Saturday 3rd April 1999 (Easter Saturday)
This is a short continuation of road around Britain. After a year in Australia last year, we thought we would do a bit of the Devon/Dorset coast which we thought that we knew quite well (there were a few surprises!)
We had driven down to Otterton to see Emma and Stuart yesterday (Good Friday).
We spent a pleasant afternoon with them – it was warm and sunny and we walked out along the coast near Ladram, closing our eyes to the caravans, but thinking how splendid this coast is – reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road in Australia, but without all the hype!
We camped for the night at Cottle's Farm, Woodbury – a Caravan Club Certificated Site (CL) – we have changed our allegiance from the Camping Club to this.
After a beautiful evening, with the hills across the Exe Estuary looking lovely in various shades of grey and with still bare trees silhouetted against them, the morning dawned damp and misty and we were in no hurry to get going.
However the day slowly brightened and it was beautifully warm in the sun. We made our way through Newton Poppleford to Sidmouth – quite narrow and difficult in the camper. We didn't stay long – we had visited before and are likely to visit again and there were quite a lot of people about.
Walking to Ladram with Felix and Ruby 2004
Felix at Ladram 2008
We headed up the steep hill to Salcombe Regis. The road made us think of our worrying drive up the Obi Obi road in Australia. We had recently come this way with Emma and Stuart when we were on a circular walk.
We drove through Branscombe, passing the pub, the Fountain Head, where we had stopped for lunch on this walk listening to a fine Irish band and watching the hundreds of runners on the Grizzly Run.
We recognise one or two other places from our walk notably the church. Opposite here the houses had the most amazing display of spring flowers, really colourful, maybe over the top. The village was drawn out and pretty. We came down to the coast, following a cul-de-sac, but when we came to the car park at the end (remembered from a walk here from Beer in 1987) there was a height barrier and no chance of us stopping!
With Emma & Felix above Sidmouth 2001
After a Boxing Day 'swim' in the sea, with Emma (other tiara) 2007
Instead we had the fun of the narrow roads towards Beer, although we took the so-called (wide vehicle) route – and here we could stop in the car park (30p for an hour). We reminisced over our holiday here with the children in 1987 – our last holiday all together, before Emma started nursing the day after our return. We had stayed in the flat above the cafe opposite the church.
We walked down to the pebbly beach – not as steeply shelving as I had remembered, nor as curved as Adrian had remembered. It was very pretty with the fishing boats and blue stripey deckchairs. There were attractive houses along the road by the coast and cultivated allotments. We viewed a monument to a loved and revered painter/artist called McCallum, then walked briefly on the cliffside and then up to the church – St Michael's – where I peeped inside to see them busy decorating it for Easter. We then returned to the van.
Branscombe 1987 with our children
Felix, Branscombe 2001
We drove on to Seaton. By now the sun was quite warm. We were able to park right by the beach (pebbly) and I made up sandwiches and we sat on a seat to eat them. Then I walked across the shelving pebbles to the sea. Attractive coast in both directions (excluding a static caravan site beyond Beer).
On now towards Lyme Regis, briefly joining the main road. Reminiscences this time of the end of the Wessex Ridgeway walk two years ago. However the little town was amazingly busy on this sunny Easter Saturday afternoon. We managed to manoeuvre ourselves through the narrow roads but weren't able to stop. We vowed to return another time (not that Easter!).
Adrian in Beer, 1999 - we stayed above Gina's in 1987
Adrian on the beach in Beer, 1999
Rosie on the beach at Sidmouth 2010
At Charmouth we stopped at a caravan suppliers and bought some gas and I bought a mini table – wonder if it will be useful. We had passed the road to the beach, but decided we ought to take it, so returned a short distance. We are so glad we did. This delight has been hidden from our knowledge. We parked in the car park (20p for an hour) and walked down to the beach. Car parks here were much more expensive. There were beaches either side of the emerging river – wide sandy/pebbly beaches with the backdrop of cliffs. Lots of people were enjoying themselves here. We bought an ice cream and joined them before a short walk on the beach as far as the stream. We then visited the free visitor centre. This, like a Lyme Regis, is a fossil hunting area.
