diamond geezer

 Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Seaside postcard: Isle of Portland
Portland MuseumI won't go on about South Dorset for the rest of the week, even though I could, because you've probably heard me rattle on for long enough by now. But I couldn't come all this way and not explore the Isle of Portland too. A four-mile-long lump of limestone, accidentally joined to the mainland by a random spit, with a completely different feel to anywhere else I've ever been. The rock underfoot made its fortune, with Portland Stone transported far and wide to build such edifices as St Paul's Cathedral and the UN Building. You're never far from a quarry on Portland, which therefore looks slightly ugly and disfigured from the air. And you're never far from a prison either - a Victorian citadel here, a walled-off farm here, a borstal there. Let's just say that the island, and its islanders, don't always have the best reputation around here. But that's not entirely justified. I walked down to Portland Museum on the eastern flank of the island, and found an enclave of culture overseen by a gaggle of lovely ladies. They were busy setting up for a garden party the following day, but still found time to direct me round the cottage-based galleries and to sell me a locally-sourced ice cream. You'll never go, but they'd love to see you. I didn't make it quite as far as Portland Bill, nor the sculpture park, nor the western coast path, so there's good reason to venture back to this utterly fascinating island another day. But rest assured, I won't be writing about it for a few years yet.

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