West Bay Flood Defence Work

West Bay Flood Defence Work

West Bay has a history of flooding. It is something we became aware of when we were buying our cottage and needed to set up home insurance. Since then we have had several anxious times after our phones have bleeped with a message from the Flood Information Service to tell us that there is a flood warning in place for the harbour and to expect flooding imminently. Fortunately every time it has been a false alarm. The worst we have known was one Friday evening back in 2014 when they even evacuated the flats behind The Esplanade (see picture above).  So good news when the Environment Agency teamed up with West Dorset District Council and agreed to install new sea defences at both beaches.

The West Bay Coastal Improvement (WBCI) scheme

To find out more about the scheme please read here.

Unfortunately for West Bay residents and visitors it wasn’t feasible to do the construction work in the winter months, but the groups involved with the scheme reassured that they would do “everything practically possible to minimise public loss of enjoyment of West Bay’s wonderful beaches” and every effort would be taken “to minimise disruption, noise and dust”.  Hmm, the work is very much underway now and my cleaner has just told me that it is very difficult keeping on top of dust at the moment, cars look like they have been on a desert drive! She says it feels like an earthquake when they drop the rocks on the beach. It all sounds rather interesting if you like that sort of thing but we are very sorry if your holiday in West Bay isn’t quite as relaxing or dust-free as it usually would be.

The work is set to be complete in early July (and they have said they will stop until September even if it isn’t) apart from a couple of things. A new boardwalk at the far end of East Beach is being built in September to help accessibility and improvements are going to be made to the River Brit bank (the caravan park side) over the winter period.

Easter Update 2019

Going up the stairs now...

We had the chance to spend a very long weekend in the cottage at the start of the Easter holidays. A working holiday so to speak as we had a few jobs to get on with. Here’s a quick update.

#shelfieWe put up a new shelf in the kitchen. In the New Year I’d spent a good many hours sanding and waxing an old scaffold plank and deciding which shelf brackets to buy. More fun was deciding what to put on it. Moving the mugs and tea and coffee things to it makes it much more practical when making a cuppa. Do you like the lucky barn star? I couldn’t resist the “Captain” egg timer I saw in a vintage shop too.

Vintage mirrorThe double bedroom got a new mirror. Actually quite an old one, an eBay find that needed a home after my plan for a vintage mirror wall was not met with the same enthusiasm as my own by a certain member of the family.

Oh dear, our wooden table had bad stains on it, we suspect from red wine. Luckily we’d bought an electric sander with us (a Christmas present so I could do my shelf!). So that was sanded and it and the kitchen worktop got an oil too. So did the door step.

The front door got a bit of TLC and a fresh coat of paint.

Graham has the mucky job of jet washing the back paving stones while I had a go cleaning the windows. It was one of the times I’m glad it is only a little cottage!

Big nail!

West Bay Discovery Centre

I popped into the Discovery Centre with a rusty nail. Sarah, one of the volunteers there, had read my blog (hurrah) and wondered if we would be willing to lend the huge nail I’d dug up last summer. During this summer the Discovery Centre is having an exhibition about ‘Shipbuilding in West Bay’. This year marks 240 years since the shipyard was opened. Obviously we would (I was just glad it hadn’t been thrown away). Our nail is going to be displayed in one of the glass cases!

The Cornish Bakery

Eating

We didn’t investigate different places to eat this time but did revisit some of our tried and tested favourites. Luckily when we arrived on Friday evening the Seasider was still open. I’m glad to report their fish and chips are still very good. We found The Cornish Bakery a very handy place to have around the corner when you are busy doing things and don’t want to “down tools” for too long. I can’t resist one of their custard tarts every time I go there. And we met some friends who live in Exeter and had a very nice evening at The River Cottage Kitchen in Axminster. Tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere.The deli looked appealing too but sadly we were off the next morning so had no excuse to food shop.

And that was it for us. Hope you had a lovely Easter break too and didn’t eat too much chocolate? Our daughter got a lot and I think it is calling to me from the kitchen!

West Bay Beach Cleaning

Octopus on West Bay beach

Be part of the growing number of volunteers helping clean our beaches. Removing harmful plastics, bits of old fishing gear and all the other rubbish from our beaches is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution and protect marine wildlife. Pick up a piece of plastic and you ensure no fish or other marine animal can ever mistake it for food. Bin an old fishing line, rope or net before a seal or seabird gets tangled in it. Plus you get to help make the beaches more beautiful for everyone too.

