Monday, 2 November 2009

A weekend in the DORSET PUDDLES Part 1

Over the half term weekend we went to Dorset for a break. It was a trip down memory lane for me. Most of my childhood was spent living in the South of France. However, when I was 14 years old (early 1980's), we moved to AFFPUDDLE in Dorset. Where? I hear you say. I agree, it is a funny name, the whole area is full of funny names with puddle or piddle being part of the name. The River Piddle runs through Affpuddle. In fact, Affpuddle was once known as Affpiddle.
Affpuddle is a very nice hamlet with lovely houses & thatched cottages.

Affpuddle is situated between Puddletown and Bere regis. (Click on photo to enlarge the map)

For the first six months I REALLY did not like it there at all! Too much of a contrast with living in the South of France (Monte-Carlo & Cannes). Not long after we moved to Affpuddle, I recall going to the little shop in the neighbouring village of Briantspuddle. As I walked out of the shop, two men were sitting on the doorstep. One of them said: 'That's the foreigner' in quite a strong Dorset accent. There was no attempt at being discreet!

I remember thinking how rude!!! I was not impressed and couldn't wait to go back and tell my parents how rude people where here! On other occasions we would be stared at as if we have landed from Mars, no hello, just starring and muttering. Oh how I missed France! I have to say that I did not experience that with any of our immediate neighbours who were all very nice. It seemed to happen when we were out and about.

Thirty years ago things were different then, anyone who was not from Dorset was an outsider or a "Grockle" is the term some locals use/used. Things weren't as cosmopolitan as they are now. Now people travel more and are more used to outsiders. This is fair to say of some other parts of the UK too.

I eventually settled and Affpuddle became one of my favourite places to live! I discovered a different way of life, rural life, the countryside and a slower pace of life. Cycling along the country lanes, something which we where not able to do where we lived previously. Affpuddle still remains a very special place to me, unfortunately we only lived there for 3 years but I have some wonderful memories including an idyllic snowy Christmas.

If I had to choose between living in the South of France or Affpuddle, I would choose Affpuddle. Surprised, shocked & stunned? Especially after what I said about how I felt upon arriving here? I still very much like the South of France and am very lucky to have lived where I did. However, life out there can be quite artificial, Affpuddle is real, down to earth and wholesome.

Fancy having a little tour around this lovely village?

The house I lived in was previously owned by an elderly lady called Joan Brocklebank, the author of "Affpuddle in the County of Dorset". When we moved in, she left a copy of her book for us to have.

An illustration from the book

St Laurence's Church

The Old Vicarage

In the 1990's the Old Vicarage was a B&B. After we left Dorset, my sister and I would stay here from time to time for a weekend break to reminisce and visit friends and old neighbours. Sadly, it is no longer a B&B as the couple who owned it moved. It was such a beautiful house to stay in!

Proudly put up inside the Church

Illustration from the book ( That is one of the views we had from our house)

and so was this view. Another illustration from the book. The foreground shows some of the garden that belongs to the house. I was lucky enough to have that view from one of my bedroom windows.

Walking towards the house which I used to live in on the left

Here is where I used to live. So little has changed from what I could see, apart from the windows which are now PVC. ;-( I prefer the ones we had then, wooden ones with small square panels ( just like the window shown on the very last photo of this post)

Looking back

Lovely name for a cottage

Views from Affpuddle

A cottage for sale! Very tempting...

Turning back and making our way back to the Church where we parked our car.

Had to have another look of course! I so wanted to have a peak at the lovely large garden around the house. Just to know if it was all laid out as before...

This cottage is almost opposite where I lived.

Back to the entrance of the village.

We then headed for BRIANTSPUDDLE where we stayed in a B&B

The next day we woke up to a lot of wind and rain outside. Luckily it cleared up by late morning. This meant a lot of walking and exploring but that's all my next post...

Thank you for letting me ramble on and reminisce about my past! ;-))

A bientôt!

Isabelle x


Niki Fretwell said...

Hi Isabelle,
How lovely - you must have had a wonderful time returning to your roots and remembering what it was that triggered your love of the countryside...
The photos are all so pretty...yes, the thatched cottage is very tempting, isn't it?

Funnily enough, whilst holidaying in the south of France, we have been stared at and pointed at by locals, even recently...seems three blonde girls (my daughters) certainly turn heads down there... My girls were really very embarrassed, bless them.

