I’m drawn to the water. I became engaged next to an oil rig in the Arabian Gulf, married beside the boats in Weymouth Harbour, and toasted at a thirteenth century inn at Osmington Mills, where the cliffs overlook the English Channel and stories of contraband and shipwrecks are fodder for an active and hungry imagination.
It is no surprise to me that people want to write about the area. I do.
Dorset’s landscape is awe-inspiring, with magnificent views around the Jurassic coastline, sandy bays and secret coves; its history is rich with myths and legends and tales of smugglers. There is the abandoned World War Two village of Tyneham, and the dangerous, crashing waters of the Bill, to provide mystery and drama. And then there is Chesil Beach. I’ll tell you about her one day.
On a hillside not far away is the White Horse of Osmington, a depiction in limestone of a mounted King George the Third, who took many holidays in Weymouth. The sculpture was created in the King’s honour, but he was so upset that he was shown riding away from the town, he never returned.
Within the last week, following a gorse fire, we almost acquired a piebald. Thankfully, the fire was extinguished before too much damage occurred.
Not surprisingly, there are stories of the Giant’s magical fertility abilities, and folklore suggests that childless couples can increase their chances of fertility and conception by doing one of the following: dancing around a maypole erected upon the Giant, making love on top of his phallus or, for those women of a slightly less exhibitionistic nature, simply sleeping on him. Alone.
I will not be commenting on the effectiveness of these methods.
Recently, I learned that Enid Blyton was fond of Dorset and there is a suggestion that some scenes from her Famous Five books were based around Lulworth Cove. Certainly, this is plausible, as the Jurassic coastline is the perfect setting for an adventure.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Thomas Hardy, Dorset’s most famous author. I find it exciting to visit the places mentioned in his novels. Is that geeky? http://www.dorsets.co.uk/arts_and_crafts/hardy_wessex.htm
Having made the decision to base my novels in and around Weymouth and Portland, I hope I’m able to convey my love for the area in my story-telling.
I can understand why Dorset attracts authors and I can see how and why she creates writers.
What is it about your favourite place that inspires you?