On the last bank holiday toward the end of August, Gareth and I decided to make the most of the late Summer sunshine and take our annual trip down to the New Forest in Dorset.
We are very fortunate to be able to visit the New Forest a few times a year because Gareth’s parents own a stationary caravan in a large holiday park down there. The New Forest is a very beautiful place and we always enjoy long, quiet weekends there spent walking through woodland or watching the sea lap against the shore. I have so many unique and special memories of Dorset and our caravan holidays but strangely I have never blogged about a trip or captured any of those moments with my camera.
On this particular bank holiday weekend I was determined that would change and I would finally share some photographs and words with you before the Summer slipped away. Who knows, perhaps this will inspire you to take a trip to the dreamy New Forest and enjoy a peaceful time there for yourself…
On the first day of our trip the sun beat down heavily, warming our skin and giving no indication of the torrential rain that was to follow the next day. We rose early, eager to make the most of our short stay and fit in visits to all of our favourite haunts.
Our first port of call was the New Forest and an area of shrubland where beautiful lilac heather carpeted the floor as far as the eye could see. The New Forest is a very quiet, calming place and for some time, as we walked all we could hear was the low hum of bees buzzing between the heather and the occasional flap of wing from a startled bird.
We climbed a low hill, walking a path that had been trod by many before us, weaving through the heather. I can not explain how good it feels to stretch your legs in the New Forest – the sense of space or the lungfuls of clear air. But the more I walked and the more of my surroundings I took in the more at peace I felt – part of the magic of the place.
On our walk we encountered many New Forest ponies – these beautiful creatures roam the forest and surrounding areas freely, grazing lazily on the grass and providing amusement to all those that pass them when they venture in to nearby towns. We even spotted some Scottish Highland Cattle and fluffy calves that watched us with big brown inquisitive eyes. I have to admit, as much as I enjoy seeing the horse and the cattle, I am sometimes a little afraid – they are absolutely huge and so powerful after all!
On our way to the New Forest I had spotted a sign for a Pick Your Own Farm at the roadside. And so once we had finished walking, taking photographs and soaking up our surroundings we decided to head there so I could stand in a field of sunflowers.
The PYO farm was one that we had visited in years previous – in fact I had even posed for photographs in the same sunflower field three years earlier – how time flies!
The fields were not as laden with fruit as they had been when I had last visited though. I have heard that the long, cold Winter combined with the ensuing heatwave was terrible for PYO business due to the crops coming in unexpectedly early and dying off in the same manner. That said the sunflowers were thriving, with their huge golden faces turned toward the sun. We also saw rows and rows of flowers in oranges, purples, blues and pinks – a splash of colour against an otherwise barren field of dirt.
One thing that particularly took us by surprise was the pumpkin patch. In the back of my mind I was vaguely aware that pumpkins would be growing and forming at this point so that they may be ready for October. But as we stumbled unexpectedly in to a pumpkin patch I could not believe that some were already fully formed and ready to be picked! Of course there was only a handful of early pumpkins, flashes of orange peaking between those distinctive ashy leaves – but it was certainly enough to start up a spark of excitement for the season ahead!
After exploring the farm we decided to head back closer to the caravan and to our favourite garden centre – Stewarts – for our favourite Dorset lunch. Stewarts is a large garden centre with lots of amazing plants, homewares, gifts and more. Plus there’s a wonderful cafe that sells a selection of hot and cold food, cakes and the most delicious sausage rolls you’ll ever eat. Whenever we stay at the caravan we make a point of lunching at Stewarts, and often spend an hour or so just looking around at all the gorgeous things on display.
After lunch we headed back out to Poole for a spot of shopping and a wander by the harbour. I dropped in to the Lush there (29 High Street) as it is the very first ever Lush store and therefore sells lots of wonderful exclusives (next time I’m there I need to stock up on my 29 HS perfume as this is the only place you can buy it!) and Gareth popped in to the shop next door which, by some strange coincidence, happens to be a model train shop. (Gareth loves model trains and has one of his own set up in our garage.)
We sat by the harbour for a little while, watching men fish and boats full of excited tourists take off for the sea, before heading home for a quick nap before tea.
Much later that evening we swung by the beach to catch a quick glimpse of the sea (unknowing that the next day a real visit would not be possible due to heavy rain!) and then set off for Bournemouth to the TGI Friday’s there. Usually we have dinner in Christchurch which is another really beautiful little town with a river running right through and castle ruins. Unfortunately on this occasion our booked restaurant messed up our reservation! We both love TGIF though so it all worked out well, all things considered.
The next and the last day of our trip fell on a Sunday that could not have been more different to the sunshine and blue skies of the day previous.
We woke to what sounded like pellets falling heavily on the tin roof above us; rain ran in rivulets down the caravan windows and there was a definite shift in temperature with a cold chill lingering in the air.
Although we were sad that a trip to the beach would no longer be possible, we were fortunate in that we had planned an indoor activity.
Christchurch Emporium is a huge building that houses over 140 stalls of vintage, second-hand, antique and handmade goods -the main lure for me being vintage. We had driven past the sign several times on several different trips and had always wondered what the Emporium would be like, but for some reason or the other had never actually paid it a visit. On a rainy day like Sunday, it was the perfect choice.
Built in a large warehouse, the Emporium was vast and cold, but with many interesting looking stalls and booths. The curious thing about the booths was that on this day, they were not manned – if you wanted to purchase an item you had to simply pluck it from the shelf and pay at a service desk at the end before you left.
The Emporium was actually one of the more interesting vintage shops I have visited, with a wide array of homeware, ceramics, toys, art and more. I was particularly fond of an over-stuffed Paddington Bear and a stall that sold original and repro 70s cards.
We spent a good two hours rifling through all the goodies and even came away with a vintage cocktail cart that Gareth twisted my arm over!
Balancing the cocktail cart precariously in the boot, we waved goodbye to Dorset and headed back to SNO. We had a wonderful weekend in Dorset even if it was cut a little short!