Have a lovely week,
Niki x

BusyLizzie said...

What a beautiful place! Thank you for sharing it with us. You would have enjoyed the "Axbridge Experience" this weekend. It is a delightful & I was bowled over by the friendly people & gorgeous houses in the main street.. there was even one for sale! Lizzie x

Lululiz said...

What a wonderful trip down memory lane.

The Curious Cat said...

Aw so like me you went back this holiday to visit the place you used to does look seriously nice. After realising there is little hope of living in my old town in the US it brings a smile to my face to see there are similiar little village communities in the UK...oh I must, must flee London soon! xxx

The Curious Cat said...

Aw so like me you went back this holiday to visit the place you used to does look seriously nice. After realising there is little hope of living in my old town in the US it brings a smile to my face to see there are similiar little village communities in the UK...oh I must, must flee London soon! xxx

Floss said...

Wonderful! My favourite name of all is Piddletrenthide. (We grew up in Devon but my dad worked for a time in Pool, so we were frequently in that area). I can see that it must have been wonderful to live there.

If it's any consolation, we are still knowh here as 'les anglais', although indivuidually I have been described as 'la maman au velo'!

Bertie Meadows said...

Hello Isabelle, what a wonderful trip down memory lane for you. It's looks like such a beautiful place to live, the name alone makes you smile. To have your childhood view and home, immortalised in a book is very special indeed. Thank you for sharing.
Bertie x

Michela said...

The history of your life is so fascinating! Thank you for sharing your happy memories!

Les Cotrions said...

Hello Isabelle! So many memories for you!!! This village with such a funny name looks so pretty! I adore your countryside!!! And I love south of France either!
Happy new week!

Mr Jones said...

Hey Isabelle.. I too adore that area - Hardy country - I was down in Bridport this Summer and loved it.. especially the beach on Eype... And Hix Resto in Lyme was awesome in fact I think I reviewed it all on and all those quaint thatched houses and old church. old england at its best. Btw - Have you been to Kingston Lacy.. such amazing art. Better than some museums.

bellaboo said...

How lovely to revisit your childhood home with all those memories.We love Dorset and have stayed there many times.We love the little villages of Piddlehinton,near Dorchester,and Sydling St Nicolas.


Laura @ 52 FLEA said...

Hello Isabelle,
It was lovely to travel with you and to see all these places and sights that are so dear to you. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!
Take care, Laura

Unknown said...

Hi Isabelle! Well if you'd choose Affpuddle over the south of France it must be pretty special! The pictures are really lovely!! Glad you had a nice visit!

:) T

Sal said...

Lovely memories,Isabelle!
Thank you for such an interesting tour!

KC'sCourt! said...

Lovely blog.

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Yay long live Affpuddle and all your beautiful memories of it. I do love to visit places other peolple love, it gives the freshest warmth and perspective to all that you see. Thank you Isabelle,

Love Sarah x

Joanne said...

Hello Isabelle,

What a lovely post and some gorgeous photo's.
I want to say a big thank you for reminding me what a beautiful part of the coutry I live near to. I

Can't wait for your next post.

LiLi M. said...

Beautiful post! You know what? You should be sponsored by the British tourist organisation or by the National Trust. I can see very clearly why you prefer Affpuddle above the South of France! Have a nice day, I am already looking forward to see more of the Dorset Puddles!

Pink Feather Paradise said...

I have often driven through these places but I have never stopped to look properly... maybe next time I will be in less of a hurry and take time to notice the beauty that is all around me...

thanks for sharing Alex

Sue said...

I've never seen so many Puddles in one post! Thanks for sharing your lovely pics. The village looks remarkably like a larger version of ours here in Oxfordshire, all thatch and gorgeous gardens.

Sue xx

Thedarkerside73 said...

What a lovely place to have spent some of your childhood in. Such pretty houses. Ahh that cottage for sale well one can dream......... lol.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I suppose that can be the thing with any small community, People get a bit spooked by change or anyone different. I know of some places near where I live that can still be a bit like that.

Lovely photos.


elsy said...

there's nothing quite like an english village is there......wonderful

Katie said...

What a fabulous post! I really enjoyed your tour of Affpuddle (such a great name) and hearing about your idyllic Seeing all your photos has made me want to live in a village even more now! Katie x

Victoria - Florence and Mary said...

