Half Term. Full Experience.
It's that time again. And what some families vaguely dread in a 'what the hell am I going to do with them for a week' sort of way, we tend to see as a massive opportunity to do new things.
But, to be fair we do have the means to pop down to the Devon coast which I'll grant you is a massive win, and even when the weather is a tad inclement we can get a bit of salty brine whafting around our noses.
Usually, from our base near Exeter we can gad around to various Devon-y delights such as Budleigh, Beer and Exmouth, and if we're feeling really cheeky perhaps Lyme Regis but this time we went full on crazy and headed east.
Before we hit that road, we did have a short (and chilly) trip down to Exmouth which was crawling with dog owners - actually allowed on the sand in February - and the odd mad swimmer.
But back to the main trip of the weekend. We'd popped to West Bay for 'Broadchurch' location spotting a while back and not gone any further, so this time we drove past onto Burton Bradstock and to the start of Chesil Beach.
After a quick stop at the Hive Beach Cafe just down from Billy Bragg's house, we parked up at part of Chesil at Abbotsbury. It was pretty deserted apart from the odd fisherman, but there was a beauty from the grey skies and slight desolutaion which was hugely photographic. This was enhanced further by the weekend's subplot - the pan-generational South coast kite flying competition. No one won. No one got hurt.
Tiring work, which was good as it was lunchtime and from a bit of Googling, I'd found what looked like the ideal place to replenish lost calories.
Billy Winters, overlooking Weymouth Bay is at first glance a rather unprepossessing building - being the slightly unholy mix of a 1960's school terrapin and some shipping containers, but inside it's a really quirky bar and diner with bright plastic chandeliers, retro telephones and music centres (look it up, kids) plus some cracking food. I can personally recommend the Dorset Chorizo Banger Roll. Yes, it's a thing.
Full of sausage (fnar), it was time to add to my on-off hobby of lighthouse visitations. I'm not sure why I love a lighthouse, but it's probably something to do with isolation against the elements and their variety of design. I'm sure Dr Freud would suggest other rationales, but I don't want to dig too deeply.
Portland Bill is obviously a famous landmark, but I was surprised at the landscape surrounding it which was scarred from stone mining. It really gave an otherworldly feel to the place, topped off by a radar station and a slightly out of place 7-meter obelisk.
Chesil Beach, Portland Bill and Weymouth.
The following day meant one more little beach walk jaunt to Sidmouth (and a look-see at the now infamous 'fatberg', thankfully not pictured here...) but not before we visited a family friend, Angela Glanville who had offered Alice a chance to do a bit of potting.
Angela - who with the sadly missed Vaughan - has run Ark Pottery in a little Devon longhouse in Ottery St Mary for decades, and patiently showed Al how to use the wheel and throw a pot. 20 mins and some mucky hands later and we'd got something that I'm told eventually will be 'excellent for holding some small fruit', but it wasn't bad for a first go and will probably become a family heirloom.
And that's it really, isn't it? - the opportunity of half terms, if you can manage it is going to new places, exposing the kids (and middle-aged kids) to fresh experiences and maybe getting a little thing to take home to remember it by.
Memories. Photos. Small pots. It's all good.
Ark Pottery and Sidmouth.
Sony A7Rii with Voigtlander 40mm f1.2 and Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4