A Friday afternoon in mid February. After one of the wettest, greyest weeks, the sun came out at last. We needed a good walk and some sea air. We drove down to the coast at Bournemouth and walked through the gardens that follow the Bourne Stream down towards the sea.
The valley garden of pines, palms and municipal flower beds is overlooked by Art Deco shops, department stores and apartments. Victorian and Edwardian hotels border the green space. Bournemouth began its life as a holiday resort in Victorian times, so the architecture is all relatively modern. Before the developers moved in, there were a wild, pine sheltered valleys, called chines, surrounded by heathland, and the promise of beautiful sandy beaches below the cliffs of Poole Bay.
Bergenia was in flower beside a landscaped pool.
The Bournemouth Balloon, which hovers, tethered by ropes, above the town on weekend days and holidays. Tickets are not cheap, but a balloon flight is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Spring flowers cheered up the garden beside the stream.
At the valley`s end, the Bourne Stream flows underground to meet the sea, not far from Bournemouth Pier. People were wrapped up against the cold, enjoying a walk along the promenade or a drink in an outdoor cafe. Dogs and small children played on the sand. Music from the carousel, with its painted gallopers, brightened the air.
A wood pigeon found a warm perch above the vent from a fish and chip restaurant.
We decided to turn towards the east, walking and taking photographs along the promenade.......
...and from a clifftop path.
Black headed gulls were beginning to show their breeding plumage.....
.........as they wheeled and scrapped over a morsel of food on the sand.
The Russell Coates Museum on the clifftop. Below, and renovated, are some of the earliest beach huts in Britain.
Steep cliffs are a green, wild haven for birds and other wildlife. Sand lizards and common lizards can sometimes be seen basking on hot summer days. Sand martins fly home from Africa each spring, to nest in holes in sandy cliff faces.
A series of zig zag paths ascend the cliffs. We climbed up one and down another, to watch a calm sea washing the sand while afternoon light dropped towards early sunset across the shining Bay.