Chilling out at Chesil Cove

WE taste the salt on our lips as soon as we sit down.

Portland is a pale blonde streak of pebbles bleached by time and tide. The sea’s a deep and heart-stopping blue. This is Chesil Cove, although as the sun beats down, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an off-duty Maldive.

We sit under the sea wall, currently being shored up by Defra, munching an impromptu picnic of sandwiches and strawberries. We squint seawards – what we think is a seal turns out to be a cormorant, diving for fish.

The Cove House Inn, which hosts a raucous music festival (big cider fest) over the summer bank holiday, is one of our favourite watering holes. We last came here to watch the sun sink into Lyme Bay during the summer solstice.

We fall silent, drinking in the simple joys of sky, sea, and shore in all their stripey glory.

Oh, and gulls. Don’t forget the gulls – they revel in it almost as much as we do.

I think this is where I fell in love with the sea. My mum brought me and my brother here one stormy, stormy day. We were little, and it was well over two decades before the catchphrase ‘Jurassic Coast‘ was coined. We chased the waves and listened in awe to the undertow sucking the pebbles away – loud as a jet engine.

It seems quietly amazing to think we’re sat where the Chesil Beach starts, right here, on our doorstep.

To our right, it stretches out for 18 miles, past the Fleet Lagoon, Abbotsbury, Burton Bradstock, to West Bay.

The West Weares rise up to our left, terraced into the Chiswell Earthworks sculpture created by John Maine. Beach huts are studded into the hill.

Behind us hunches higgledy-piggledy Chiswell, rugged, secretive, strangely seductive. Not for the first time, we think we’d like to live here.

Lured by the chance to win a wedding with all the trimmings – flowers, photography, catering, civil ceremony – we’ve just been to scope out Portland Castle as a venue for our own upcoming nuptials. I wish we could get married here, on the beach, standing looking out to sea on the large flat pebbles, with the wind in our hair, hearing the gulls’ cries on the wind.

We bask in the sunlight and discuss ideas, in no great hurry. Like the song says, we have all the time in the world.

As we drive off Portland we see two riders and horses galloping, galloping half way up the island. It’s a wild and wonderful sight.


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