Hampshire’s Tardis

Hampshire’s Tardis

Some folk will almost certainly be already fed up with the amount of TV coverage of the Rugby World Cup! If Downton and Strictly are also not your scene, my commiserations.

Not wishing you to be left out of society, can I suggest an alternative way of filling your days and evenings. This time of year is a perfect opportunity to spend a few days away in the New Forest, particularly as the weather forecasters are promising three October weeks of Indian summer.

What better time of the year to take leisurely stroll along dedicated forest paths with all the dappled shade and streams, the ponies, donkeys, deer and wild pigs. Perhaps you would rather relax on a bench at Hatchet Pond with your favourite book.

You might want to centre your stay in the Forest at Brockenhust and book into the Pig in the Forest, run by Robin Hutson, one of the founders of Hotels du Vin. The Pig is very on trend at the moment. Brockenhurst is also home to a multitude of smart cafes and an excellent new Italian restaurant, Albero.

If you are feeling energetic you will find a superb bike hire and workshop in the centre of the village, opposite Albero’s. In the New Forest your bike is your vehicular equivalent to Dr Who’s Tardis. You find yourself popping up in some amazing places.

Who could imagine cycling off-road a few miles north of Brockenhurst, through woodland and past heathland, stopping to admire beautiful, quaint thatched cottages and out of nowhere appears a quintessential old English country pub, the Oak Inn at Bank, near Lyndhurst.

I beg you, don’t pass by. Carlos, the Portuguese landlord and his staff are friendly, professional and brilliant. Sit yourself down in spotless tavern and try the garlic mushrooms, followed by chicken pie and home cooked fresh vegetables and chips. When I say chips I don’t mean just chips, these are a mouth full of heaven. To follow, maybe, fruit pie or crumble, all washed down by the best pint of London Pride you have ever tasted. A meal at the Oak will restore your faith in English pubs.

This year the leaves on the trees are turning early, so a short trip to Exbury Gardens, owned by a branch of the Rothschild family will be breath-taking in October. Incidentally, Exbury holds the national collection of rhododendrons.

On your way back take a stroll around Beaulieu, a small cobbled village with many photographic opportunities. Then, close by, visit Bucklers Hard, on the Beaulieu River. This is another Tardis moment. This is where many of Nelson’s ships which fought at Trafalgar were built (very hard to imagine).

Following the water theme, you may want to visit Lymington, with all its marinas and smart shops. If you are into your leisure gear look out for the amazing bargains to be had at this time of year. End of season polo shirts, rugby tops (oupps, sorry) and sailing jackets etc.

You never know, when you step out of the Tardis, what beautiful sights and surprises await you. Soon you will have forgotten how much irritation you had in your sitting room and begin to marvel at the pleasure and excitement you have found in your new active lifestyle.

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