West Bay Beach Clean Group

West Bay has a Beach Clean Group which runs regular beach cleans. We took part in one a while back. We scoured West Beach, filling a bin bag with a motley collection of bottles, bottle tops, plastic straws, bits of lost fishing gear, wrappers, tin cans and the like. Much of it was single-use plastic used to contain food and drink.

Visitors are very welcome to join in a beach clean. For info, places, dates and times see here.

Bio-Beads Plastic Pollution

West Bay Plastic PollutionOver the last year or so the West Bay Beach Clean Group has become particularly concerned about the numbers of tiny plastic pellets found washed up on the beaches during beach cleans. They found some nurdles, the raw material from which nearly all our plastic goods are made. They also found many bio-beads. These are a type of bead used in their billions in the treatment of waste water. They are only about 3.5mm diameter and so are quite hard to spot. Birds, fish and other marine animals often mistake them, and other small bits of plastic, for food. This can be fatal for the wildlife if the beads block their digestive system. Some of the bio-beads contain significant levels of toxins which again poses a risk to health.

Both Exmouth and Uplyme water treatment plants, run by South West Water, use billions of bio-beads to filter waste. The result is cleaner bathing water in the South West but the issue is when they escape. The company admit to a couple of major spillages in the past, including one in Cornwall ten years ago which spilled billion of the pellets into the sea. They say that they have taken steps, and continue to do so, to prevent beads escaping from their works. Sadly it does nothing to remedy the huge numbers out in the environment already.

This photo is taken from the West Bay Discovery Centre centre website here. It shows their collection of nurdles and bio-beads collected from West Bay Beach Clean sessions by the public.

#2minutebeachclean

#2minutebeachclean logoYou don’t need to wait for an organised beach clean to help keep the beaches cleaner. Writer, surfer and TV presenter Martin Dorey came up with the #2minutebeachclean concept, the idea to encourage people to spend just two minutes at a time picking up litter. A growing number of beach lovers are now helping rid the world’s beaches of marine litter and plastic pollution, two minutes at a time.

There is a network of over 500 Beach Clean Stations around the UK and Ireland. These are boards near beaches where you will find information, pickers and bags. They are proving really popular. A trial of a station at Bude in Cornwall found the amount of litter on the beach dropped by 60% within a year. West Bay has one.

The next time you are on the beach why not get involved and do your bit to help with ocean conservation? After all, it only takes a few minutes. You can take a picture of your marine litter haul on your phone and post it to Twitter or Instagram. Just hashtag your photos #2minutebeachclean #dorset.

On Your Bike In West Dorset

Downhill!

A great way to explore our local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is on a bicycle. I hesitate to write this as, fine as I am with cycling down a hill, I’m not keen on the going back up. I love the beauty of West Dorset’s rolling hills, just not when I am puffing up one of them on a bike. This isn’t helped by the sight of my husband and daughter disappearing into the distance ahead. But, if you are not such a wuss as me pedalling up slopes, cycling is a wonderful way to take in the stunning scenery. Explore the varied landscapes in West Dorset, and do it all at your own pace.

Suggested Cycle Routes In The Area

For inspiration have a look here at West Dorset Pedal. It’s got maps for five rides ranging from 11-17 miles. It also suggests pit stops for food and drink. Quite right. After all that pedalling you surely deserve to refuel in a village tea room or country pub. A good route if you are staying at our cottage is the first, exploring Bridport and Netherbury. It has an add-on to West Bay itself. Two other routes take in the Frome Valley and the beautiful villages and coast round Abbotsbury (the route ‘Land of Bone and Stone’). The other two explore West Dorset’s finest hill forts. You might want to print off a route or two before your holiday. 

From Bridport there is also easy access to the National Cycle Network Route No. 2 (a 30 mile route from Dorchester to Lyme Regis), also with plenty of lanes and villages to explore.

Local Places To Hire Bicycles

If you haven’t got the space or the inclination to bring your own bikes you can hire them nearby at Bridport Cycles at Symondsbury. There’s a cycle trail running from the shop in an 5 mile loop on private land. 

If you want to enjoy the beautiful countryside and not worry about making it up the next hill you can go on a guided electric bike tour. Now that sounds more my thing.

