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