Leave your home, lock the door, and never come back.

We’re coming up for our busiest period of the year at Webtogs right now, and getting outside has had to take a back seat whilst we get things ready for Christmas. Saturday though was a rare treat, a day out with the family. Dorset doesn’t have much in the way of real wilderness, it’s pretty much tractor land where we live, with a few too many posh houses for my liking and lots of agriculture. Dartmoor, Exmoor & the Brecons are the most logical wild options close by to, us but today saw Cath take us off to the one really wild option we have within the county – the coast. So we got up, got the caffeine going, strapped our boots on, got in to the car and headed southwards to Tyneham.

The village itself has a hell of a story having been abandoned since the end of the second world war, when the army requisitioned it for training for D day towards the end of 1943. There are a couple of other villages that have also suffered a similar fate, though for different reasons such as Derwent in the Peak District and Imber on Salisbury plain. They all evoke strong responses in people for lots of reasons, but for me, the emotions are stirred by the fact that houses some families had called home will never be so again. We drove through the Purbeck hills searching for the bluster of sea air when we came up the hill overlooking the village. Although the village was emptied to train troops for the D Day landings, after the war, the army held on to the land, and the villagers were not allowed back in. As a result, the village can only be accessed on certain weekends as it remains part of an army firing range. When you approach it, there are rather a lot of signs and flags warning you that you can get yourself blown up if you are not careful. I think that always adds a certain frisson to a walk, knowing that you are walking on land which you can’t usually traipse upon, and that you could find something that goes boom…..

Military firing range warning

It had been a beautiful start to the day though, so we drew up in to the car park at Tyneham with anticipation of a great stroll. Our route was a 2 mile walk and we hoped that Ifor, our 3 year old, would walk the whole way as we want to build up his stamina. Driving in to the village was a little underwhelming as you cannot see too many abandoned buildings. We togged up though, and headed off. I tweeted yesterday that bad weather is great for making you feel alive. We had no rain for Saturday however with the Sun gracing us for the most part, but the wind was strong, ever present, and the recent hours spent in front of a screen were blown away rapidly, leaving me with energy for the short trail ahead.

To the sea

There are many calculations for distance covered based on incline, weather etc, none however that allow for distance covered with a child. Based on Saturdays experience, I think 1 hour 15 mins per mile is about accurate! With Ellis on my back, we took a leisurely pace to the beach interrupted by the last Blackberries of autumn, puddles, rusting tanks and lots more puddles for Ifor. The sea swung in and out of view as we passed through through Tyneham valley. Large numbers on each hill and the occasional hunk of metal reminded us we were on MOD land, and it wasn’t long before we were at the beach. It’s been a while since I have been to the coast, and it was great to be reminded just how noisy waves crashing on a pebble beach can be. There is something incredibly wild about the Jurassic coast, so we spent some time just letting the sights, sounds and smells soak in.

Looking out over Tyneham bay.

Tyneham bay towards Lulworth

Looking down the coast to Werth Matravers & Kiddiminster

Cliffs above Tyneham

A biscuit, glug of milk, and we were off back up the cliff path back towards the village. We were rather glad to have Ifor’s littlelife animal daypack as the path ran rather too close to the cliffs, and the reigns were invaluable in keeping him by us. The path along the cliffs saw the sun come out, and we had beautiful views down the coast to Kimmeridge and Worth Matravers. Finally back at the car park, a rather tired Ifor & Ellis woolfed their lunches down, before we wandered off to have a look around the remains of the village. Spooky was the order of the day, particularly the schoolhouse which has been restored, and the graveyard of the church. Generations of families lay beneath the salty turf, yet no burials for 60 + years made it even more sombre than your average graveyard.

The farm stables in Tyneham

Tyneham church

Tyneham school

Heads lolling in the back of the car from the two boys, we headed home after a great stretch. Walking on the Dorset coast is fantastic, but adding the history and emotion present in Tyneham made it a day out that will stay with us for a while. If you want to take a look at all the photos we took, click here for our flickr stream of Tyneham.

Three traffic jams, a wedding and a birthday. That’ll be a bank holiday then.

Three traffic jams, a wedding and a birthday. That’ll be a bank holiday then.

Traffic. Just the word can make my blood pressure rise and we had a belly full of it this weekend.We’ve always been careful to avoid bank holiday rushes when we can, but this weekend saw my mate Rajen getting married at the Oshwal centre near Enfield. We hit the first of our traffic jams on the way up, arriving late at the wedding.  He’s a Hindu, and although we have been to one other Hindu wedding, it was a while ago and we certainly hadn’t been with kids before. As a result, we were unsure what to expect. We were though made to feel warmly welcome by one old codger who looked after us. It helped that there was a scroll for everyone that detailed what exactly was happening at each part of the ceremony, but this guy also took time to show us around the temple as well.

Several things stood out for me at the ceremony. Firstly, they served Ice Cream during the service. You read right folks, a delicious vanilla and pistachio combination which considering the room was warm, was a piece of genius. We had two, Ifor guzzled one in about 2 minutes flat and promptly went outside looking for more. The ceremony was long, probably around 3 hours or so and hopping in and out was fine and dandy. I found out more about the particular type of Hinduim, or Jain Oshwals whilst there, their adherence to non-violence, respect for life and different cultures striking a chord with my Quaker values.