Bike Storage At Our Cottage

We have a new door on our garage which actually locks. This means that if guests want to bring bikes on holiday we can arrange for them to have a key to the garage to lock them away securely. Happy Cycling!

If you want more information on staying in our cottage please take a here or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Keep Safe When Booking Direct

Keep Calm and Book Direct

The other week I saw an Instagram link to a website offering Instax cameras at incredibly discounted prices. I hastily bought one, chuffed I’d got a great bargain. How happy my daughter would be unwrapping it on Christmas Day. My glee was short-lived. My credit card history showed I’d paid a weird company in Singapore. I started to worry. A bit of googling later I found the genuine Instax website with a warning page about fraudulent ones. I’d been scammed. The camera is never going to be delivered. I felt cross. Cross that people would do this to me and annoyed with myself for falling for it.

Fortunately it wasn’t a lot of money but the experience has brought home to me the potential risk of buying things on the internet. In the future I’ll be more wary before I press the ‘Proceed to Payment’ button. It has also prompted me to look into what you can do to keep safe when booking holiday accommodation online.

Fraud is rare but unfortunately does sometimes happen. It can happen whether you book through an Online Travel Agent (OTA) like Owners Direct or Airbnb, or book directly with the owner. Anyone can set up a listing on one of the OTAs in minutes, with no checks. A little longer and a bit more technical know-how and they can set up a basic website. The perception seems to be that you are safer booking through an OTA but arguably an owner with their own quality website is less likely to be fraudulent. They have taken the time and effort to set up a good website.

Ways To Protect Yourself

Protect yourself against fraud. Take due diligence no matter how you book. There are several things you can do before booking a property to check that it is genuine. Here are some tips:

  • Look through the website or listing thoroughly. Does it have plenty of information and decent pictures?
  • Check that email addresses match the property name and /or the web address.
  • Google the online presence of the property. Make sure all the details, photos and contact details are high quality and are the same everywhere.
  • Check social media. Is there a Facebook page for the property? Instagram is getting ever more popular these days. Has the owner verified the property on Google My Business? A scammer is unlikely to have set up much of a social media presence but a genuine owner will often make the effort.
  • Contact the owner. If a phone number is provided, give the owner a ring to have a chat about their property. Ask lots of questions. A genuine owner will be happy to answer and will have a good knowledge of their property and the area.

Use common sense. Is the price reasonable for the property and doesn’t sound too cheap perhaps? Are you feeling under pressure to book quickly? If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Thinking back to my dodgy camera website, a little voice in my head was telling me it sounded an unbelievable offer but I wanted to get that bargain quickly before they all sold out. So, don’t be like me, take your time and do some research. Most importantly, trust your instinct. If you feel uneasy, just walk away.

When it comes to handing over money many owners, ourselves included, can take credit cards, which gives you similar payment protection to that offered by the OTAs. Travel insurance also gives you added protection (check what is covered).

Keep Calm & Book Direct!

Please bear in mind that fraud is rare. The intention of this post isn’t to scare anyone away from looking to book direct. With no middlemen you save yourself a booking fee and owners don’t pay a hefty commission so they can ensure you get the best possible price. You support your independent holiday home owner too. It’s just a reminder to stay savvy to ensure you stay safe.

Hedgehogs In The Garden

Hedgehog Lover Plaque

Swains Row sometimes has prickly visitors, and I’m not talking about any of our cottage guests! If you go outside late in the evening in the warmer months you may see a hedgehog snuffling around in the front gardens. Number 4 is particularly keen on these spiky neighbours, as you can see above from this plaque on the front of their cottage.

Sadly the hedgehog population is in decline in Great Britain. We’ve lost a third of all our hedgehogs in the last ten years. Pesticide use, habitat loss and roads are all thought to be taking their toll on their numbers. To encourage hedgehogs into your garden you need to make sure they have a safe access in and out. Leave an area to go a bit wild with shrubs, long grass and log piles or compost heaps. You can also pop out a dish of cat or dog food and water each evening.

At the end of the front garden next door you can see a big a pile of apple tree twigs left there to encourage our spiky neighbours. Let’s hope they make a good foraging and nesting site for a hedgehog or two. Perhaps it’s home to a snoozing hedgehog at the  moment. A new arrival or two next summer would be lovely. I’ve just read that baby hedgehogs are called hoglets, a term introduced in the 1990s. Cute eh.