Us (RH end) outside the Royal Lion Hotel, Lyme Regis at the end of the 70 mile Epilepsy Walk in 1997
A bit further on at Chideock, we took a tiny road down to the sea at Seatown. The road had several cars to pass and we didn't stop at Seatown as parking was £1.50 for motorhomes. Again we thought that we must return, but not at Easter! It is a good walking area, along with Charmouth, with many circular walks (n.b. returned July 2000, camped at Chideock and walked to the sea).
On now to Bridport. Our "wartime" OS map didn't have the new road on it, so instead of finding the road to Eype, we found ourselves in the middle of Bridport, reminding me of Lymington with its market all down the High Street – just packing up and so progress was slow – and a marketplace rather like the one in Uxbridge. Adrian had different memories and was looking out for the pubs of his youth! The houses were very attractive and made me think a bit of Marlborough. We stopped to fill up with diesel.
We did manage to find the long narrow road down to Eype – again we had to negotiate lots of cars and again parking was £1.50, so we were unable to stop and relive memories of a short caravan holiday just before we were married, although I felt that we had returned since (1987).
On now towards Burton Bradstock. We passed a car park where we had parked once and gone for a walk by the beach, but couldn't remember quite when (November 1997).
We finally came to West Bay – absolutely packed out with people in the late afternoon sun. We tried in vain to park and had really given up, but then did find somewhere a bit further along. The place had looked really attractive as we drove around it, but having paid out 40p and setting off without coats, the sun went in and it didn't seem so good, only for it to come out again as we returned to the van. Apparently some television series is being shown, filmed here, which may account for the vast numbers of people.
Rosie looking dangerous at Eype 1966
We took the long road down to the sea at Swyre to West Bexington. There were lots of cars parked here and lots of people fishing.
We headed for Abbotsbury – we had stayed overnight in the car park here two years ago and thought of doing the same, but this time spied a small notice saying "no overnight parking", so reluctantly moved on, again deciding to return to the various attractions another time.
We took a pretty road behind Chesil Beach to find a Caravan Club CL at Lower Street Farm, Langton Herring. On arriving here, we discovered that we should have pre-booked. Several people were caravanning on a narrow strip and after Adrian speaking to them decided to join them. However – disaster struck. Having driven just inside the gate, Adrian always being paranoid about us getting stuck in the wet, muddy ground, we did just that! No amount of helping, shoving, towing by car with trendy new towrope and jacking up the wheels, would get us out. We were helped by two couples over the next hour or two, but eventually had to admit defeat and all went in to get supper. Later the owner came along (we had tried in vain to phone him) and promised to pull us out in the morning with a forklift truck (just arriving as I write this). And yes he did, with no trouble at all!
After supper, we all six met up at the pub the "Elm Tree" and a very jolly evening followed. It was 11.30 when we left and gone midnight when we got to bed!
A bit about the two couples who tried to help us. They were very different from each other, but there were several similarities. Both lots were married for a second time following divorce; both lots had five children – a three and two from each partner; both lots had close connections with Spain and had lived there/have a villa there; both lots had a child/grandchild with severe asthma/excema. The couples didn't know each other.
John, from Milton Keynes, looked like Joe Brown. He was eager and willing to help but rather liked to be the centre of the conversation. His wife Brenda was a mixture of Mary (next door), Margaret Bridgeford, Lois and Pam Ayres. She loved cooking, looking after people, particularly children, plants and gardening. She liked telling us about herself and her family but didn't join in the conversation.
Paul was quiet and unassuming with a pleasant, gentle manner. He had recently had a knee replacement and he and his wife Christine did a lot of walking. They lived near Southampton and spent a lots of time in "the Forest". Christine had Welsh roots (South Wales) and sounded more like Linda Mayne than Gwenan Paul and a bit like my friend Rosemary Jones. She looked a bit like Corinne Penton. She worked for a dentist. Paul was married to her best friend and lived in Spain with her, but returned to England when their marriage split up and subsequently married Christine. She was godmother to one of her stepchildren! They were a lovely couple to talk to.
Sunday 4th April 1999 (Easter Sunday)
This was the day that we were starting the Thomas Hardy walk at lunchtime from Corfe in aid of epilepsy.
