I have very fond memories of holiday’s as a child and always looked forward to spending time with Great Auntie Kathleen and Great Uncle Len who lived in Somerford, then Hampshire.
I lived in West Sussex at the time, a stones throw from the shingle beach and not too far from the bright lights of Brighton, but holiday’s with my Aunt and Uncle always stick in my mind.
It’s funny what you remember, the journey through the New Forest that took 2 hours before the M27 was built, that my Uncle used to change his car every year – although it was always a Datsun, we used to save the glass lemonade bottles and take them down to the shop to get 10p back and up the road from my Aunt’s house was a giant De Havilland plane on display as it was the site of the old WW2 aviation factory, but it was our days out that I used to love.
One highlight of my stay was always a trip to the New Forest for a “picker nicker” (picnic) and a chance to fish for minnows, see the New Forest Ponies and visit the Witches Coven in Burley and I was keen to recreate this with my own children to see if their excitement was the same as mine.
Our first stop was Puttles Bridge in the New Forest where we arrived armed with a clear bucket and some fishing nets. The kids needed no encouragement to ditch their shoes and socks and we soon wading knee-deep in the water to catch minnows, pond skaters and even a newt. We were there a good two hours fishing and playing on the rope swings before I had to take Isaac to his cub camp on the promise that we have to return very soon.
Spotting New Forest Ponies also had the same appeal it had when I was little and although there were loads in the heathland, it was those that were minding their own business in the middle of the road and stopping the cars that caused the most excitement.
The village of Burley was the same as I remember, with the Witches Coven shop still there, selling the same witches I had in my bedroom as a child. The village is exactly the same as I remember although on our visit the annual Fairy Festival was running and much to Eliza’s delight there were fairies and elves wandering around the village as well as the festival site.
Another favourite adventure from my visit to see my Aunt and Uncle was a trip to the beaches Studland, crossing Poole Harbour on the chain ferry and playing on the beach and in the sand dunes. Our visit didn’t disappoint and the kids spent hours on the beach, playing in the sea and we even found a sand lizard basking in the sun!
My final and top highlight of my visits to Hampshire and Dorset as a child was seeing the Red Arrows perform over the sea front. Nowadays Bournemouth has taken this to another level with the introduction of the free Bournemouth Air Festival which is being held next weekend.
It is still a love of mine and we never miss it, visiting all four days of the show and camping on the beach to see all our favourites which included the RAF Typhoon, Brietling Wingwalkers, Chinook and Black Cat helicopters and of course, the Red Arrows themselves.
Does visiting the South Coast of England as a holiday destination have the same appeal as when I was young?
Yes, and it’s better than ever, with these fun festivals added into the mix!
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