|We have now moved back to the mainland and stayed in the New Forest. The New Forest was created by William I in 1079 for private hunting parties, mainly deer. It consists mainly of forest and heathland with a number of bogs.
Lyndhurst is in the heart of the New Forest and there we met our 1st wild ponies. They are very inquisitive and love to check you out to see if you have any food. (Best not to feed them as they do bite!). They are free to wonder the forest and have right of way on any of the roads along with the cows that also roam this wilderness. We had to stop in the van a few times to let the ponies amble along the road, they are never in a hurry to get anywhere.
We shared our campsite in the forest with a couple of working donkeys. They pull a cart at the fairs and showgrounds giving people and children rides. They woke Paul up every morning at 7am sharp wanting the farmer to bring them their breakfast. They were noisier than the chickens. You can imagine how Paul felt each morning…ha ha.
Paul loved the Beaulieu Car Museum. It contained a Model T Ford, a Bubble car, Reliant Robin, the Bluebird (land speed record fame) and of course Mr Bean’s green Mini. Next stop was Bucklers Hard. It’s an old Georgian village on the edge of the Beaulieu River that was a ship building centre. Henry Adams, Master Ship Builder, had his home here (it’s now the pub/hotel) and built ships for Nelson. Even though people still live in the houses the whole village is now a museum and no cars are allowed. It is a very pretty and tranquil place.
Leaving the New Forest we headed to Christchurch. The cobbled streets at one end of town lead towards the old quay and to some very interesting shops that Paul stopped me looking at as apparently we don’t need anything……
We took a walk through the gardens at Bournemouth on a cold and rainy day and what did we find – an aviary full of Australian birds – parrots, cockatoos, finches. There was a bitterly cold wind blowing and the birds were fluffed up and dreaming of home :-)
We stayed on a farm in Fordingbridge. The town is mentioned in the 10th century Doomsday Book as Forde. It’s name was changed in the 11th century to Fordingbridge when a bridge was built across the river. The town had two butchers and both shops looked so cute painted red and green and one with a thatched roof that I had to stop and take photos. One of the butchers saw me on the opposite side of the street snapping away, he came running over and said he was happy for me to take pictures but could I please pop some coins into his charity box as payment. Of course I obliged and also picked up some pheasant breasts for tea.
We started heading back to Old Windsor for a Clarence Family gathering and stopped in Salisbury on the way. A beautiful city of Tudor beam buildings and of course an amazing cathedral that was built in the 13th century. We walked the “Portway” an old Roman road that leads to “Old Sarum”, the original site of the town 1 mile north of today’s city, situated on top of a hill. Not much remains of “Old Sarum” but it was a very important town in it’s hayday.
Our next stop was Winchester, the home of the last Saxon King, King Alfred the Great. The 13th century Great Hall is the only part of Winchester castle that remains and it houses King Arthurs Round Table. It’s made of oak and 18ft in diameter. It is not the original as they believe this one was made in 1522, way past King Arthurs time. The Great Hall was magnificent and I felt very moved just standing and absorbing all the history that this building had seen. Out in the courtyard was a replica of Queen Eleanor’s garden complete with plants and scrubs that would have filled 16th century gardens. It felt very peaceful and calming after the emotions I had felt in the Great Hall.
Sunday lunchtime saw us at the restaurant in Prospect Park, Reading to meet up with the Clarence clan, Mum & Brian, Andrew, Aunt Kathleen, Paul’s cousins and their spouses - Sandra & Paul and Mark & Sarah along with their son Oliver. We had lovely time catching up on each others news. Sarah joined me 2 days later at the movies. We saw “The Kings Speech”, what a fantastic film, you all must go and see it.
Caught up with Mum & Dad the day before Mum went into hospital. We had lunch at “The Royal Stag” in Datchet. The pub is famous as it has resident ghosts. One is of a child who leaves its hand print on the glass pane after looking through the window for its father. The story goes that the child died outside in the cold while waiting for its drunken father and the child is still waiting. Very sad.
I’ve enclosed a photo of Paul asleep in his deckchair. Yes the sun was shining. He must have been trying to top up his Aussie tan.
We drove to the north of London and walked around the roman town of St Albans. We found the oldest pubs in England, “The Fighting Cock”, dating from the 8th century. It started out as a pigeon house, housing 760 birds. It’s a wonderful octagonal shape. Verulamium (roman name for St Albans) has parts of the town roman wall still standing and mosaic floors from roman villas still intact. And also one of the remaining roman theatres.
Paul had a day at Bisley, the UK’s premier rifle range. He wasn’t able to have shoot (UK laws!) but could watch and he met some very friendly chaps that he had a good yarn with.
Had a great night down our friendly local pub, The Jolly Gardeners, in Old Windsor on Saturday. It was birthday night (4 locals had birthdays that week) so birthday cake all round and we got home at 3am a little worse for wear.
Mum had her op. She is doing well and now at home. Linda has come up for a few days to give Dad a hand looking after Mum.
We have moved back to the south coast, now in Wareham. Paul has arranged for a tow bar to be fitted to the van in case we decide to tow a car and the guy Paul was recommended to fit this is in Poole just down the road.
The spring flowers have started to appear in the grass verges, crocus, daffodils & snow drops. We passed a wooded area today and under the trees was a carpet of snow drops, beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the bluebells.
Hope you are all keeping well. Take care.
Love Liz & Paul x