Having been extricated from the mud of our campsite at Langton Herring, we drove through the heavy mist to Weymouth, passing the pretty Jubilee Clock Tower and then on towards Preston. I had thought it would be nice to stop by Nora's grave (brother in law Mike's mother) if we could find it – it is 10 years since she died and we had visited her not long beforehand, when we were staying at Corfe.
We recognised the church at Preston, but had difficulty in parking, finally finding a side road across the main road. Just inside the churchyard were a group of Memorial Stones (Les and Nora had been cremated) and after some hunting we found their names. They were hard to read – we must tell Val and Mike to give it a good scrub/brush (they did). I lay two little primroses on it from our garden.
The church doors were open and the service in progress. The church was packed. I stood for a while in the doorway and a "tea lady" at the back of the church asked me in to join the communion service. I was pleased to do so, although dressed in my "walking gear" and she also offered us tea and coffee as the service ended. It was a very fitting start to Easter. We now headed for Corfe, to start the 65 mile Hardy Way Walk to Sturminster Newton over the next 7 days.
Lyme Regis from the Cobb 2006
Ruby and Felix looking for fossils on the beach at Lyme Regis 2006
Adrian at Charmouth 1999
West Bay harbour 1987
Joanna at West Bay 2013
Louisa with Adrian, West Bay 2010
Adrian's photo of West Bay 1963
Emma at Burton Bradstock 1971
Adrian in subtropical gardens, Abbotsbury 1999
Rosie in the Swannery (pointing to the flood level of 1824) in 1999
Abbotsbury Swannery with Edward 2018
Chesil Beach looking both ways (taken at Abbotsbury 2015)
Being extricated in 1999
Saturday, 9th October 1999 Portland
We needed to 'cover' the Isle of Portland and thought the best way was a walk. Also, Portland is included in the "Hardy Way" – some of which we walked at Easter this year in aid of epilepsy. Paul had given Adrian a book on the Hardy Way for his birthday, so we thought by walking around the "Isle" we would be "killing two birds with one stone".
We left Hermitage on Friday 8th after a difficult time. I had two difficult fillings at the dentist in the morning, and felt pretty knocked about. Also, we had Simon and Laure at home, after they had had to return early from their travels because Laure had become very ill with what appeared to be a tropical virus (Encephalitis actually).
We spent Friday night at a CL, just outside Weymouth and left at 9.50 on a greyish morning for Portland. On our way to the B3157 we passed a stray cow on the road, being frantically chased by a young girl!
We stopped to buy a newspaper, the news being full of the tragic rail crash just outside Paddington earlier this week.
We parked at Castletown and left on our walk at 10.50 ascending initially on an inclined plane (Emma would be proud) with the stone sleepers remaining. We had good views down over Chesil Bank, but unfortunately the camera wouldn't work (I held the battery in my hand after this and we were able to take some photos later. On returning to the Tiv we changed the battery).
We had a bit of trouble in following the route initially, but managed to find our way past the prison and quarry to the church at Grove (St Peter's – the "Prison Church"). There were lots of posters in the windows of houses saying "Save Grove School".
We now made our way to Easton, passing a local who said "it's a nice walk" – how did he know I wonder.
We walked down the main street, which seemed to be called Wakeham to Church Ope road where we passed the Portland Museum in a thatched house – "Avices Cottage". Just on from here we stopped for lunch – looking down to the Church Ope Cove and up to the ruins of Rufus Castle (also known as Bow and Arrow Castle). It was pleasantly warm and I took a photo with my now activated camera.
We now set off, past the ruins of St Andrew's Church – the parish church of Portland until 1756 and then past Pennsylvania Castle, built in 1800 for John Penn, grandson of William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania).
Back now by the coast, we walked through old quarries, where I took a photo of Adrian by a "whim" and dreaming of his stone quarrying ancestors.
Adrian at Church Ope Cove, Portland
We went into a little cafe here called the "Lobster Pot", and enjoyed a very fresh scone and cream with our cup of tea.
We had a look at the Pulpit Rock and then began our walk up the western side of the "island", initially following in the path of two "Thelwell" horses and riders.
We had expected the western side to be cold, but although it was very blowy, it wasn't a cold wind. We passed Blacknor, with its connection with the tragedy of the American soldiers and seamen (heading for Slapton Sands) prior to the D-Day landings.
