in use then. Most importantly we also know now where to find the best place for a cream tea.

We were extremely fortunate with the weather as well. At times it was easy to feel we were back in Greece as the sky and sea were so unexpectedly blue. Standing at the top of the cliffs on the South Coast path, seeing dolphins breaking the water near a passing two-masted sailing ship we did not feel as if we were in 21st Century England at all.

Driving back home and hearing the news on the radio about airport closures and chaos felt like the signal that we had returned to the present.

Tags: ·········

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Jane Skudder

    Funnily enough I was talking about identikit high streets with Rob the other day – but my view was a little tempered by my own experience. When I lived in Durham I had to shop in the one supermarket (an approvable small Safeway) available(as on my wages Marks & Spencers wasn’t an option). They were poorly stocked and expensive but a better option than the shop in my village (fine for lard and lager but not exactly rich in vegetables….). While I don’t want to see the world run by few huge conglomerates the reality is that we do need the big stores. How many people cpmplain about the homogenization of high street once it goes beyond Marks & Spencers, the banks and Smiths (to buy the Daily Mail)?

  • Skuds

    Your old village store was legendary!