Saturday, August 23rd 2014
I am not by nature an early riser and when Tigger awoke me in what seemed the middle of the night, I was not best pleased.
“I think you should take a photo of the view outside,” said she, quite unabashed.
I reluctantly assumed a vertical configuration and went to look out of the window.
Having looked out of the window and observed the above scene, I decided that, yes, I should definitely take a photo of the view outside. I fumbled around for my camera and took the picture.
Now I was up, despite the early hour, what should I do next? Yes, go back to bed… 🙂
Sometime later, we arose once more and prepared ourselves for the day. This was the end of our stay in Weymouth and we must pack, have breakfast and make our way to the station to catch our train back to London. Having bade farewell to the hotel management, we set out on foot for the station.
I mentioned that the Victoria Jubilee Clock was one of my two favourite features of Weymouth. The other one is the statue of George III. You may have glimpsed it in photos I took from our hotel window. George was very fond of Weymouth and made many visits here, taking dips in the sea from a bathing machine. He first visited Weymouth in 1789 after recovering from a bout of mental illness. Impressed with the town itself and the warm welcome he had received, the King returned in 1791 and thereafter every year except two until 1805.
The King’s attachment to Weymouth was obviously advantageous to the town and the town responded with gratitude: in 1809 an impressive monument to George III was designed by architect James Hamilton and constructed in the years 1809 to 1810. It shows the King in his coronation robes, standing in front of a table upon which are piled symbols of royalty (e.g. the crown) and of learning (the books). An unusual feature of the statue is that since 1949 it has been painted. The result is colourful and rather splendid.
We made our way to the station and, once there spent some time observing this gull. In seaside towns, gulls are attracted to stations, perhaps because with so many people arriving and departing, there is plenty of food left lying around. We didn’t see where he obtained it, but the gull somehow acquired a packet of biscuits which he proceeded to tear open, and then shake to release the contents. He did this a few at a time, in the meantime warding off other approaching gulls.
We reached the station platform and settled down to wait for our train. Then we made a discovery: for some reason we were much too early! We had somehow become confused about our train time. As we had tickets for a specific train, we had to travel by that train only so there was nothing for it but to return to the town and find some way of passing the time until our train was due. The hotel was happy to look after our bags in the meantime.
We wandered about without any particular goal and found ourselves once more in Alexandra Gardens. There were the usual birds about, including pigeons and crows. Crows are always rewarding to watch because they are very clever and get up to some fascinating tricks. There is a stall in the garden selling drinks, ice cream and snacks. It suddenly occurred to Tigger to wonder whether crows liked popcorn. So she bought some and started dispensing it to the people in black feathers. The answer is yes, crows like popcorn. My role in all this was simply to watch and take photos. Here are a few of them.
Although crows are not gregarious (rooks are, of course, but these are not rooks), quite a crowd of them had gathered in the garden, perhaps because there is plenty of food here, left by mucky human beings. Because of this, there was relatively little sign of squabbling.
Depending on circumstances, crows either eat the food on the spot or fill their beaks with as much as they can carry and fly off with it to a safer place. The crow on the right couldn’t make up his mind whether to eat it here or take it away. He started filling his beak but then must have decided that as there was plenty of food about, he could eat it there without worrying about competition from other crows.
There was nonetheless the occasional half-hearted stand-off, as here when one crow seems to be thinking about trying to steal food from the other who is gobbling his popcorn while keeping a wary eye on him. In the end, no squabble ensued.
These highly intelligent birds are fun to watch but are hard to approach because they are, quite rightly, suspicious of human beings. This is because humans have traditionally persecuted crows for reasons that are based on ignorance, superstition and downright lies. In recent years, some remarkable discoveries have been made of these birds’ intelligence and problem-solving abilities. Instead of persecuting them, we should get to know and understand them. We will then realize that they are worthy of our affection and admiration and that to persecute them is a crass as it is stupid.
Time does not stand still and the moment eventually came when we must go to catch our train. We collected our bags from the hotel, said goodbye a second time, and set out for the station. My last photo was the above one of the Victoria Jubilee Clock, this time in sunshine.
Our visit to Weymouth was short but enjoyable. The bad feelings I suffered on the evening of our arrival dissipated overnight with the disappearance from the seafront of the fun fair and the disappearance from the streets of the jostling crowds. Weymouth became again its familiar enjoyable self. I expect we will return before long.