We viewed the "redundant" church of St George Reforne, looking very stark (apparently classical Georgian inside). It was the parish church after the closure of St Andrews, but hasn't been used since 1917.
We returned now to the quarries of the west side – the village was "Weston", west of "Easton". At Fortuneswell we made our way back to Castleton, arriving at the Tiv at 4.45. The sky was gathering grey, but it had remained dry and pleasant for our walk.
It had been lovely to be above the sea for our walk. Portland is not a pretty place – it's houses are drear and its buildings make us think of those of Eastern European communism, but the air was good and we enjoyed the views back to the mainland.
We stopped to view the hidden Portland Castle (from the outside – it had just closed), adjacent to the helicopter landing place.
We drove back across the causeway to Weymouth, and stopped at a CL just outside, where a precise "Margot" lady welcomed us.
Rosie at Portland Bill
We had seen a smallish rufous coloured bird of prey at lunchtime. Now we passed several small birds – possibly whitethroats or stonechats.
On now passed Cave Hole – a dip containing a hole down to the sea cavern below, where the sea used to spout up through the blow hole. There were bars across it – what a feature could be made of this!
Just before Portland Bill we passed a group of young teenage schoolchildren with their teachers. One girl said "whose idea of fun is this". The teacher replied, "it's expanding your horizons"!
Adrian by a 'whim', dreaming of his ancestors (from Swanage actually)
Later that year we did a one day walk around the 'Island' of Portland
Sunday 27th April 1997
We had so enjoyed the Dorset countryside on our walk of the Wessex Ridgeway at Easter that when we came down for Robert's (Bower great nephew) christening in Bournemouth, with Mayday weekend following, we decided to spend a few days in Dorset in between.
We left Sheila and Martin's (Adrian's Brother) at 7.30 pm on Sunday – just as it began to rain heavily. There was, as we imagined, nowhere to "park up for the night" in Bournemouth and so we arrived at the Sandbanks ferry in the wet and the dark.
Monday 28th April 1997
We awoke to a very dreary looking day and felt a bit despondent. We had thought about taking the train to Swanage and incorporating a walk, but things just didn't go to plan today.
At least we had a free night, as Adrian couldn't find anyone to pay. This pleased me, as I thought the £7 fee mentioned in the book excessive for a field with just a third rate loo!
We headed for Corfe – memories of a pleasant week here in 1989 and parked in the car park just outside the town. We had discovered that the trains weren't running today – Adrian had earlier scrutinised the timetable from the campsite, however, we now found Monday's timetable blanked out!
We realise in putting this next part on the website - Weymouth to Bournemouth, that it is a little random, includes other places in Dorset away from the coast and misses out many important places on the coast. This is because we have been to Dorset many times over the years, particularly because the Isle of Purbeck is Bower homeland - back to the 18th century at least. We have therefore tried to 'add in' these places by inserting past/present photos in the appropriate places. It is also in the 'wrong' direction.
Once across the ferry, we headed for a site at Harman's Cross.
Sandbanks ferry 1995
We had difficulty in finding the site in the dark and when we finally did, had problems reversing onto a bit of hard standing. Once settled in the read for a while and then had an early night (we had left Hermitage at 8.15 am after partying until 1.30 the night before) - followed by a good sleep.
On the way (in the dark), we would have passed Studland Heath and the beautiful beach (naturists welcome)
Tuesday 29th April
The warm day which we heard promised on the radio (admittedly Thames Valley) did not materialise – it was mostly cloudy and windy, although we had quite a lot of sun later.
We made up for yesterday, by going on the railway today. It was a pretty ride from Corfe to Swanage.
We enjoyed a cup of tea on our return train journey, then at Corfe called in at a small exhibition adjacent to the car park with exhibits of the history/geography of Corfe. We then headed (in the Tiv) to Langton Matravers where we just had time to view again the small Museum there before it closed at 4.00 pm.
We saw once more many references to the "Bower" surname. Also, the young girl when I had handed in the film for developing and said "oh, Bower, a local name. My mother was a Bower".
At this point we need to insert a visit to Durlston Country Park and to the Globe. It was constructed in Greenwich in 1887 in Mowlem's stone-yard (whose founder John Mowlem had lived in Swanage) and brought to Swanage by sea in segments. Adrian's great grandfather may have worked on it.
