New Forest

It was Halloween weekend. An incredibly mild one at that. With record high temperatures we ambled home early Saturday morning after Petra and John’s engagement party, luckily not the dejected dress ups. The candles in the pumpkins had long burned out and some children still frothing after their sugar rush. We slumped into bed, ill prepared for the day ahead. Today was our fourth anniversary.

Jane was much better prepared than us. A solid ESTJ type, organized and prepared with spreads, carrot and conversation sticks for the 3 hour journey south. We also got to see Janes new VW Golf and marvelled at the new car smell, made pungent by Mitch’s wet running shoes… New Forest we hadn’t heard that much about, other than that it was full of horses roaming around the grazing on the streets and owned by the commoners. Driving into Burley, we found a few champing at the bit. The forest is the centre of witchcraft and the occult in the UK with it’s most famous witch, Sybil Leek, bringing in attention and tourism to the little village, now full of witch shops and stories of the coven rituals. For the kids it was one big fancy dress party.

 

We hired a few mountain bikes and toured one of the shorter tracks (without the pubs unfortunately ). Here we found more horses, autumn leaves littering the path and wild mushroom hunters, with a musty bag load full of fungi. Tam was putting her new camera skills from her course to use.

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Our accommodation in Ringwood was a thatch roofed cottage, the kind like you picture in nursery rhymes. It was even called Auld Mother Hubbard and had a menagerie of chickens, ducks and dogs. We hoped the cupboards weren’t bare at the B&B. Settling in at the Old Beams Inn down the road for an epic meal and good yarn.

 

Sleeping in and avoiding our morning run in the wet, we took our time before driving South to Hurst Castle, a defence fort built out on a shingle spit by Henry VIII and later adapted for the defence of the British naval bases in Portsmouth and Southampton during WWII. From here he could see the Isle of Wight through the driving wind. Our ferry trip back was guided by a retiree and his small clinker. He had memorised every little bird, its habits and its annual migrations. Seagulls reared their backs up and prepared to attack, hopefully gaining some attention. No-one likes the seagulls….

Lunch in Beaulieu, with a quick admire of the Abbey and steering clear of a few wandering horses on the pavement, we got our last little fix of the New Forest before driving back to London, early to avoid the school holiday traffic.

Road trips have been too few and far in between, we haven’t done any around the UK in ages and it makes you appreciate the benefits of having a car, or having a good friend who does!

 

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