New Forest. Hampshire.

Day two of our Christmas Road Trip to Dorset and Hampshire. The New Forest in Hampshire.

https://www.thenewforest.co.uk/

There are lots of waymarked walks and trails on the Forest, all starting at different car parks. Routes are circular. We started with the Wilverley Wander walk, from one of several carparks in that area. The trail winds through diverse and working woodland and was about 4.5K over gravel paths.

Next stop was the Heritage Centre, where we learnt about the Forest, it’s management and history.

Forest management.
The New Forest ponies .
The New Forest in WW2.

https://www.newforestheritage.org.uk

Time for another walk and this was a short 0.25 mile stroll to the Knightwood Oak- one of the most famous trees in the New Forest, believed to have been planted before 1600.

A December view.

There was also the much younger (1979) Queen’s Oak…

Last stop of the day- it is December and the light was fading- was the Blackwater Arboretum Trail 0.75 km, past tree species from around the world.

It was a wet, cold December day, but we discovered a winter Forest. A Forest resting. Hibernation and decay was the theme, brown and grey the predominant colours. Nevertheless beautiful in a different way- rugged and raw. We had a great day!

Ponies and dogs!

Lastly a big shout out to The Forest Inn at Ferndown Forest Golf Club. We had a delicious evening meal, the staff were friendly and they welcomed our three dogs. https://ferndownforestgolfcourse.co.uk/the-forest-inn#0266b56b-98c4-455b-9db1-302ef0c94eb8

Wimborne Minster. Dorset.

Friday’s whistle stop road trip was Wimborne Minster.

Wimborne Minster is a market town in Dorset in South West England, and the name of the Church of England church in that town.

King Ethelred, the brother of Alfred the Great, is buried here in Wimborne Minster.

A late lunch was at The White Hart, in the Square.

Scallops highly recommended at thus lovely cosy, friendly pub.

https://whitehartwimborne.co.uk/

The main reason for the trip?

Live at The Tivoli, Wimborne.

https://www.tivoliwimborne.co.uk/

Wimborne and The Tivoli Theatre – you were great!

Plymouth, Devon, England.

We had a quick road trip and overnight stay down to Plymouth in Devon this weekend, approximately a five and half hour journey from East Sussex.

Plymouth is a port city in Devon, known for its maritime heritage and historic Barbican district with narrow, cobbled streets. We stayed at the Plymouth Travel Lodge: https://www.travelodge.co.uk/

View from Travel Lodge window.

We were there to see a friend in the touring production of Dolly Parton’s Musical starring Louise Redknapp at the Plymouth Theatre Royal: https://theatreroyal.com/

Post performance meet-up was at The Bank: https://www.thebankplymouth.co.uk/

The Bank, Plymouth

The next morning we walked down to the harbour catching up with family.

It was a whistle stop trip, but a city we will definitely return to in the future.

Nottingham. England.

Great road trip to Nottingham last weekend.

There was the lace quarter.

And Robin Hood of course…

Lord Byron had a presence apparently .

We wandered the Christmas market , the canals and some great vintage shops.

There were buskers- good and bad…

Best purchase? Moonshine

Iconic moment? Meeting up with football legend Brian Clough.

Although I had never been, I had never rated Nottingham. How wrong I was. We had a fabulous day!

The Bike Circus Clonakilty.

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennel

We need this in Eastbourne…

The ethos of the Bike Circus is to create a community-centred space with a focus on education and inclusivity; it is modelled on some of the many community bike workshops that the founders have visited internationally, including ‘B!ke’ in Canada and ‘La Cicleteria’ in Spain, and will rely on membership, rather than retail, to keep the doors open.

https://westcorkpeople.ie/health-lifestyle/all-you-need-to-know-about-clonakiltys-new-bike-circus/

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west

Matchmaking Festivals and Tidy Towns.

These were two events I was intrigued by when I was in Southern Ireland.

Starting with the Matchmaking Festival: Apparently if you want to find love, all you have to do is visit Ireland, in particular , Lisdoonvarna, a tiny, rural town in County Clare. Every fall, this little town is home to a huge matchmaking festival, where thousands of people flock to find “The One.” The festival mostly targets rural farmers who don’t have great access to singles bars or Tinder — but it’s been a local tradition for 150 years.