Then on to theTilly Whim mines, where Adrian's great grandfather worked until he went to London in the 1850's.
Another insert here about Worth Matravers another Bower stronghold. A pretty little village with a pub - the Square & Compass once owned by a Bower
Tom, Rosie, Simon & Paul by the Globe in 1989
The Globe in the 1930's
Tilly Whim Mines, Swanage
An older entrance to the Tilly Whim Mines, Swanage
It was a late morning when we finally left. We drove through Wool and made our way to East Lulworth and Lulworth Castle. We drove into the Castle grounds and first visited the church of St Andrew which contained a small Keats and Hardy display. The first gravestone we saw in the churchyard was to a Bower. We walked off across the grounds that then decided to visit the Castle itself. For £1.50 each we climbed to the top of one of the towers. The Castle has belonged to the Weld family for 300 years. In 1929 it was burned and only the "shell" remained. This is being restored by English Heritage. After our "tour" and a visit to the Roman Catholic Chapel nearby, we ate our lunch at a picnic table in the garden beside the tower.
We then left and drove through the pretty countryside towards Osmington, parking in a National Trust car park high above the sea. From here we made a circular walk down to the coast and along to Osmington Mills. We reached the Smugglers Inn, which I had visited five years ago with Mum and Val. It was closed (4.00 pm) but the adjacent tea shop was open and we sat outside to enjoy tea and cake. The scenery here is lovely. We then continued back to the car park, slightly inland and through fields and woods back to the Tiv. A lovely walk and we felt the effects of the sun and the wind on our faces.
At this point, another insert - for Lulworth Cove. We have visited here many times and it is a very popular tourist attraction. You have to park well before the village, and then walk down to the amazing circular cove. Then a long climb up a hill to look down on 'Durdle Door' and a climb down to get to the beach.
1963 Rosie with friend Aj
1968 - Rosie at Lulworth Cove
1989 Paul & Simon climbing the hill
1996 Adrian by Durdle door
1989 - with Tom, Paul & Simon
We then wandered off towards the pier (being restored) and through Albert Gardens to Peveril Point.
Thursday 1st May
Another beautiful day greeted us and the sun shone in warmly from a clear blue sky. We enjoyed our isolation, but before we got round to having breakfast (it was quite late), we were joined by a couple in a caravan. They were from near Bristol, but originally from Lancashire. They had also retired and were enjoying a continual holiday. She told us that she had voted (Conservative) before she left home. She was very anti-labour.
We were reluctant to leave this heaven. Again we sat outside for breakfast.
It was almost 5 o'clock when we reached the van. We had planned to stay at a site in Church Knowle, but after locating it, in the pretty village with a promising looking pub, we were told we couldn't camp there as there were sheep in the field!
We located another site just north of Corfe, but went a long way round to it as Adrian had mis-read the map reference! After supper we read – Adrian, a book on "Old Swanage" bought today (his ancestral home) and me, my book from Paul and Nicky on the first woman to climb Everest (Rebecca Stevens).
The area to the west of here is all 'owned ' by the Army. It was 'confiscated' in 1943 to practise for the 'D-day' landings and never given back and access is limited to walking at the weekends. We have only been there once and that was on Paul's 1st birthday in 1972 when we went to the abandoned village of Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay - we appear to have no pictures!
1989 Rosie, Simon & Paul on the beach at Studland
1989 Old Harry, Studland
Adrian, Studland beach, 2012
Disappointed at this we had a short walk around Corfe and as I went to take an artistic photo, found that my camera wasn't working – another disappointment – as yet unresolved. We changed our plans and decided to have a walk from Kimmeridge. I made up some sandwiches which we enjoyed sitting in Kimmeridge Bay watching the windsurfers out at sea.
After a quick look in the small information Centre, we headed off eastwards along the South West coastal path. This was all ups and downs, with definitely more ups! It was very blowy, but the sky had cleared to give a blue sky. The fields of grass shimmered in the wind, looking like a snake sidewinding across the desert, or a speeded up film of clouds rushing across the sky.
At Egmont we headed inland towards Kingston, mostly through fields, but partly through woods with bluebells, ramsons and red campion – leaves were bursting open and birds sang on high. There were splendid views towards Poole harbour, past Corfe in its strategic position and also out towards sea.
