remembrance of things past Oct 2007





As an inner city kid, I spent endless after school hours with a gang of similar street kids along the River Frome – a poor thing as rivers go - slotted between the backs of the houses and the Bristol Rovers Football ground. There we made high velocity pea-shooters from the magenta balsam which grew head high along the river bank, optimistically tried to kill water rats with harpoons forged from stair rods in the sulphurous inferno of the blacksmiths shop at the end of the street, and cowered at the site of swans who patrolled the river and which we had been led to believe took every opportunity to break arms with a single beat of their wing.

Such a magical world of adventure was broken only by mothers who regularly predicted that “if we carried on like that, we would have somebody’s eye out” – we never did and they would have been mortified had they known that Johny Mac had a hand grenade and we threw .303 rounds at the wall to see if they would go off. That paradise vapourised like the

morning mist over the river along with the innocence of youth and no doubt some civic jobsworth has now bedecked the area in warning signs and entombed the river in concrete under the M32 and so spoiling all the fun.

However, that lost sense of adventure and paradise was rediscovered during my summer cruise on a visit to Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. I anchored amongst other boats in 3 mtrs just off Pottery Pier to the West of the Island where the tidal range is about 1.0 mtr and there is adequate depth through the yacht moorings to pass at most states of the tide. Even better, by tea time most boats have disappeared, the sea becomes glassy and the magic begins to happen. Go between mid September and mid October after 5.30 pm when the island is deserted. Leave the dinghy on the beach and walk up through the bracken lined path to the trees above. Here you will be met by the “owners” – two magnificent chickens who will check you in and failing a better offer will follow you on the circular path towards the southern end of the Island.

p A rare site - Three male and one female Eider duck flying low over the sea near Poole.

q The man in charge. Will check your National Trust card on entry.


The path anticlockwise passes above pottery pier and a beach entirely comprised of broken glazed earthenware pieces, a unique reminder of the potting industry which once flourished here.