Swanage, on the Isle of Purbeck, in Dorset

This entry is part 12 of 25 in the series London & Dorset, UK

We packed up, said goodby to our London flat and host, and caught our train from Waterloo station to Poole, in Dorset. During the two hour train ride, I had just enough time to catch up on two days worth of my journal, eat my sandwich, and occasionally look out the window. The view as we left London was much the same as any big city, the closer to the train tracks, the more run down the buildings appear. Eventually the scenery began to change to cow pastures and we all began to relax, noticing yet again how the crowds of London had kept us tense, moving quickly, and ever on our toes. As the train sped by fields and cows, I was happy to see the countryside looked as I had imagined. As we pulled into stations, however, the surrounding buildings looked decidedly corporate. Bill Bryson was right in his book Notes from a Small Island, he commented that even in the small countryside cities, corporate architecture was slowly replacing the beautiful stone architecture.

Rolling greens seen from train window.

We arrived at Poole station and I was a bit disappointed that it in no way looked as quaint as I had imagined. It was rather a big city, though by no means compared with London. Our new Airbnb host, Angela, kindly offered to pick us up at the station and drive us the 45 minutes to her house in Swanage. On the way we drove through Wareham and Corfe. As we drove through Wareham the quintessentially European stone buildings I had been hoping for began to appear, but as we drove through Corfe, I fell in love! Up on the hill above us the Castle ruins stood grandly in the mid-day sun. The narrow, curving road took us through the stone building village at the foot of the castle. I could NOT wait to visit Corfe the next day! Swanage had parts of town similar to Corfe, but was a bit larger. It was also a seaside town.

My first view of Corfe Castle from Angela’s car!

Arriving at #9 Russel Street (see the listing here), Angela offered us cups of tea and brochures of things to do in the area. It seemed there was so much to do in the area that the three of us could have vastly different vacations! My mom wanted to attend all the organized hikes and evening nature lectures. I wanted to spend my time at Corfe Castle and strolling along the path atop the white chalk cliffs. Meanwhile, Micah would have been perfectly happy spending his week exploring the town’s antique shops.

Our Swanage Airbnb – 2 bedrooms, a kitchenette, and a big back yard

After tea we were all able to agree we should spend the last two hours before the shops closed, getting to know Swanage. We hiked down the hill until we found shops and then casually strolled the street looking at all the sea side accoutrements in many of the shop windows. I was drawn into a small clothing boutique called Ocean Blue by a beautiful blue and white number in the window. I had to try it on! The dress had a liner and tulle at the bottom so it puffed out just right! It was a perfect party dress! Unfortunately, I had nothing I could wear it for so I couldn’t justify buying it.

Our first evening in Swanage

Still drooling over the dress, we moved on to find dinner. We stopped at the Black Swan Inn, which claimed to be the oldest pub in Swanage. The chef was French and the owner’s dog, Pickles, seemed to run the place. Pickles, a small wiry-haired terrier, ran around the pub carrying a ball in his mouth and demanding pets from everyone. If pets were offered, he would immediately roll onto his back. As for the food, it was the best we had the entire trip (and it was my 3rd fish and chips of the trip too)! Our host, Angela, told us that some of her guests enjoy the Black Swan so much that they end up having dinner there 3 nights in a row. We didn’t hit that record, but we did eat there twice during the week.

Our favorite restaurant of the whole trip!
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