Corfe castle 1997
Adrian happy on the Swanage Railway
Lunch in a seaside shelter, Swanage
Adrian outside Langton Matravers Church 1997
Worth Matravers Church 2012
Wednesday 30th April
We awoke to sunshine and clear blue sky and that's how it stayed all day, with a light, fresh breeze.
We enjoyed breakfast sitting outside, then drove to "Monkey World" – practically adjacent to the site. Adrian wasn't too keen at paying money (£4.75 each) to see monkeys, but we both enjoyed the experience. The place is really nicely set out and would make a wonderful outing with children as there are several play areas and a section with pets, as well as all types of monkeys, apes, gorillas etc. The place is a sanctuary for mistreated monkeys from various parts of the world. I thought it was an excellent setup.
From here we drove to Wareham, where we planned to walk around the ramparts of the old city walls. We started off all right, but on misreading one of the signposts, we ended up in the middle of Wareham. We bought some excellent filled rolls and cream slices and found our way to the simple Saxon church of St Martin. This contains an effigy of Lawrence of Arabia as well as ancient frescoes. We sat on a seat behind the church in the sunshine and enjoyed our lunch.
Afterwards we continued around the walls, stopping to look at various war graves in St Mary's Church, just before "The Quay".
When we were almost back to the van we spied a little junk shop and decided to purchase a small carpet sample as a doormat for the Tiv. It was 1.50, so we had plenty of time on our parking ticket, which expired at 2.15 pm. However, the man in the shop decided to talk to us and tell us sob story about a family he knew, the son of whom he had helped to record some songs. The family would have appeared to have let the man down badly. At 2.15 pm!! we managed to extricate ourselves – he gave us the mat free for listening to him! We drove off just as the parking attendant arrived!
We now drove to "Clouds Hill", a cottage owned for a time by Lawrence of Arabia and now owned by the National Trust (£2.20 entrance fee for non-members and no reduction for children)
Rosie by St Martin's Church, Wareham
I found little to inspire me, least of all the silent attendant upstairs. I would not have been pleased if I have paid to visit and even less so if I had paid for children to do so. Maybe it is different for "Lawrence of Arabia" fanatics, but I know little about him. We do find these National Trust buildings so prim and proper and have a great desire to shout out something rude!
We had hoped to have a walk around this area, but much of the countryside is taken up by tanks and their tracks. Instead we drove through the exquisite thatched village of Briantspuddle and then Affpuddle (with a diversion – road closed) to Tolpuddle.
Here we stopped and viewed the site where the Martyrs had signed their pledge. We felt quite moved by the enormity of the implications. We looked at the grave of one of the Martyrs in the churchyard.
Rosie by 'Cloud's Hill'
We then drove a couple of miles south to Morton Church. Lawrence is buried in the cemetery here, but first we visited the unusual Morton Church which had been bombed in the war and all the windows replaced by engraved glass, making it look very light and quite different.
We wandered down to the large, wide ford, which was a very pretty spot with lots of ducks and myriads of tiny fish.
We decided to stay again at last night's campsite, as we weren't far away, but on the way stopped at East Burton and wandered across the water meadows.
Adrian at Tolpuddle
On our way back in the Tiv driving past Wool, we saw Woodbridge Manor from Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Ubervilles".
We arrived back at Longthorn's Farm and settled ourselves just along from last night's pitch, just as remote (apart from the occasional sound of tanks trundling around). We sat outside for a while. After supper we had a twilight walk around the large field.
Adrian on the water meadows at East Burton
Rosie by the ford at Morton
Breakfast outside at Longthorns farm
Up Lulworth Castle Tower
Adrian by St Andrews church, Lulworth
We had located a certificated site just north of Dorchester and now headed towards it, driving past pretty villages of Broadmayne and Whitcombe, full of thatched houses and looking very "Hardy-ish"
I excellently navigated us to the campsite, but on investigating we found that it was now a "cattery" and didn't do camping! We were somewhat upset as we had liked the thought of walking into Dorchester tonight. It was now about 6.00pm. We telephoned Connie Jackson (a Bower cousin) who was delighted at the thought of us visiting. We were with her in a few minutes, and spent the next couple of hours chatting.
