Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Christchurch in Winter Sunshine

After so many days of rain and grim, grey skies, this morning dawned as bright and sunny as a late spring day. This afternoon I drove down the Avon Valley road to Christchurch, and walked through the lanes near the Priory Church, towards the harbour quay.

Nineteenth century cottages, where the people who worked in the town and on the water once lived, are spruced and painted in pastel shades.

Looking back towards the High Street, the ruins of the Norman castle keep still tower above the shops and cottages.

The cottages are mixed in style, reflecting their ages. Bow fronted Victorian , pastel painted Georgian and earlier thatched roofed houses line the narrow lanes.

Winter trees in the garden of The Red House Museum.

The grand, red bricked vicarage of the Priory Church.

The Red House Museum, once a private house, is on the left of the street.

A kissing gate into the churchyard.

The tower of the Priory Church.

Christchurch Priory Church, as fine and almost as large as a small cathedral, viewed from the south.

The pretty old cottage to the west of the Church tower.

Sunlight on bark......

....and a squirrel quarreling with its neighbour .

I walked through a gate in the old brick wall and there was the River Stour, its birds and its bobbing small boats beside the quay.

Yachts raised out of water for the winter.

To the south and east, a view across Christchurch Harbour to the marshland at Hengistbury Head. Behind this lies the sea, and the shining white chalk of the cliffs and The Needles of the Isle of Wight.

Swans paddled the green water beside the quay, or waddled across the grass to beg for food.

Black Headed Gulls are regaining their black heads. A sure sign that spring is not so far away.

A coot feeds in floating weed......

....but look what the tide brought in!

Along the riverside........

....small rowing boats are full of water from the recent rain.

The Stour Ferry.....

....and the other side of the river, in the village of Wick.

I walked beside the River Stour, almost to the bridge, and then turned back towards the town.
People of all ages were out beside the water, or walking on the grassy field called The Quomps. Faces were turned upwards, soaking up the warm afternoon sun.

An "Ugly Duckling" is almost an adult swan.

Families were feeding the birds.

At mooring in the river.

The old stone bridge by the mill stream, where water from the River Avon rushes through towards Place Mill.

Place Mill....

The space where the great wooden mill wheel turned.

I turned away from the quay, refreshed and feeling so much better after time beside the water. Taking photos slows me down, so I put the camera away and entered the garden through wrought iron gates. It was time for a brisk walk beside the Avon and back into the town, before I left on the Valley road and drove through rain soaked fields and heathland, heading for home.


Karen said...

Thank you so much for the tour. What I wouldn't give to come to see it in person. Thatched roofs, buildings dating back to the 11th century, the River Avon (Shakespeare!) and a hippopotamus. Lucky you to be in such a wonderful place.

ChrisJ said...

The old stone bridge is an especially nice picture with different shapes, items and textures. A lovely walk!

Bovey Belle said...

What a LOVELY walk. Keith and I will definitely go to Christchurch when we're down this year. That bit of sunshine did us all the world of good I reckon.

The Weaver of Grass said...

So enjoyed your walk - thanks for taking us on it. I can't believe the colour of that sky.

Dartford Warbler said...

The sky was just as deep a blue again today. Such a wonderful change from last week!

Karen - our River Avon is the Wiltshire/Hampshire Avon that runs southwards from the chalk downlands just north of Salisbury. It meets the River Stour, a Dorset river, in the sheltered harbour at Christchurch.

The River Avon that runs through Stratford Upon Avon, Shakespeare`s birthplace, flows through the English Midlands and joins the River Severn at Tewksbury in Gloucestershire.

There is yet another River Avon in the West Country, that flows through Bath and Bristol, eventually joining the sea in the Bristol Channel at Avonmouth.

The name Avon comes from the Welsh, Afon, which means River, which might explain why it is such a popular name. The River River....!

Morning's Minion said...

That was a wonderful tour. A sunny, blue sky day in mid-winter is such an encouragement.
You always share interesting photos. As I read this post I found myself thinking that I should print out a UK map and use colored markers to dot the places that are mentioned by my blogging friends.

Morning's Minion said...

I had to return and ask about the hippopotamus: what is it doing in a an English river?
Are they common?

WOL said...

I notice several of the old brick buildings (the red museum and the old mill) have dark X's on them that appear to be pieces of metal bolted to the wall -- is this some kind of structura brace? "Mentioned in the Doomsday Book" -- I hear stuff like that and it just blows me away thinking how much history has gone by since then. There's nothing in this town that's over 150 years old, except the dirt!

Dartford Warbler said...

Morning`s Minion - The hippo is not a real one! I`m not sure what he is made of and I don`t know when he appeared, but he was not there when I used to take my boys, when they were little, to see the swans. He makes a good resting place for the seabirds while they wait by the quay to be fed. I expect that a real hippo would have died of hypothermia in the recent freezing weather!

Marking a map of Britain would be interesting. I have thought of doing the same with a map of the US.

WOL - Yes, the metal braces help to hold the old walls together.
Christchurch is a very old town. There were Bronze Age settlements on nearby hills. Some years ago, an amazingly well preserved Saxon graveyard was excavated during the building of a new shopping mall.

Kath said...

I really did a double-take at the hippo LOL
Lovely photos, you feel like spring is coming.

Goosey said...

Lovely pictures, I have walked round those places many times especially when we were courting 30 years ago! We haven't walked round there recently though...maybe it's time to retrace our steps!

Jane said...

Gorgeous pics - I am so envious of your 'winter' lol. I'm literally past my knees in the fluffy stuff here in Alberta - the city crews were just in and now the snow piles are 8 feet high in spots, so I enjoyed this tour very much.

Rowan said...

Christchurch looks a lovely and interesting place,it's a part of the world I've never visited up to now. Place Mill looks especially interesting, definitely my kind of place. I was quite surprised to see a hippo in Dorset though:):)