Saturday, October 13, 2012

Far from the Madding Crowd

We were indeed far from the madding crowd, at least for a little while. Our journey today: Lyndhurst to Burley to Picket Post to Verwood to Three-Legged Cross to Bere Regis to Tolpuddle to Puddletown to Higher Bockhampton.....

And here we had a respite from our travels, because here, at last, we found the Hardy Monument -- not the huge monument on the hill. We found that several years ago, and I wrote about it here. I said then that I would make a pilgrimage to the Real Thomas Hardy's monument on my next visit, but that was three years ago, and it took until today for me to realize my ambition. When we got to Higher Bockhampton, we made our way to the car park and saw that we could walk through the woods to the cottage in which Thomas Hardy was born. We did that; the path led uphill through a lovely, serene [if muddy] wood, then down, down to the cottage -- and, across the lane from the cottage, the monument I'd been seeking. This monument is about a tenth the size of the one honouring Captain Hardy, but it is tasteful, and when you've been looking for it for years, it looks pretty good.

As we walked through the woods, I thought about the fact that this was where Hardy wrote Far from the Madding Crowd, and where, I imagine, his world-view developed. This was the landscape that formed him. I found a tree that I dubbed the greenwood tree, though that was my own fancy. I don't know what particular tree, if any, Hardy had in mind -- or Shakespeare, either. I kept thinking: Hardy walked here; Hardy stopped and took in this view.

When we got back to the car, we drove just a few minutes to Dorchester, in search of the elusive Costa Coffee. We found it with no trouble at all, actually. The trick is to go to a town big enough to have one.

My next pilgrimage will be to Max Gate, the house that Hardy designed. We were probably a couple of blocks from it today, but by the time we got to Dorchester, we were beginning to look at our watches. We wanted to get to Portland Bill, just for the view, and time was short -- so off we went. Max Gate will have to wait until next year.

Okay, then. Our trip continued: Dorchester to Winterborne to Weymouth to Portland. Up the hill and out to the point, from which, since the day was indeed clear, we could see forever.

We couldn't stay long, but we just had to see this view once before our holiday was over. After Portland, we retraced our steps as far as Bere Regis, then veered off through Wimborne Minster, Ferndown, Ringwood, Burley, and finally home to Lyndhurst.

I do love English place names.

Tomorrow, we'll turn in our rental car and take the train to Richmond, where we will spend the night with a friend who will take us to the airport on Monday. There might be a bit of silence here at the Turtle tomorrow, because our friend doesn't have a computer. (!) On the other hand, maybe I'll find my way to a Costa Coffee and post from there.


Linda said...

I'm so glad you got to hit a piece of your bucket list with the Thomas Hardy monument this time.

What a lovely view of white cliffs.

Thank you so much for sharing your vacation with us.

Rachel Fox said...

We're just back from a shorter trip away ourselves. Great pics on here... I sometimes forget how beautiful England can be!

The Bug said...

I was thinking the same thing about the place names - although I guess the places I drive through might sound odd to someone from England :)

Sandra Leigh said...

Thank you, Linda and Rachel. Dana, I don't know. English names can be pretty bizarre -- do you drive through places with names like Middle Wallop? :-)

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