It was 8 o'clock when we left and headed back to our good old Longthorns Farm. It was a pretty ride in the evening light. No one else had arrived there. We decided to pitch in the other field, for a change of scene.
I quickly made a super omelette, while Adrian discovered to his distress, that the tape recording he had tried to make at Connie's hadn't worked.
I could see the wonderful pinks and blues of the sky reflected in the wing mirror. Another clear and star filled sky.
Walking to Osmington Mills
Friday 2nd May
Another day of sunshine and clear blue sky. We enjoyed breakfast outside again. I had located a stile not far from us and we set off on a pleasant walk through the woods before we left. The couple in the caravan who had taken our money on behalf of the farm owners waylaid us. She also had the ability to talk the hind leg of a donkey. We were joined by the only other people staying, the Bristol/Lancashire couple, who had obviously stayed here before. There was much chat about people they both knew and we eventually managed to extricate ourselves.
We set off in glorious sunshine past Wareham towards Bournemouth. We stopped at Tesco near Christchurch and renewed our provisions for the weekend. It was now lunchtime, so we had lunch sitting beside the River Iford before having a quick look at Hants and Dorset motorcaravans. We then made our way past Brocklehurst to Roundhill campsite, arriving at 2.45 for a Bower family camp.
Tuesday 22nd March 2001 Totton to Lymington
We decided to do the short stretch of coast from Southampton to Bournemouth prior to a visit to Southbourne to meet up with the rest of the Bower family.
We left Hermitage in the morning, calling in to see Ron and Eva Mockford, cousins of Adrian's Dad, at Chandlers Ford. They were really glad to see us, and despite not being in the best of health, were very cheerful and made us really welcome. We stayed for light lunch with them, then left and headed for Totton, Southampton and found our way to the Tide Mill at Eling. The Tiv was too large for us to go across the toll bridge. We parked nearby and walked over the bridge and up to the attractive little church, which overlooks Southampton Water. We walked through the churchyard, but the footpath beyond it was closed, as a precaution during this foot and mouth epidemic.
We came back to the mill, which was open, so went in for a "tour" and to look around – apparently this is the only mill in the world which uses the tide to work the mill to grind flour. The tide was out now, so everywhere looked very muddy. The weather was grey, but milder than the last few really cold days.
We drove around to Marchwood (Adrian had spent 3 months at the Power station there in 1963) and found our way to Cracknore Hard where we looked out to the muddy and grey Southampton water and saw an "Isle of Wight" fast ferryboat being worked upon.
Next we came round to Hythe, where we parked in Waitrose car park and walked up through the little pedestrian precinct then back down to the estuary near the pier. We watched the little pier train which takes people to and from the passenger ferry across to Southampton.
We now made our way to Fawley, driving down to the little church almost engulfed by the oil refinery.
We drove on to Calshot, where we parked on the front near the rows of brightly coloured beach huts making us think of Muizenenberg in South Africa. We walked briefly along the pebbly shore, looking across to the Isle of Wight.
Friday 23rd of March Lymington to Boscombe
The morning was still damp. We left at 8.15 and found our way via the nice little place of Milford on Sea, seeing children on their way to school to Keyhaven. Here we took the little road along beside the marshes towards Hurst Castle and stopped to have our breakfast. The fields behind were very flooded. We moved the Tiv on a bit and parked at the end of Hurst Beach. From here we walked along the 1½ mile pebble ridge to Hurst Castle, remembering our previous visit here in 1977 when I was expecting Thomas. The top of the ridge was much flatter and firmer now making the going much easier than on the previous visit, when we were so upset to be turned off the passenger ferry as there was one person too many! This time the Hurst Castle vehicle passed us on this flat track, but the Castle isn't open until April – the man was coming to work on the ferry (also summer only).
The grey day became quite drizzly, so visibility wasn't good, but we were able to see the coast of the Isle of Wight, which we walked last year. We only passed a few walkers – mostly dog owners. We walked right around the outside of the Castle, then returned to the Tiv.
We drove back to Milford, which was quite busy now. We parked in the free car park and I walked to the bakers to buy rolls for lunch. We drove down to the beach car park (paying). Everywhere looked wet and grey – not enticing to go out!
