...in a county that bears villages named Piddlehinton, Shitterton and Scratchy Bottom, two old friends met for a long weekend and a very overdue catch up.
UK readers will know that it's Dorset I visited, more specifically the county town Dorchester, as it was a convenient spot to meet my friend V, halfway between her home in Cornwall and mine in Sussex.
We stayed conveniently in the town centre and after non-stop chat over pizza and wine on our first night, we awoke eager to explore Dorchester. First stop was a charity shop...(where else?) but we found nothing to tempt us and keen to get out of the Baltic like temperatures we headed for the museum.
Dorset County Museum was established in 1845 to collect and preserve historic objects which were under threat of destruction by the building of the railways and until the late 1870's the artefacts were housed in ordinary dwellings. At this time, collections had grown so large that it was decided to construct a purpose-designed building and the Dorchester museum opened in 1884.
The galleried Victorian Hall displays paintings, sculpture, archaeological finds and many items of local historical interest, the floor covered at one time by these wonderful mosaics, bears only a few left in tact.
Of course, one cannot mention Dorchester without thinking of the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy who was born, raised in and inspired by Dorset. Hardy captured in fiction the everyday lives of common folk and the land they inhabited and in 1910 he was awarded the Order of Merit by King George V for services to literature.
The front cover of a weekly publication which serialised Hardy's latest writings.
A replica of the Dorset Ooser which featured in 19th century local folk culture and was used to sometimes scare people for practical jokes. However, it's main recorded purpose was to humiliate those who were deemed to have behaved in an immoral way!
After a couple of hours in the perishing cold museum we sought refuge in the nearest coffee shop and after a restorative flat white we headed back to the hotel and later enjoyed a pub meal and yet more wine and chat.
Sunday saw blue skies and after breakfast we headed to a well known market just across from our hotel.
On the way we passed through Brewery Square, a newly regenerated area where once the brewery Eldridge Pope was located. The old brewery buildings are now being revamped into an arts facility, this redevelopment is still ongoing but the square with it's newly appointed fountains and sculpture is still a very attractive place to sit, eat and people-watch.
We soon discovered that the 'market' was mainly a car boot sale but no matter, we enjoyed poking around the stalls and chatting to the stall holders. It was bitterly cold again that day and buyers were fairly thin on the ground.
I bought a couple of The Observer's reference books from this seller for 50p each. These seem to be quite collectable now, I've seen them in chazzas and junk shops for a fiver.
We had a brilliant, albeit very cold weekend in Dorchester and it was so lovely to see my friend again after five long years, the only thing to slightly marr it, was the arrival yesterday of a speeding ticket from the Dorset Police! £100 fine and three points on my licence. Bugger.
Hope your luck this week has been better?