Thursday, 3 June 2010

A wooly story and a dash to Portland Bill

The day after. Up with the lark this morning, I've got quite a lot of mileage to cover to the next hostel. I was in the kitchen cooking my breakfast, porridge and peaches today, when I noticed two four wheel drive vehicles pull up at the gate to the field next door. They let themselves in and opened the tailgate on the pick up, four border collies jumped out, eager to get to work.

I used to love 'One Man and His Dog', on the tele years ago, such intelligent dogs are amazing to watch, they obviously love their work. I remember when the first shepherdess won the competition, one up for the ladies, well done Katy Cropper. I can tell you a little story about her.

I was at the Savoy Hotel for the Women of the Year Luncheon, and Katy Cropper was also on the guest list. She arrived with her dog as you would expect, they are a team. She was told that her dog would not be allowed to enter the luncheon with her, and the start of the event was delayed while discussions went on. Katy declared to the powers that be that if her dog couldn't come in then she wouldn't come in either. Management had to back down and her lovely dog lay by her side at the table all the way through lunch. Ahhhh, a happy ending.

Now I was seeing sheep dogs work for real, this is a great start to the day. My breakfast was ready, I took it outside with me so I could get a better view of what was going on. Job done and all the sheep are awaiting their turn.
I chatted to the young lady as they were getting ready. She told me they are from Lanarkshire, and they go all over the world shearing sheep. They have 350 to do here today.

The farmer feeds them through a series of pens, and ejects the lambs, which are more like teenagers now. They are left to wander around outside the pens and wait for mummy sheep to come and claim them.

The two lads worked fast to pop music blaring out from a portable radio, maybe this helps them to keep up a good pace. I timed how long it took to do one sheep, it was 90 seconds.

Although it looks like they are rough handling the sheep, they hold every one of them in the same way. They wear soft leather slippers on their feet so as not to cause injury if they should accidentally step on one.

That's another one finished, off you go. The young lady had the job of folding the fleeces and packing them into a big canvas bag. Lots of bleating going on as mummies look for their offspring after their makeover in the beauty parlour, ha ha.

Well you learn something new every day. My early start has been delayed, I couldn't set off untill I did a bit of nosey parkering and took some photo's. Never mind, I am on holiday.

I arrived at Portland at 10.30am and found a free car park next to the coastal path. The weather was a bit misty so the photo's are not as clear as I would have liked. I didn't bother taking any distance shots at first, visibility wasn't so good.

I hoped I would have time to walk around the whole peninsula, but as I wanted to stop off somewhere else later I had to be content with a shorter walk. I followed the path past Verne Prison and the Young Offenders Institution, to Church Ope Cove. All that remains of the ancient church is a few stones outlining the layout and a few grave stones. From here I turned inland past Perryfield Quarry. The whole peninsula is covered in quarries, either working or disused, it's a good job it's connected to the mainland by a narrow artery, or it would sink :0) I love quarries, fascinating places.

Looking down on the beach huts, or were they posh sheds?

This very large majestic building was called Pennsylvania Castle. I've no idea whether it is a private house, a hotel, or what type of building it is, there was no signs to indicate who might live there.
Stop Press! I've just googlied this and found a fantastic site. The castle used to be a hotel and is now a private residence. There is more information and pictures of the church behind it and the cove. Worth a look if you are interested.
I've just spent half an hour trying to get this link to work, and I've got to go out. Blooming frustrating, tried everything

Arriving back at the car, the mist has cleared a bit, worth trying some photo's. These were taken looking out over the docks and marina at Castletown. Fortuneswell is at the bottom of the steep cliffs, and you can just about make out Chesil Beach as it disappears into the distance.

Just time to drive to Portland Bill at the tip and take a photo of the lighthouse.

A place to come back to later, I think.


  1. Didn't Katy Cropper's dog have only 3 legs... or did I just imagine that?

  2. I'm not sure about that Cyberkim, the one I saw had it's full quota, but Katy does work with more than one dog. She has a web site which doesn't mention three legs.

  3. I am so jealous, your bills are so low! I try very hard, but where I live I could not get them down so low without freezing or growing mould with the damp! Apologies, I realise this comment is for the previous post! Any how well done!

  4. Amazing photos again! Like your comentary throughout, too. A holiday with a difference. Not everyone gets to see the sheep shearing this close. Well done.

  5. Don't worry about it Ann. What you have to remember is every time you flick a switch it is costing you money. You say you would freeze where you live. Where do you live, in a cold store warehouse, ha ha. I see you are in the UK, you won't freeze if you turn the thermostat down a notch or two. I hope you haven't any heating on now, it's summer.

  6. I think I found a link that works, it's:

    It's so much fun following you!

  7. I have another story about Katy Cropper. About 18 years ago, when eldest son was 10, we met her on holiday (I think it was at The Big Sheep in Somerset). Anyway, eldest son has Aspergers Syndrome, and so was very shy, but dear Katy put him at his ease, and got him out in front of everyone, rounding up ducks! He loved it, and Katy gave his confidence a much needed boost.