Tuesday, 22 September 2015


Did I mention we were on our way to Weymouth? We nearly made it but then I dragged Robyn to Portland.

Portland is almost an Island, connected to the mainland by a shingle bank that actually runs for over twenty miles.
It's amazing.

This is the view of Chesil beach;

We'd waited for a nice day all week and we drove to a part of the country that had a good chance of being fine and we were very lucky.
We sat at the top of the hill listening to the sound of far away waves breaking and looking down on a turquoise sea.
We never bothered going to Weymouth.
We had to get this picture taken of us at the Olympic Rings (the sailing was in the sea around Weymouth) but the nice lady who took it for us wasn't very good at photos. You should have seen it before I edited it!

The Olympics meant a  lot to each of us - separated by thousands of miles. Robyn couldn't get here and I was too ill to go and see any of the events.

Portland is a working Island - full of quarries and prisons. Stone is all around either great blocks waiting to be bought or big piles of quarry waste dumped over cliffs and into hollows.
Portland stone is all over London and 'Portland Cement' is named after the process that was invented here.

There's a lot of stone that went wrong and got dumped.
This is how you split stone by hand; you drill a line of holes by hand then you put a 'feather' in each one (it's a split piece of steel that expands) then you put a steel wedge in between the two arms of the feather and then you hit each of the wedges in turn with a hammer.
It's not too hard but takes a while. A crack develops between each hole, they join up and then the crack spreads until the stone splits....like this; 
The views off the island were wonderful;

I think this is the Isle of Purbeck - if the rain ever stops we'd like to go there;

Portland stone is Oolitic Limestone, built up from the fossilised bones and shell of ancient animals. This stone has been eroded and you can see the fossil shells sticking out of it;

Just look at those rocks;

We headed back to Fortuneswell and the beach;

This is Chesil Cove, the very start of the shingle ridge which goes as far as you can see. It was a tough walk for my back but I made it;

This was why - a whole summer in a day;

We came back along the tidemark, beachcombing.

Unfortunately we didn't find gold or silver. Instead we were horrified by the pollution, mainly fishermen's lost tackle - a tangle of plastic line, weights, lures and hooks amongst the seaweed;

We even found a whole spine, tangled in fishermen's line. It was a bit gruesome so I've spared you a picture. I'll only say that it looked a lot better than my spine does these days.

My guess is that it was a porpoise or a dolphin killed by line.

We picked up as much as we could and brought it back to put in the trash.

Each piece of this is death to any bird or fish;

Most of it are 'long lines' of simple lure to catch mackerel; lines of hooks with simple cloth lure which mimic tiny fish. It's from commercial fishermen who should take more care of their environment.

When it's gone it's gone, like this old business;

The whole story of Portland is in this picture;
The limestone cliffs, the scarred land and piles of quarry spoil where useless stone was dumped over the edge of the cliff.
The stone walls are an artwork built as a reminder of the Islands heritage by local people from 1986 to 1993, at the direction of the artist John Maine. The walls are built to look like waves and the stone comes from the old quarries - each wall is built out of one of the five layers of stone the quarrymen used.
We saw a family eating fish and chips and followed their directions to find the shop - they didn't mention how far and how steep it was to get to the high street - I think they drove there.
It was agony!
We staggered back down and ate watching the sun set over a crystal sea.
After that there didn't seem any point in going to Weymouth at all.
I did my injection in the car park and we drove home in the autumn dark.
Good day.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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