Saturday, September 18, 2010

Around Lyme

We spent today in and around Lyme Regis. We had a huge English breakfast at the Clappentail House and then set off, me with my large walking stick - down the Roman road along the very picturesque Lyme River to the old mill, the shops and the museum. We spent quite a long time in the Lyme Regis Museum - learning a bit more about fossils and geologic time and some of the interesting things that have happened in Lyme over the years. For example, people sailed from here to fight the Spanish Armada in Tudor times and they fought off an attack of the Royalists forces later on at Monmouth Beach (which is now a lovely sandy beach where people are still building sandcastles and swimming in the sea - despite the fact that it is half way through September.

A number of famous writers wrote about Lyme, including Jane Austen (Persuasion) and John Fowles (French Lieutenant's Woman). And then there was Henry Fielding who we knew from John's research was connected somehow to Andrew Tucker. We found a note in the museum describing what had happened. Henry Fielding had tried to run off with Andrew Tucker's ward, Sarah Andrews - very pretty and very rich. Andrew had wanted Sarah to marry his son, John Tucker - so there had been a big fuss with the mayor involved. A note, dated Nov 15, 1725 and signed by Henry Fielding said that all the world should know that Andrew Tucker and his son John Tucker were "cowards and clowns!" The small display also told where Andrew Tucker had lived. We found the old Tudor building which is now called the Mermaid Shop and sells local art work. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn't go inside - but we do have photos - both of the note and the shop!

After lunch at a pub on the beach we went back to the museum for an excellent talk about fossils and fossiling in the Lyme Regis area. Thousands of ammonites are found here every year plus many full skeletons of ichthyosaurs and some plesiosaurs. During storms - especially in the winter - the rain cause small and large landslides to occur and the waves wash away the loose clay leaving the fossils exposed along the beach. People are allowed to pick up and keep anything they find. Really excellent finds can be worth a lot to collectors - though are not usually scientifically significant because the context is lost. The tides were wrong for us to go fossiling - but it looked very compelling.

After that we took a walk up above Lyme Regis. My knee was feeling normal - thanks to my hefty stick - so we went up the river quite far. Part of the public path crossed a field of cows. They were quite distant and placid so we thought nothing of it. However, a couple of fields later we came to a field with two huge horses. the chestnut came directly toward us with the grey not far behind. He had to give us a good looking over and sniff and then proceeded to walk between Mike and I as we crossed the field. It was pretty scary! The most scary thing was that when I tried to escape and hide in the hedgerow, the grey came determinedly toward me. The second scary thing was that standing at the gate at the far end of the field, there was another horse in the next field. There was no turning back. When we got to the gate, we squeezed past the two horses in the first field and climbed around the gate into the second field. Fortunately, the much smaller horse in the second field was not the slightest bit interested in us - so we proceeded across this field without an escort. This would never happen in Canada!

We ended the day with another tasty East Indian dinner and now are getting ready for tomorrow. My knee did not hurt at all today - so I am hoping that with the help of my walking stick I will have no problem climbing up and down the wavy cliffs between us and West Bay.

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