Posted June 15th, 2010 | No Comments
For a new spin on a walk whilst in Portland, why not visit the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park. The abandoned quarry is situated between the cliff’s edge and the road to Portland Bill on the northwest corner of Top hill. You can access this quarry by walking along the road to Fortuneswell, turning right onto Wide street, then right again at the Tradecroft Estate. It is at the bottom of the hill.
In 1983, the Tout Quarry Sculpture project began to make something beautiful out of a deserted old spot that had lost its usefulness. Now, visitors are able to walk through the quarry exploring the wide variety of different works of sculpted art. And, with so much displayed, you could visit every year and still see something new each time.
New to the park is the stone lithophone, an instrument made entirely of stone. Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussionist, is set to play this remarkable instrument, for the opening ceremony of the sailing event for the 2012 Olympics. To make this, each stone had to be painstakingly sculpted and tested to produce a specific tone.
For those that are keen to take this experience into a more active role, it is possible to take courses in stone sculpture via the Portland Sculpture and Quarry Trust. They offer weekend, 1 week, 2 week, and 4 week courses on selected dates throughout the year.
Posted June 10th, 2010 | No Comments
June is a special time in Portland. As spring begins to melt into summer a small colony of puffins make their return to Portland Bill just in time for mating season. The puffin, which looks like the love child of a parrot and a penguin, is a medium sized, stocky bird that lives its life mainly in open the opens waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. They survive by diving deep under the sea to catch their prey of sand eels and other fish. It’s almost like they swim in a silvery bubble, as the air within their feathers is forced out.
As an endangered species, they can only be found on land in certain parts of England, the three most famous being Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire, Bempton on Humberside and Portland Bill in Dorset. They return to the same burrows on the mainland annually to breed, usually around April or May. Each colony of puffins can contain thousands of pairs, which mate for life. After laying their egg, the couple stay on land for forty days to feed and protect their offspring. Then the young bird is on its own for another 10 days, as its parents return to the sea. Once their adult feathers have grown, they make the difficult journey into the open ocean at night for the first time.
It is a truly magically experience to be able to watch these young, endangered birds take their first flight off of Portland Bill.