From a late 19th century natural history book for children

Page 112/3 By Sea-Shore, Wood and Moorland – by Edward Step, fourth edition

‘did you ever see a squirrel’s nest – ‘Squeggies’s jug’ it is called in parts of Surrey…..

 …it is not difficult to tame a squirrel and make a pet of him, but it is a needless cruelty to shut up in a small cage a creature that is in nature accustomed to scamper freely to the topmost boughs of the highest trees, and to take flying leaps from one tree to another. Men may sometimes be seen in the streets with a very docile squirrel sitting upon their hands and offering it for sale. Do not be tempted to purchase any of these, for what looks like tameness is in reality only a want of life and spirit. The poor creatures have been poisoned – not sufficiently to kill them at once, for that would not suit the dealer’s purpose. As a rule they die a few days after they have been purchased.

 I remember many years ago my brother purchased one of these very ‘tame’ squirrels, which seemed to be the perfection of docility. But a few days into natural health enabled it to overcome the effects of the poison, and at night it gnawed through the bars of its roomy hutch, and was loose about the house. I well remember catching it the next day – aye, and I did catch it! Though this happened five and twenty years ago, I still bear the mark upon my thumb where its front teeth met in my flesh. We caught it several times with difficulty, but it regularly made its escape at night. It seemed to be perfectly mad.

 This went on for more than a week, when one evening a strange cat got into the house. In the dead of the night the two creatures met and quarrelled. There was a terrible uproar up and down stairs, and much scattering of fur. In the morning we found both dead; and so ended my first and last experience of ‘tame’ squirrels.

what people really value

My latest little find was a small cut glass broach that was looking so pretty I couldn’t leave it in the thrift shop. When I got home I fastened it to my jacket, but not before giving it a good look over. I was startled to see that beige cotton had been strung around some of the strands. I wondered why – could it be broken? But it seems fine. At first I was disappointed – the piece may have been less than perfect. But I did not notice anything amiss.

little trinkets from thrift shops can bring so much joy

shiny blues and greens

When I reflected upon it I thought that the careful threading showed just how loved that broach must have been to someone. They had spent time preserving it – perhaps it had been a present or reminded them of a special day. When I thought about it like that, I didnt mind that the threads are there, almost invisible. They are a tiny reminder that the things that we value are not always worth much in money.

There is nothing better than hopping along for the ride when a friend offers to take you on a trip! We visited the beautiful South of England, journeying to the Isle of Purbeck in the county of Dorset. We were not disappointed and found much to amuse and educate.

The beach has cliffs behind it that sometimes collapse in wet weather

The scenery around the beach at Lyme Regis is superb

Lyme Regis is famous for its fossils, but many will tell you that although they spend hours on the beach there, they don’t find a thing. However, the beach experience and the busy street down through the town is certainly worth stopping for!

Beachcombing brought to light some small, smoothed pieces of glass, rounded by the pounding waves. I thought they may look good on a homemade ceiling hanging or light shade – or even perhaps a mobile that could be hung outdoors. They are certainly unique shapes, catching the light in different shades – I thought upcycling these bits would suit someone who loved arts and crafts.

Outside the museum, a copy of the rules for payment from 1489

This announcement is a very early piece of writing

Recent landslides had claimed lives in Dorset after a wet summer – and there has been some coastal errosion at Lyme Regis. The landslide which had fallen from the cliffs turned out to be an old rubbish dump – and it had spilled its contents over the rear of the beach. One old comber, unafraid or oblivious to the danger, was picking his way through the rubbish, although it seemed to us that the stuff couldnt be more than thiry years old. We didn’t think the beach looked too clean, but it was interesting and extremely scenic. Signs made the danger clear to the visitors and there was a museum.

On a hill overlooking the village of Corfe

This was probably the largest stone building in England

A further nosey mosey saw us calling into the small village of Corfe – with its iconic ruined castle on a hill above, and a visit to the coast at Worth and Langton Mantravers outside Swanage.

This is the land of quarries and there is a rich history concerning occupations regarding stone, closely tied in with the area.  Corfe was the place where the quarrymen updated their ‘Ancient Order of Purbeck Marblers and Stonecutters’ agreements (on Shrove Tuesday every year, before a game of football). We visited the Fox pub where the meetings had always taken place and saw a few artifacts in the tiny museum opposite, which used to be the village lock up!

From the museum at Corfe Castle

The history of Stone Quarrying goes back an awful long time

A walk around the coast near Worth took us to St Aldhelms Head – a scenic path looking out over cliff tops with the blue sea fading into the sky in the distance. The view was superb and the wild flowers were dazzling.

A short distance away was the village of Langton Mantravers with two pubs, a church and a lovely little museum. Barely changed from the seventeenth century it was a little gem, and valued its quarrying history. The museum showed a 20 minute film about the stone quarries of the area and how the stone was used. Apparently there are more farming exhibits for the museum but no place to show them – so sadly they are in storage. The charming museum building had been the vicars stables, behind the church, which itself had been very small at one time, but enlarged over the centuries. One church warden is commemorated even though he was a brandy smuggler who hid his booty in the church roof. When the weight of the brandy caused the roof and walls to collapse, his identity was discovered, because his son had written down all the activities in his diary! I believe this church warden was transported to Australia!

This sculpture was in the graveyard at St Georges Church, Langton Mantravers, Dorset

The village of Langton Mantravers housed the quarry workers who toiled in the quarries along the cliffs nearby

We ended our nosey mosey at the remains of the coastal quarry at Langton Mantravers. Called Dancing Ledge I think this quarry got its name because of the scrambling and balancing needed to get across and down to the edge of the sea. It really is like dancing when you have to look so closely at where you are putting your feet!

Dancing Ledge is tricky to climb down to - but well worth the effort

The authorities have blasted out a pool in the stone to make it safe to swim

The sun shone on the glittering waves and baked the quarry stone. Some rugged types jumped into a hole which had been blasted by dynamite to allow people to swim without chancing the dangerous tides. Dorset – what a place!