On one of our trips out to let Ifor burn off the energy that a three year old miraculously accrues, the chap we had got talking to came out and offered to take us across to look at the new temple they had built. Frankly, it was jaw droppingly beautiful, and delightfully different to see something so Indian in Englands green and pleasant fields. The pink stone used picked up the sun gently, and the intricate carvings were stunning, offset beautifully by the simple green of the gardens.

Sadly, we didn’t have the camera with us so we have a lack of photos, but inside was just as impressive with white marble and the detailed carvings on both the doors and the walls speaking of the time and effort that had gone in to it. All the work conveyed the deep sense of spirituality involved, and it was a good place to stop and reflect quietly with my family. Not that Ifor really understands the words “quiet” just now. So it was back to the wedding, and we took our leave at the end as the boys got hungry. It was with this journey that we hit the second traffic jam, not too bad, but not great when we were tired from the day. It was a relief when we wended our way back to Maidstone to see Mum, and chill out before heading up to London on the Friday to visit little bro.

It had been his birthday on the Thursday and we had hatched a surprise with his other half to turn up un-announced which we duly did. Loving the look on his face, we headed out for an early lunch at Eat 17. Both the previous day and lunch summed up the things I miss about London, it’s multicultural heart and food! Having the chance to catch up with my nearest and dearest was also priceless. We figured on getting an early get away to avoid the traffic so at 1:30 we hit the road. What should have been a 2.5 hour journey then turned in to a 7 hour mission from Hades. Heading along the north bit of the M25 we encountered a car park, the boys thankfully sleeping through most of it due to their exertions. 3 hours in and we made the junction for the M4 at which point we decided it was enough for that game of skittles and drove slowly down the M4. The traffic began to clear, our thoughts turned to actually getting home and we strode off down the A350 stopping every 200 metres for Ifor to do a wee. Did I forget to tell you we were potty training Ifor too? How silly of me.

Driving past Warminster, we stopped in to Focus to look at a kitchen, at which point Nookie, our ever trusty Honda Accord, decided that enough was enough and promptly wouldn’t start. How a) Cath and I didn’t have the mother of all arguments and b) our Children didn’t melt down was beyond me, but an hour later by the grace of Green Flag we were on our way home. Bruv, I love you, but don’t expect a visit on the Bank Holiday ever again…….

On being a man

One guy whose blog and tweets I have been enjoying a lot of over the last couple of months, is a chap called Matt Edmuson . He has a strong faith, a keen interest in business and is an engaging read. A couple of days ago he asked the question “what is it to be a man? It’s something that has pre-occupied me for a large part of my life. It’s taken on even more resonance now that I am a father, and especially as we are so lucky to have two lovely boys – what sort of men will they grow up to be? What will be their idea of a man?

I want to keep this brief as it’s something I can rattle on about for days, but it seems to me that Women have been on a journey for some time now, and Men have been lagging behind in honestly looking at what it means to be a bloke. Women have had perhaps more pressure from Men, as to what Men want them to be, as well as responding to their own view of themselves. Converesly, I think Men have more pressure from ourselves as Men to conform to existing paradigms. For us, being confident, strong, un-emotional, taciturn, or aggressive are traits we learn and feel pressure to be from other men, rather than as external pressures to confirm to from society in general. Traits that do not confirm to these are frowned upon. Until we can ignore the pressure from other men, we will never be able to shift what it is to be a man I feel.

So Matt, in answer to your question, for me personally, being a man is whatever you are – whether you are a loving, listening, playful, musical, enthusiastic or rugby playing action man. Being a man is being honest with yourself in accepting who you are, and not simply accepting the roles handed down to us.

Bumboo Poo’s

Bumboo Poo’s

Ellis is the kind of lad that really doesn’t like to lie down. Anyone who has been around him will know he likes to be cuddled and held, lying down is simply not an option. We decided to get him a Bumbo as a result, a rather natty contraption that keeps your baby sitting upright.

Not our baby, honest

We have been really happy with this but I feel honour bound to warn other parents of the one peril of this contraption – the Bumbo poo. Basically, sittinging in that position has the same effect as a couple of bowls of allbran. Combine that with the fact that the bubmbo holds your baby tightly to keep them upright, means the Poo has then nowhere to go. It leads to some fairly explosive results. The moral of this story is, buy a Bumbo by all means, but at the first sign of any rumblings, you need to move faster than a Jedi to a lightsaber.

Clearing out the crud

We’re well on our way to clearing out the house prior to our move hopefully in a months time. Boxes of books made their way to the charity shops in Gill high street, and multiple engagements with the lovely old volunteers have left me pondering a change of hair cut to a blue rinse

To aid the cleansing process, we have engaged the E bay button to flog the rest of our useless priceless posessions. Who would have thought a broken 4th Generation iPod would actually get bids? I’m beginning to regret throwing out the Sony E800 with broken screen and missing battery. I also phoned my mum up to have a go at her for getting rid of my Action man when I was 10 that had a leaky battery as I reckon I could have sold that too. Pfff

Anyway, enough warbling, if you want an air-conditioner, broken 4th gen iPod, climbing shoes or maternity clothes etc, head here to snap up a piece of jonesnow history. It’s not like we are trying to sell a dead fairy or anything….

All new Jonesnow

Welcome to the all new Jonesnow site. We got a bit fed up with updating the old site and so have moved all the photos to flickr and are going to use this blog to give occasional updates about er, stuff.

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