Tuesday, 21 January 2014


"After a lapse of a couple of years,  and through the exertions of an energetic Committee,  this popular aquatic holiday has been this year revived, and was held Monday, when, notwithstanding the unpropitious state of the elements,  the programme was, as far as practicable carried to a most successful issue.   On Sunday and indeed up to yesterday morning,  it seemed likely that there would be no probability of holding the Regatta, for throughout Sunday there was a very heavy south-westerly gale blowing,  the sea washing over the Esplanade,  throwing up tons of shingle more than twenty yards beyond the charming sea walk,  and doing considerable damage to the Esplanade.  Such a storm had never been remembered at this season of the year by the oldest inhabitant,  the sea on Sunday presenting a majestic sight as the waves beat against the houses facing the beach, drenching all who endeavoured to witness or weather the storm.   The Committee, however, decided to proceed with the sports,  although the gale still continued yesterday morning,  so much so that no boats could come from any other place and all the competition was confined to Sidmouth."

From:  The Western Times,  Friday, September 7th,  1883.

Tough lot,  these Sidmothians!

Sunday, 12 January 2014


(A Study of a rare old Conservative)

Behold an old relic of old-fashioned days
Recalling the coaches, the hoy and post chaise!
It has not advanced in a timber or wheel
Since first it was fashioned by Benjamin Beale.
It is not aesthetic, nor yet picturesque,
'Tis heavy and cumbrous, expensive, grotesque-
      And I feel very certain there never was seen
      Such an old-fashioned thing as a Bathing Machine.

The windows won't open, the doors never fit.
The floor is strewn over with pebbles and grit.
A looking-glass too with a silverless back,
A pinless pin cushion, a broken boot jack;
It smells of old seaweed, 'tis mouldy and grim -
'Tis sloppy and stuffy, 'tis dismal and dim.
     'Tis a deer-cart, a fish-van, or something between.
     Oh a hideous hutch is the Bathing Machine.

The driver says "Right!" and he raps at the door;
He starts with a jerk and you sit on the floor;
It creaks and it rattles,  you rise and you fall
and bound to and fro like a mad tennis ball!
Again there's a lurch and you nearly fall flat
And first sprain your ancle, then tread on you hat-
     While you're bumped and you're battered, bruised blue, black and green
     In that horrid contraption,  the Bathing Machine.

( The Western Times, September 4th 1883)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


"As we descend the cliff pathway to Budleigh Salterton, the Duchess is nearing the shore.  Surely she shall stop presently, for there is no pier and the passengers must land in boats.   But nothing of the kind.  She steams straight for the beach, only stopping as her bow touches the pebbles.  Then a long stage is run out, down which the passengers troop to the shore.  It is an original way of disembarking and looks not a little dangerous.  But the fact is the beach slopes so rapidly that there is no danger of grounding, and, except in rough weather, the steamer can take no harm."

(The Coasts of Devon,  John Lloyd Warden Page, 1895.)

Friday, 3 January 2014


There is apparently no correlation to be found between the ghostly phenomenon known as 'earthshine on the moon',  and the coming of stormy weather.    We, however, had a rare example of this tonight, (3rd January 2014) here on the Jurassic Coast.   The light of the Earth was reflecting onto the hidden face of the moon and a bright crescent moon was seen to be supporting it and, within an hour,  the stormy weather followed it like a dog his tail.

By a remarkable coincidence I had earlier in the day been reading the Scottish ballad of 'Sir Patrick Spence' (or Spens) to one of my granddaughters, a nine-year old,  and she had been particularly taken by the famous stanza:

"Late late yestreen I saw the new moon
Wi' the auld moon in her arm;
and I fear, I fear, my dear master,
That we will come to harm."

So said a skeely mariner and of course they did come to harm:

"Half o'er,  half o'er to Aberdour,
It's fifty fathom deep;
and there lies guid Sir Partick Spence,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet." 

A few hours only after we had read this we were looking up at a fine example of the new moon with the old moon in her arm as the moon climbed high over Sidmouth.   Then came storm.