I have been away from this space for a while due to my daughters’ school half term break and all the ensuing family commitments. It has been a busy and full time. Now finally I can sit down and share a few of the highlights of our past fortnight. Unfortunately my camera is playing up and quite a few of my photos are out of focus so I shall have to take it in to be fixed again 😦
Firstly we went away for a few days to Hampshire, where we often go in the autumn half term break. My father used to take my sister and I away for a week every autumn half term to a static caravan near The New Forest. It was father-daughter time and we enjoyed the freedom of being away from the watchful (and often controlling) eye of our mother, roaming around, playing cards, TV dinners and late night movies 🙂 It was one of the only times we experienced our father as relaxed (away from the stresses of work and homelife). Often he was impatient and distant, so it was good to see him in a different light. It is probably due to this, that it feels so right to visit this area at this time of year. I do feel drawn back year after year.
We stayed in the Marwell Hotel near Marwell Zoo . We have visited the Zoo a couple of times in the past when staying at the hotel, but we wanted to explore the New Forest this time and our daughters were keener to swim in the heated hotel pool in the mornings and evenings – leaving just enough time for the swimsuits to dry inbetween!
The hotel is set in the midst of a wooded area and feels very special for this reason. There are long gangways separating parts of the hotel which makes it quite unique. Our daughters can never resist running up and down them at any opportunity!
Even the pool area is surrounded by trees and there is plenty of natural light flooding in. I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
The hotel does good rates for families, including a very generous breakfast buffet in a nice ambience and of course the use of a hotel pool. We had a lovely family room with bunk beds for the girls (not that my youngest slept in there – that was Daddy’s treat ;-) ).
On Tuesday, after a swim (of course!), we headed to Lyndhurst to orientate ourselves and find somewhere for lunch. We found a car park and were pleased to discover The New Forest Centre there, which also has a lovely cafe with tasty and affordably priced food. After lunch, we looked at the gift shop and then wandered into the museum for a little look around. We were very impressed by the museum: There was plenty of information on the history of the New Forest and interractive ways of relating to all the activities taking place in the area.
The girls also did a simple activity of key ring making which they enjoyed. We spent about an hour in there and were really pleased with all that was on offer. I would highly recommend a visit – very educational and above all fun!
Entry to the The New Forest National Park is free and there are plenty of walking trails, including the well known Tall Trees Trail, which we walked last year. After our visit to the States this summer, where we saw some very tall trees (!) we decided nothing could compare, so we walked an easy trail in Bolderwood instead.
It was a 2 mile circular trail, with the chance of seeing deer. We really enjoyed the walk through the autumnal landscape, which ended at a Deer Viewing Platform. Unfortunately there weren’t any deers around, but luckily we spotted a majestic stag by the roadside a couple of minutes drive down the road, so we weren’t disappointed after all. 🙂
In fact we spotted numerous ponies and the wonderful sight of a mother pig and a big group of youngsters – such a delight!
The animals are owned by Commoners (local folk). They are allowed to graze the forest and in return they keep the area from growing too wild, eating all the gorse and brambles. Pigs are mainly seen in the autumn months when they roam around eating acorns and things that would make the ponies sick, so it is a very beneficial arrangement for all.
After a good walk, we treated ourselves to a slice of cake at a lovely tea room near Brockenhurst that we stumbled upon quite by chance as we struggled to find a parking spot in the village. It is part of a Garden Centre and you need to walk through several long greenhouse structures to access the tearoom, but what a find!
Really quirky with delicious cake and a lovely variety of herbal teas – we felt spoilt! The Garden Centre itself was also a treasure trove of interesting items!
Apart from our trip away, we enjoyed meeting up with two sets of friends that we only every see in the school holidays. We had lots of fun, trying to catch falling leaves and running around together.
We went up to Wisley again – one of our favourite places as I mentioned in my last post – to see our favourite friends.
As soon as we arrived, we headed straight over to the girls’ favourite spot where they immediately immersed themselves in their favourite fantasy games and my dear friend and I had lots of time to catch up on each other’s lives, sitting in the autumn sunshine. Bliss!
I cut out some strips of green card beforehand and stuck a strip of double sided sticky tape down the middle so the girls could make themselves simple autumn leaf crowns. It was a hit 🙂
We all had a lovely time as ever. Due to the shortening days, the Garden closed earlier than usual, much to everyones disappointment. Time flies with good friends!
My mother also visited us at the weekend and we spent a lovely day at a privately owned garden Borde Hill in Sussex. Whenever my mother visits we try to take her somewhere nice in nature so she really enjoys her visit and it’s a relaxing break from her life in London. We often visit Borde Hill for my Birthday in June as the roses are at their most full and fragrant at that time of year and the place is truely magical (well, that’s how this Midsummer baby sees it 🙂 ). We have never visited in the autumn before, but were not disappointed! The autumn colour was spectacular and as it has been so mild this autumn, lots of flowers were still in bloom and there were even butterflies.
Borde Hill always hosts a Hallowe’en trail in the autumn half term break and we were really impressed by how creatively and thoughtfully it was put together. Our daughters thought it was fantastic.
It ends with a visit to the “Witch’s Lair”. The witch was away for a little while when we arrived there – I do think the girls were secretly relieved!! Daddy played the witch for them – far less scary!
There are two restaurants at Borde Hill. We went to Cafe Elvira which was great. The staff were so friendly and the food was excellent – so after a tasty lunch, we couldn’t help return for cake later on! The cafe ambience is light and airy and the food is really reasonably priced. It is separate from Borde Hill Garden, so you don’t need to go in the garden to visit the cafe. I would highly recommend it.
We also made some slime using this youtube tutorial that the lovely Helen shared a couple of weeks ago. It was really fun to make. As you can see the girls were delighted by the process and the result 🙂
Unfortunately the shaving foam smell is a bit overpowering for them so they aren’t playing with it so much now, but sometimes the fun is in the making. 🙂
Apart from these highlights of our half term, I spent time finishing Birthday makings for my eldest daughter’s 11th Birthday and organising a Hallowe’en party for the same day. I shall write more on that soon. For now, I am taking a deep breath after putting the house back in order and am looking forward to a different pace now the children have returned to school. After the busyness, a moment of quiet….Breathing in, breathing out….we need both…
I do hope you are all enjoying spending time outside at this glorious time of year.
Because it is still so mild here in the UK, I leave you with a favourite autumn song from our early years time at school. So beautiful sung in a round. It was the only song that comforted my youngest when she was a baby, so it will always be a special song for me.
Yellow the Bracken,
Golden the leaves,
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves,
Mist on the Hillside,
Clouds grey and white
Autumn good morning, summer goodnight.