It certainly does look lovely and I love the sound of Puddle Cottage - what a great blog name that would be too!

Victoria xx

Charlotte said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to put together such a lovely, pretty post. I am going to have to show it to my mother now who is an absolute sucker for thatched anything!!

Really lovely... and thanks for the little bio too!

Love Charlotte

maría cecilia said...

Hi Isabelle, thank you so much for sharing some of your life story, so many life memories coming back to you over that lovely village.
Muchos cariños
María Cecilia

Julies Knit Stitch Corner said...

A very enjoyable post thank you for sharing this wonderful story and pictures with us. best wishes. Julie.C

Anna said...

Such a beautiful place and that cottage for sale, very tempting indeed!

Anna x

Susie's country cottage said...

The South of France...ooh I love it too although I have only been for hols there a couple times. I'm not surprised you found it difficult to live in England but Dorset is a beautiful county and it must have been interesting for you to visit all your old haunts. It is funny how places eventually grow on you.

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Dear Isabelle,
I treasure these posts as I know so many other people from around the world do! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to live in that vicarage. How Miss Marple is Affpuddle? I love the way that when you have grown, your values changed so the little village becomes of more value than the South of France. I am so glad your parents did move to Affpuddle so we could enjoy visiting it too! I wish you and your husband would combine and do a wonderful book for us to purchase of your lovely trips! I hope you have a lovely week. We are very busy here still moving! It has been a real treat to sit down with a cup of tea and visit charming Affpuddle! xx

Brabourne Farm said...

Love all your gorgeous photos. This is such a beautiful part of the world. I remember visiting a beautiful National Trust property on the River Piddle but can't remember its name! Leigh

Diane said...

Ramble on all yuou like lovey - that was gorgeous. You are so lucky to have lived in such beautiful and glamourous places

Andi's English Attic said...

Thank you for sharing those lovely photos of such a beautiful place. I lived for a short while in Cornwall and my neighbours there had travelled no further than the borders of Cornwall, so in some places people haven't changed at all. xx

Yiota said...

What a beautiful, beautiful place! I've been scrolling up and down the page for some time now.I can't wait to see the next post!

Carole said...

Thank you for reminiscing about your childhood. It's always so enjoyable to learn more about you Isabel. I wonder sometimes what my life would be if my parents had stayed in France....????
ps.....Love that thatched roof cottage too!

A Bun Can Dance said...

Hi Isabelle!
Thank you for your lovely comment on my "November" post! I've really enjoyed reading about your trip to the Puddles - I don't know those villages at all. But isn't Dorset the most lovely of counties? It seems to have everything - stunning countryside, beautiful coastline and lovely little towns too. We are lucky to live so near to Dorset, don't you think?
It must be very strange for you to go and see your previous home and wish to look around but, of course, unable to. This has never happened to me because in my lifetime my family have only lived in 2 houses, and the first one is now my Aunty's house - so I still have that sense of it 'belonging' to our family, and it is only a mile from my parents home!
Wouldn't it be lovely if society was more free and friendly and you could just go knock on the door of your old home and ask to look around?
Anyway, I have wittered on! Thank you for this lovely photo-filled trip to Dorset!
Happy days to you
Denise x

lizzie-at-the-old-vic said...

Hi Isabelle,
An Affpuddle neighbour has just directed me to your charming blog which I have enjoyed reading.
I am lucky enough to have lived in The Old Vicarage since 1998 (and I'm so sorry it's not still a B & B!) so thank you for your kind words and photos. Incidentally, the picture from Joan Brocklebank's book is not of our house but East Farm House which is still owned by the Debenham family, as was most of Affpuddle and Briantspuddle during the first half of the 1900's when Sir Ernest Debenham embarked on a model farm experiment.
I'm so glad you have good memories of your time here. I feel especially blessed to live here as my maternal grandmother was born in Tolpuddle, just a mile away, where her father helped his brother work the mill. I picture her cycling past this house when it would still have been the Vicarage, never imagining that her granddaughter would be living here one day!
Like the author of a previous comment, my parents still live in the house I was born in (in Dorset) in the 1940's, so I have not had to do that revisiting bit, but if you come back again please knock on the door and make yourself known. Like you I would prefer Dorset as a place to live to the south of France, although Provence does have its charm....!!
I shall follow your blog from time to time as, apart from Affpuddle we share a love of vintage clothes and fabrics.
With love from Affpudle