Then there is the Tidy Town competition: this national initiative was launched in 1958 by the Irish Tourist Board: Bord Fáilte (now Fáilte Ireland). It was originally part of ‘Tostal’, a nationwide festival celebrating all things Irish.

From the start, the primary focus of TidyTowns was to encourage communities to improve their local environment and make their area a better place to live, work and visit. The competition aspect was an important element in developing friendly rivalry that would help boost standards across the country. However, the emphasis was always on participating rather than winning as the very act of taking part brought benefits to the community- a focus on long-term results.

So this finishes my series of posts detailing my road trip across the West Coast and the Ring Of Kerry. The West of Ireland is all about the stunning, awe inspiring and breathtaking landscapes and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Apparently the East is all about the myths and legends, so that will be my next Irish trip.

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

Island Gardens of Garnish, Bantry Bay, Southwest Ireland.

The final, and one of my favourite, stops of our South Western Ireland trip was the beautiful Garnish Island- reached by a short ferry trip from the village of Glengarriff, overlooking the waters of Bantry Bay and set against the back drop of the Caha Mountains.

Garnish island extends to 37 acres and is renowned for its gardens which flourish in the mild humid micro climate of Glengarriff harbour assisted by a pine shelter belt.

Italian garden Garnish Island.

A damp visit that in no way took away the beauty of the island- I was entranced. On the way over we passed Seal Island. The ferryman drew in close, allowing us to say hello and take some photos.

It was an enchanting and enriching afternoon and a lovely conclusion to our road trip.

Home

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west

Bantry House, Bantry County Cork.

First port of call on the penultimate day of our tour was Bantry House, a private estate and the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry- still lived in by the family. Set in magnificent Italian gardens , inspired by the travels of the second Earl, this was a highlight of the trip for me.

Visit, have afternoon tea, stay a night or two, or get married. Whatever you do, you cannot fail to be moved by this beautiful, slightly ramshackle house and gardens. I was instantly smitten with the experience, enhanced by the knowledgeable and charming guide that took us around.

https://www.bantryhouse.com

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west

Cobh, Western Ireland

The departure town for over three million Irish Emigrants and final port of call for the RMS Titanic. We visited the Cobh Heritage Cente, which tells the story of Irish emigration through to the 1950s and traces the history of Cobh over the centuries. Starting with the indentured servants who were transported to the colonies to work on the plantations in the 17th century, to Annie Moore, who with her two brothers were the first emigrants to be processed on the newly opened Ellis Island in New York in 1891.

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

Cork. Ireland.

Today Cork was one of the stops on our tour of Western Ireland.

Cork is one of the oldest cities in Ireland. This medieval city extends from South Gate Bridge to North Gate Bridge and is divided by a long Main Street- the North and South Street. The medieval Main Street would have been narrower, messier and smellier, than its current form, but still followed the same route. Many of the lanes and alleyways that led off the Main Street still exist today. The city centre is an island positioned between two channels of the River Lee, which meet downstream at the eastern end of the city centre.

It was and still is, plainly a merchant’s city…

As a librarian I had to pay a passing glance at the city library. Loved the window display:

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west

Puck Fair.

Puck Fair is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs. It takes place annually 10–12 August in Killorglin, County Kerry.

Held in Killorgan, Co Kerry each year, a wild mountain goat is crowned king of the town by the Queen of Puck, who is traditionally a young local schoolgirl. There is a coronation parade and King Puck rules the town until his dethronement on the festival’s final day.

The first day of Puck is known as “the gathering”. On this day the Puck goat is enthroned on a stand in the town square and the horse fair is held. The second day of Puck is known as the “Fair day”. On this day a general cattle fair is held. The third and last day of Puck is known as the “scattering” day and on this day the goat is removed from his stand and his reign as king Puck ends and he is returned to the wild Kerry

Travelling around Ireland in October, we missed the Puck Fair, but I loved the legend.

https://www.theringofkerry.com/puck-fair

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland