Is Dorset the new Tuscany?

SOMEWHERE between Martinstown and Upwey lies a beautiful land. It’s peopled by terracotta cows, lime-green meadows, and squatting little trees that, if you squint, look like they might bear olives.

It’s the light that gives rise to such fancy – low, golden, pouring itself over fields, like honey. The scene is so delicious that despite the disapproving stares of cows, you want to fling yourself right at it and roll amongst the waving grass.

It feels as though I’ve drunk from a cup of joy. And yes, it feels lazy, hazy and lusty, like a film set, like that bit out of A Room With A View when Lucy Honeychurch is briefly clutched to the breast of George Emerson, in a field, in Florence.

You can’t enjoy the countryside without getting a little dirty, quoth another film, the determinedly English comedy Tamara Drewe, which last year stole the hearts of city dwellers for its backdrop of lush green rolling hills. The director, Stephen Frears, described our Dorset countryside (wot stole the show) as ‘the new Tuscany’. (He ruffled a few feathers. Locals didn’t want him to encourage even more rich townies to come down here and buy our houses and marry our women and steal our jobs. Not that they need to work, but anyway.)

Frears didn’t film here. As far as I can make out, the nearest he got was the cows and woods at Larkham Farm, Holywell, near Dorchester.

I found this cheeky young 'un trying to lick the boughs off a tree.

It’s just as well. We don’t want any Thomasina, dickhead or Harriet soiling our idyll. One of the best-kept secrets of Dorset countryside is that more often than not, it’s a solitary joy. You can keep it to yourself, with never a soul to bother you – perhaps a dog walker or two, but they’re quickly gone.

Anyway, the Tuscany metaphor has well and truly fizzled out now. I can’t convince myself that these are vineyards. And above a gently rearing tumulus, our quicksilver coastal skies have really given the game away. They’re looming in more of a Turner grey fashion, rather than Tuscan blue. I’ve forgotten my umbrella. It’s time to go.

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2 thoughts on “Is Dorset the new Tuscany?

  1. THank you for showing Dorset to be such a delightful county. Yes, it is beautiful. It is refreshing to think it could be the new Tuscany. Or shall we just say that Dorset is so unique that it can only be Dorset!

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