We drove along to Barton on Sea and parked. We walked down the long slope to the beach. Adrian called it a "poor man's Bournemouth" – a place which hadn't really happened, but had high cliffs similar to Bournemouth's, but minus the promenade. He said he had always wanted to visit here as a child, when he saw signs in the New Forest to Barton on Sea, and thought it must be wonderful!
The weather was damping now, as we walked past the cafe where we had taken Mum Bower for Sunday lunch in 1988.
Between here and Highcliffe Beach, where we stopped briefly next, there had been severe cliff slumping. At most places on this stretch of coast there are reinforcements in the way of rocks on the beach.
Our next stop was Avon Beach, which we had visited from the New Forest on a Mayday camp. We walked on the sandy beach, then drove along to the far end of Avon Beach where we had lunch. I was just heating the oven to have a Cornish pasty, when I discovered some (rather smelly) fish in the fridge, so we had a quick change of plan! We had by now had occasional glimpses of sun and some blue sky.
At the end of Christchurch Harbour at Mudeford, the river was rushing out to meet the turbulent sea. The lobster pots outside the Haven Inn Pub gave a nice feeling to the place. While Adrian phoned Connie Jackson, I watched the black headed gulls on the water.
We drove up to Christchurch itself and parked near the Priory. I had often enjoyed the views of this across the meadows (today it was more like across the ponds) but had never been close to it.
The next part from Southampton to Boscombe is the last part of this section - it is in the 'wrong' direction!
The next section of our Road Around Britain is from Sidmouth to Southampton and the first part is from Sidmouth to Weymouth
Corfe Castle 1956 ish - Adrian's parents photo
Corfe castle 1989 with Tom, Paul & Simon
Eling Tide Mill
Beach Huts at Calshot
Rosie by the Hurst Castle ferry
Sidmouth to Southampton
Place Mill, Christchurch
We drove on now to Lepe, passing animals and farms. Lepe Country Park was closed and so were all the car parks (foot and mouth precautions again) so we didn't stop. Exbury Gardens was also closed (visited 1987), sadly, so we continued to Beaulieu (open). The new Forest looked very wet and flooded. We drove through Beaulieu village. With the tide out, the view wasn't so attractive.
We next stopped at Bucklers Hard, where we were able to walk down and see this historic village, which we remembered visiting in 1978 (after another wet time in the new Forest). We had to drive and walk through disinfectant mats.
By now it was getting late, but finding anywhere to stop for the night was difficult. We drove down Tanners Lane, but this just ended abruptly at the mudflats by the sea. Before we knew it we had reached Lymington. We drove through this attractive town towards Pennington and after doing several circuits, stopped on a side road near the Yacht Haven at 6.45 in the last of the light.
Adrian cooked the meal of sausage and bacon. There was no traffic during the night, but we were both kept awake by the continuous rain – we were glad that we hadn't stopped at anywhere liable to flooding.
We walked around the Ancient Place Mill - a pleasant wild looking area with the marshes of Christchurch beyond. We walked up and peeked into the Priory, then drove on through Tuckton to Wick, where we saw Lisa's road and then drove towards Hengisbury Head – all of which is closed because of the foot and mouth epidemic. We drove on past the familiar areas of Southbourne driving up Southern Road for Adrian's benefit (his grandmothers former house) and as far as Boscombe Pier, where the angry sea was pounding the sandy beach, before making our way back to Sheila and Martin's for an "oldies weekend"
Armed with several purchases which Adrian had made at the museum at Langton Matravers, we headed for a campsite Longthorns Farm, north of Wool, not far from Bovingdon Camp. We chose a second field and enjoyed the remoteness – fields and hedges all round and a wonderful sky which we watched until it got dark, not long before 10 o'clock. We were pleased to be able to still see the comet. This is our sort of campsite – minimal facilities and £2.50 per night! We ate excellent pork chops for supper, bought along with more shopping at Somerfields in Swanage.
Once there we tried to sort out my camera and after visiting two shops with helpful assistants, accepted the fact that it isn't easily repairable. We bought a disposable camera and felt embarrassed each time we used it! We took my film in for one hour developing and found the pictures okay (up to the exposure 22, when the camera broke). Meanwhile we wandered around Swanage – bought some filled rolls and buns, which we ate in the shelter by the beach.
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