Dorchester - "Very U"
The last of the Mitfords - or any of the other Mitfords - would have been impressed by Dorchester.
Lovely town. For those with a few quid.
May as well be in Cla'am or B'tersia. Only there are no ethnic minorities. At all. Except the obligatory Roma Big Issue seller, obviously. The UKIP shop/office is impressive.
The first thing you see exiting the station is a Costa. (Small ham & cheese panini £3.95, muffin £1.85, coffee starting at around £2.50... which is what the poor sod who picked the beans will earn in a week.)
Unbelievably, a Zizzi, a Carluccio's and a Pizza Express are the next things you'll spot. When I was last in Dorchester, the Eldridge Pope brewery was still there. It's now the aforementioned restaurants, with designer outlets springing up and the yuppie Lego housing well on the way. The chimney's still there. So is the main building, but it's not long for this world. The chimney will probably have a preservation order slapped on - just to wind-up those who used to have a proper job but who now sell sausage rolls for £2.50 or muffins for £1.85.
I always think of the last scene of "Boys From The Blackstuff" when I see destruction like that.
It doesn't put me in a good mood.
I was somewhat shocked to see a Subway - though I didn't see anyone in it. There is seemingly a McDonald's, though it's in an isolated spot on the Bridport Road and a fair stroll out of the town centre. Not even a Burger King. The mention of KFC or Gregg's being allowed in would see the council fall. Chicken Cottage outlets and Halal signs are notable by their absence.
Those who want to enjoy delicacies such as a smallish gourmet sausage roll at £2.50 have plenty of options.
Depressingly, there are at lest two tattoo/piercing shops, so standards aren't what they were.
Lots to do. Durzet County Museum, Dinosaur Museum (a proper old-style Mary Anning one; no animatronics), Teddy Bear Museum, Tutankhamun museum/exhibition thingy. I didn't see the Military Museum, but it's probably still there - not as if there's a shortage of decommissioned military stuff to stick in museums these days.
I'm not allowed to consume booze at the moment, so I couldn't do a pub reccie. Most of them look very nice. I'd assume they all do Real Ale and most advertise proper food. There is a Wetherspoon's, the Royal Oak, on High West Street, next to The Old Ship Inn. Tom Brown's, again on what amounts to the high street - High East Street in this case - looks the only "boozer" on the manor: i.e. pokey, live bands, darts, skittles.
If Bryan doesn't go to the Weymouth burger joint, the burgers in the ground are excellent. Two slices of cheese and plenty of onions... and £3 is a giveaway at Dorchester prices.
The club bar is a mite small for what's a very large stand in a Football League sized ground, but it sells Thatcher's Cider as well as Greene King IPA. There may have been another Ale pump hiding behind the punters.
A Tesco out-of-town superstore - tasteful and unobtrusive architecture - is the only retail outlet on the manor.
Be warned: a "No Standing By The Pitchside Wall" rule is strictly enforced. You've got to be on the terraces, behind the crush barriers. 400 fans in a ground that would comfortably hold 7,000 or so clearly presents a serious "Elfunsafety" issue.
There is a designated smoking area, incongruously located next to the disabled fans viewing area - the only wooden structure in the ground. I'd imagine one of the numerous stewards would quickly advance on anyone lighting up outside the smoking zone.
Good day out.
Weymouth's slumming it a bit... but I'll bet you can't even find a matelot to have a ruck with in Weymouth most of the time these days.