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Nov 2017

Dorset Coat of Arms

Bridport and  Poundbury had to be abandoned and Dorchester got just a passing glance. Still, that's heavy rain for you following from Devon into Dorset and is still adding to the levels of, quite literally, Poole.

It's a base for a few days for Brownsea Island and RSPB™ Arne, two places that have twitchers jerking furiously, they say. Not that they'd be seen, too busy swanning around in Swanage, pottering on the Isle of Portland and refusing to cough up for Corfe Castle for that.

That means not that much of Poole will be seen, neither, just a couple of early-evening hours but time enough for England's longest high street and a longing for the high seas, eh?

  Island View (Guillemot House, Norton Way)

Just over  Poole Bridge, it's in the suburb of Hamworthy, really, but it's just a 10-minute trot to town. At least it would be if the bridge wasn't closed for a couple of months meaning the diversion over the  Twin Sails Bridge makes it more like half an hour.

Possibly the neediest accommodation provider ever encountered as within 10 minutes of getting the keys, a text arrives... 'Is everything perfect?'

It's certainly modern and well-appointed and everything seems to be as advertised including the private parking although the view from the balcony to Brownsea doesn't mention the back of a boatyard even if it has got a fox in it.

That Glade™ plug-in is also making the eyes water, the heating has had to be knocked right down and let's not even get started on what you're charging for three nights. Well, you did ask.

Poole's largely pedestrianised high street should really be called Long Street and there's some town-centre parking near the top of it.

At just shy of 1km, it's one way to kill an hour in the early evening but, up at the top, the modern Dolphin Shopping Centre could, sorry Poole, just about be anywhere and you can ponder that while you wait for the level crossing to lift, not shown.

Back over the railway line, things are a little more eye-catching, architecture-wise, and the landmark building on Lagland Street was once the local library.

Of course it's a  Wetherspoon™s now, named after Lord Wimborne, whoever he was, even though, ironically, he and his wife had lobbied for a hospital.

This all leads to a stretch back in, sorry again Poole, you-could-just-about-be-anywhere-territory but highlights include a good old hardware shop that's family-run, probably.

I love these places and could easily spend an hour inside. It's thought to be the smell, which is that of grandad's shed, although there's often an obligation to buy a small bag of screws or some shoelaces.

Today, it was a pack of cheap batteries that weren't really needed.

  Butler & Hops (88 High Street)

Not quite as crafty as their branding suggests and a little bit rough around the edges. Still, they're a friendly bunch and this pair are the first Geordies they've heard since  Gazza had his pals down for a housewarming.

It's not until a street called Old Orchard that there's any sense of the old town. This is where the Georgian mansions replaced the medieval as Poole prospered as a port in the 1700s.

It's also home to some of Poole's fancier sustenance providers but only if Zizzi™s is your benchmark.

This, in turn, leads down to the quay and is where you would have arrived if that bridge hadn't been closed. Here you'll find a modern re-imagining of the mercantile alongside the  boat trips to Brownsea Island and beyond.

Poole suddenly appears to be really, rather pleasant.

  Karma (22 High Street)

Above average, 'Eastern Mediterranean' fayre, which, let's face it, means Greek. The house special, however, was one plate that wasn't nearly as smashing as the simple, chicken kebab that was done to perfection and right on the seasoning.

Maybe the bridge diversion means that first impressions have been skewed with no real evidence, so far, of any of the imagined wealth.

The prices of these cardboard apartments have plummeted[1] since they were built in 2004 so this isn't one of the nine of the 10 most expensive addresses in Dorset that happen to be in Poole.

[1] Still slightly south of £1m for a penthouse view of the natural harbour that named that toon.

That fact is something else that's skewed, skewed by the fact they're all at  Sandbanks.

There lies a beyond-exclusive development on a spit, two-and-a-half miles to the south-east, and can just about be seen in the background of this dusky pic.

When I was a lad, ex-footballers used to run newsagents and not run around in motor boats. There's an industry here that supplies them and most of their customers will be private ferries for Sandbanks, probably.

They'll still be needing the Bentley, though, how else are you going to get over to Rownhams North Services on the M27 for that cash-only transaction? A big, fat envelope will seal the deal on one with lovely exterior lines, Portuguese-bridge bow seating and yes, for that, they'll even bung in the custom interior.

Crimson velour that's a tough but tactile textile with a nice, that's right,  red nap.

That's a joke, of course. No seriously, that's a joke. Seriously.