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Friday, 22nd March 2019
We left Amelia at home to be looked after by our friend Sandra rather than put her into a cattery - avoiding the problem of getting her into a carrier. She knows when we're off on holiday and is prone to hiding in accessible places like the spare room bed and a cubicle in the cat tree. Our packing didn't forget too much, just the National Trust car parking sticker which we wouldn't have used in the end. As we were only away for a week the bags fitted into the back of Virginia's Kia, we didn't use the big cases.

Virginia drove to Sainsbury's at Eddington where we got biscuits and also a Chinese meal for two. Having a Chinese meal for two the night we arrive at a holiday cottage has become a tradition for us. She carried on driving to South Mimms where we patronised Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was impressed by how organised the KFC operation was, from ordering on touch screens to the way the staff packaged everything. Like sportsmen on top of their game. The meal deals we got proved to be too generous, we didn't do the Chinese meal justice later. I did the rest of the driving, suffering congestion on the M25, and a crawl through Salisbury, but an easy drive apart from that.

A little fun as usual finding Ruth's cottage in Charminster. On a good day the Satnav gets you within a hundred yards or so of the target destination. Charminster however is a very pretty village, of hilly streets without pavements, but confusing to the visitor. Finding 1 East Hill wasn't clear at first. We found Ruth's in the end, entered by a tensely narrow gate by Bridge House which belongs to the owners. Bridge House is by a bridge over an enchanting stream running swiftly along, the other side is a picturesque traditional Church.

Ruth's was fine, the owners had left us Dorset apple cake, and Dorset ginger biscuits, and Dorset tea. There was also a bottle of wine so we had a glass with the Chinese meal. The staircase is in the well appointed kitchen, the shower unit vacillates between hot and cold in use, the key in the front door is reluctant at times. It is a blind entrance, you can't see traffic coming when you drive out.
Virginia navigated us to Tyneham, relying on directions from the website as it said it was the grid as far as Satnavs were concerned. We were competing with cycle races, and particularly joggers on the narrow approach road down into Tyneham itself. This Saturday was drizzly, the worst weather of the holiday as it turned out.

People were evicted from Tyneham in 1943 for the Army to use the area for D-Day practice, but despite politicians' promises they were never allowed to return. I wanted to see Tyneham as a real place somehow cut adrift from time in 1943, but several things contended against feeling this when there. To my surprise a lot of people were there gawping (I guess you say we were gawping too). There wasn't the feeling of finding something lost by yourself. The buildings are empty shells for the most part with display panels on them, not slowly mouldering ruins overgrown by nature or miraculously preserved as they were in December 1943. The telephone box is nice (but a reconstruction!) The school room is good to see, atavistic look back to the days of rook pies and times tables.

Virginia and I then headed to Corfe Castle (fun parking) where we did a small model village (self referential as it had a model of itself!) then had lunch at the National Trust tea room before taking a gander at the ruins of Corfe Castle. We almost did Durdle Door on the way back but rain, distance, car park costs and that Virginia would stay in the car dissuaded me. We dined in Dorchester on a busy Saturday night, no room at Zizzis in Brewery Square but we ate at Wagamamas, Japanese fusion cuisine which I enjoyed but Virginia didn't so much.
Not one of our more successful days. We failed to make the morning service at Weymouth Baptist Church (forgot it was 10am, nightmare trying to park in Weymouth, bridge over harbour exit up at one point). So we sauntered round the esplanade and sat for a while in well manicured gardens. Then we failed to get to the Beefeater for Sunday lunch that we had booked, the Satnav kept wanting us to use a blocked road. The same blockage stopped us getting to the Weymouth Sea Life place. So we ate at Pizza Express in Brewery Square which disagreed with Virginia.

Holidays I find are stressful, particularly when driving around lost, or driving around mazes of streets like Weymouth was, or even more particularly when driving around lost in a maze of narrow streets. The Satnavs seem to like taking you down one car wide lanes which means you're always on edge. Cruises once you're on board are more relaxing.
We made up for yesterday's failures by seeing loads of museums in Dorchester today, making full use of a Golden Saver ticket. Not large museums as museums go, but with their own charm. I liked the Teddy Bear Museum most, I have a soft spot for soft toys. We then did the Dinosaurs Museum, which featured dinosaurs unsurprisingly.

We took in the Terracotta Warriors museum (reproductions not the originals) as well as the Tutankhamen Museum (again reproductions). A bit macabre for me the last one. As it was about lunchtime we went to an Old Tea Shoppe for a drink and sandwiches (I had Welsh rarebit which I still think should be said rabbit). We then walked from there to a Roman Villa in the grounds of council offices. Only on arriving at the glass structure covering the mosaics did we discover that as close as we got to them!

In the evening we dined at the Sun Inn not that far from Charminster, enjoying its carvery. A nice wooden beamed pub, great atmosphere, just a little dim where we were sitting. My father always said that the more expensive restaurant the less brightly lit it was. The Sun Inn bucked that trend.
The Satnav led us to farmland and then gave up when we asked it to take us to see Maiden Castle, so we gave up and headed somewhere else. Happily en route to somewhere we saw signs for Maiden Castle so off we went to be Iron Age Celts for an hour. Maiden Castle is a hill of mounds and ridges and ancient earthworks, complete with a school party! Good exercise up and down the ridges, though the palisades and dwellings had long gone.

We then voyaged to Athelhampton House and Gardens where we had lunch (ample sandwiches). After lunch we toured the house, in the main hall a picture of fighting bishop with black dot on him due to bitumen cauterisation during a battle. In the upper floor a gallery of art by an artist Marevna who was connected to the house and also to schools of pointillism and cubism. The gardens were very soothing and cultured and well laid out, with topiary and fountains. A nice place to visit.

Back at Charminster we tried to find village shop but I gave up too quickly on the right path, so instead we drove the car again and found a Lidl. In the evening back to the Sun Inn for nourishment in the evening, no carvery this time but fitted in a pudding (Dorset apple cake and custard for me).
We went to see Monkey World, which while it kept the animals in cages they were as good cages as I've seen - cages inter-connected by wire mesh tubes so the animals could roam around. The chimpanzees etc had generous areas. I was impressed that this zoo did as well as it did. To show our approval we got a tea towel. The animals (the larger ones) all have names and you can sponsor them. Join their fan clubs.

We also did the homage to tanks of Tank World, sited on an army barracks, and then saw the cottage Hardy was born in. For an evening meal we headed to Brewery Square in Dorchester again and ate in Zizzis, I had lasagne then a calzone for dessert which needed knife and fork not a spoon!
We were about to use our National Trust membership again at Kingston Lacy but the Satnav died, eerily exactly a year since we lost Tabitha. We felt bereft and lost, no car atlas in the car, we were lost in the wilds. You come to rely on technology and only realise how much you rely when it's taken away. So we went into Dorchester as we knew the way by now, parking by Brewery Square, and found Tourist Information. The sign said closed but they still helped us. So Waterstones sold us a car atlas, no-one wanted to sell me moccasins, and we also got some polyfilla for holes in the home. We then visited a Halfords down Weymouth Road and got a new Satnav. At first we couldn't get it to look up places by post code, the menus have changed a little.

Saw Hardy's home at Max Gate (like many other places difficult to park). In the evening another carvery at the reliable Sun Inn. Thursday evening was enlivened by the bell ringers practising at the next door Church!