IT’S boiling hot in Bridport and I’m sweating out 20 units of alcohol.
Poking round the vintage market, we earmark fifties lampshades and kitsch sideboards for our dream home. But then I get the shakes, and need to get to a pub fast for a hair of the dog.
We decide to head for the Ilchester Arms in Abbotsbury – but trucking through Burton Bradstock, I insist we take a sharp right at the sign for the Hive Beach Cafe. I’ve never been before – and they serve cream teas…
Bowling up to the National Trust car park, a glittery blue sea spreads before us. My heart expands with joy. But then it sinks – because as we approach the cafe patio, every table is taken.
Hopefully, we hover, willing people to hurry up and leave. Then bingo – a couple stand up and a table right at the front, overlooking the beach, is ours. We pounce – and it’s like sitting on a hotel balcony in the Mediterranean.
The menu is perfectly local (seafood with a novel twist – Lyme Bay shark, anyone?) As AA Gill has raved about the Hive Beach Cafe’s retro seaside vibe, we stick with tradition and order cream teas for two. (I also pile pots of olives and crayfish tails on the tray, along with two glasses of wine).
And – apart from the wasps making a beeline for our strawberry jam – it’s utter heaven.
After lunch we go for a quick walk on the beach, swarming with families on the first weekend of the school holidays. Crowning the sandstone cliffs is Billy Bragg‘s sprawling Victorian villa, and the dilapidated Burton Cliff Hotel: a dead ringer for the scene of a Poirot drama.
The breeze is warm as we climb to the top, and the Semillion Chardonnay has re-energised me. I am skipping along, captivated by the beauty of the coastline’s jagged hemline below us.
We’re kicking ourselves for not bringing beach gear and decide to head back to Weymouth for a swim, via a quick circular walk round Burton Bradstock village. We find a gorgeous little cat writhing ecstatically on a roof next to Mrs Jam Jar’s house (so named, because she sells chutneys and eggs and all manner of tasty things on a table outside).
Honesty boxes abound in Burton Bradstock – residents are flogging courgettes, grapefruit marmalade, dahlias and sweetcorn, even greetings cards. The village is very quiet – some are sunning themselves under big hats in bigger back gardens, but we are not sure where the rest are – unless, of course, they’re down the beach.
We mosey back to Greenhill in Weymouth. I swim for half a mile, out to the rafts, and feel the sea wash away the last dregs of my hangover. I feel human again.