Monday, 10 September 2007

Snorkelling in Dorset

On Friday we took a half-day's holiday, collected Lorna and Richard from her school in Stevenage and drove down to Bournemouth for the weekend, intent on snorkelling off the cliffs a bit west of Swanage.

Saturday morning was grey and overcast, which was not a promising start, but we drove over anyway, first having to queue for half an hour or so to get over the chain ferry at the mouth of Poole Harbour. As we drove westwards, the clouds burned off, and it turned into a perfect day. After parking up at Worth Matravers, we walked the couple of kilometres down to Winspit Bay, which is a minute crack in the cliffs with a rock platform just above sea level and a few small inlets.

It had obviously been pretty calm for days if not weeks, because the water was remarkably clear, and as we swam, we could easly see the bottom in about 5 metres depth. Sadly, there were not that many fish. Lots of Laminaria weed, but not much animal life.

We did see, and swim with, a shoal of many hundreds, perhaps thousands of small fish, maybe 5 cm long, which was lovely. This photo is of a much smaller shoal of slightly smaller fish. We also saw a number of fish up to 10 or 15 cm in length, some wrasse, possibly cuckoo wrasse and some of what might have been baby cod or haddock. I don't know what had encouraged the several fisherman there, since their giant triple hooks (Jenny found one in the weed and returned it) were far to big for anything we saw down there.

In the fairly warm water, our wetsuits allowed us to stay in for over an hour before we started to feel cold, so we really felt we'd got our money's worth.

On the way home we spotted an interesting looking restaurant, so booked ourselves in for later that evening. This turned out to be a real gem. Thirty Three, on the main street in Canford Cliffs, on the boundary between Poole and Bournemouth, is a great restaurant which has been open for about 9 months. The food was terrific, they have a decent wine list and the service could not be faulted. They managed to walk the line of perfect anticipation of every need without crossing over into being overly attentive. Could not have been better. Oh yes, and there was a man playing saxophone near the front. As we were at the back, it was quiet enough not to intrude, but just right to be able to listen to when we wanted.

That'll do for now. More later!


DJ Kirkby said...

Ah sound sjust idyllic. Loved the whole post but it was finished off perfectly by the image you painted of the man playing his sax, I could hear the notes. Nice.

Rob Clack said...

Yes, it was memorable. Sadly, the menu links on their website seem to be broken.