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10th November 2013 - 5th December 2013
Hampshire and Dorset
Sunday 10th November 2013
The White Horse Inn, Winterbourne Bassett, Lat: 51.47385, Long: 01.85330, (67 Miles).
Well I nearly dropped a clanger today, we had decided that we would stop at a Britstop overnight near Swindon and although the handbook indicated there was not a necessity to contact them first, we always feel it polite to do so, it was only when I looked at the Britstop book for the phone number I noticed it (a farm shop) was closed until March! Instead we chose “The Whitehorse Inn" at Winterbourne Basset in fact only 8 mile further, I rang and they were more than happy for us to stay the night, the only thing was they were closed tonight so we were unable to eat or drink there. Not wanting to arrive too early we asked the site managers if it was OK to stay over the 12 noon departure time, it was and we did and left Warwick at 2:00 pm and despite a slight “hiccup” at Swindon (driving along the wrong road) we arrived at the Inn at 4:00 pm. As the Inn was now closed we easily found a nice flat place to park (next to the chickens, ducks, geese and a nanny goat with 2 kids) and with the inn being situated along a quiet village lane at least ½ a mile from the main road, we anticipate a good night’s sleep.
Monday 11th November 2013
Sandy Ball Holiday Village, near Fordingbridge, Lat: 50.93287, Long 01.75708, (52 Miles).
We did have a great night’s sleep very peaceful and got up a bit later then we intended, although we didn’t need to rush off this morning. In fact we left at about 10:00 am, on a very miserable wet and misty morning, we certainly didn’t see “The White Horse sculptor” on the chalk hillside near the village. We decided to take a different route to Salisbury across the plain instead of going through Marlborough, not a great difference in mileage and a road we have travelled before. What we didn’t anticipate was driving through the town centre of Salisbury to arrive at the Tesco Supermarket on the outskirts of the city on a retail park, either Betty or the navigator (Jenny) got it wrong, nothing to do with me, I’m only the driver. After a “major” shop at Tesco we had a steady run to Fordingbridge and checking in at Sandy Balls, we found our pitch on a pleasant part of the huge complex, not far from the amenities and we relaxed for the rest of the day.
Tuesday 12th November 2013
An ideal morning (warm and dry) to wash the outside of the motorhome, the first opportunity for a few weeks and with a water tap at the rear of the pitch it made it so much easier to rinse the suds off. After lunch we decided to go for a walk towards the River Avon (Hampshire), however we had only got the “rough” directions on the map of the camp site; we never did reach the river, but had a nice walk over meadows and through woods, nevertheless. When we returned to the motorhome we got changed to go to the Leisure Centre for a swim, we were most impressed a lovely pool, long enough for a few lengths of breaststroke and a very hot spa to sit in to relax, it was very enjoyable and free entrance included in the camp site fee of £10 per night, a real find.
Wednesday 13th November 2013
Another relaxed morning and we organised some more of our “stays” for the week after we leave Ulwell, where we are on Friday for 2 weeks. We are staying at the Caravan Club site at Hunters Moon in Wareham Forest before returning here for another 4 days. We went to the “Welcome Building” to book it and because we have booked our further stay whilst we are still here, have received a 10% discount, so our next stay will only cost £9 a night, a bargain. Another enjoyable visit to the swimming pool this afternoon and despite a very stiff knee I increased the amount of lengths I swam yesterday.
Thursday 14th November 2013
Ditto yesterday, relaxing and visiting the leisure centre for another swim.
Friday 15th November 2013
Ulwell Cottage Caravan Park, Swanage, Lat: 50.62764, Long 01.97216, (43 Miles).
An early swim today before we left Sandy Balls, we were in the water (just us) at 8:00 am and after a long swim and 10 minutes in the hot (very) tub we returned to the motorhome for breakfast. We left a little after eleven, still debating whether to drive the short way and cross the ferry between Sandbanks and Studland or drive a further 11 mile and drive around Bournemouth and Poole, in the end we opted for the longer way, we will probably go back via the ferry. Arriving at Ulwell Cottage Caravan Park, Ulwell being a small village between Swanage and Sandbanks we booked in at reception and received a pleasant surprise, we (I) thought that entrance to the leisure centre was chargeable (£20 each for 10 visits for “pensioners”), however the passes were included in the pitch fee and this only being £11 a night, we were more than pleased. Especially when we found our allocated pitch, like our previous stop was a fully serviced pitch with our own water tap and drainage, with gravel hard standing and a grassed area, surrounded by ranch fencing, with a great view of the Purbeck Hills. We will be very comfortable here for the next two weeks.
Saturday 16th November 2013
A very tranquil first night and despite the road being fairly close to the camp site there was very little traffic, after all it only leads down to the ferry, great to hear a Tawny Owl close by, we always find that listening to them is very relaxing for some strange reason. Late morning we walked into Swanage along a pedestrian footway I found shown on the Ordnance Survey map, slightly longer than going along the road, but nicer, although when we returned after a browse around the shops we did walk back along the promenade way to North Beach before returning to the camp site along the road. We then decided to try the swimming pool, a bit cooler than the pool at Sandy Balls but we enjoyed our swim nevertheless, pity they don’t have a spa pool at this one though. No football to watch tonight, but better still qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix from Texas so it was after midnight when we eventually went to bed.
Sunday 17th November 2013
A relaxed day, did some work on the Morris family tree, putting some additional information on to the laptop, amazing how sometimes one piece of information completes part of a puzzle. We went for another swim again this afternoon before staying up late once again tonight watching the Grand Prix.
Monday 18th November 2013
Bournemouth was our destination today for some clothes shopping, we had two options for the bus, The No 40 from Swanage to Poole and then to Bournemouth, or the N0 50 across the Ferry direct to Bournemouth and as the No 50 bus stop was outside the camp site we chose the latter. Strange when we arrived at Studland to be sitting on a bus on a ferry and then driving off the other side, we noticed the cost of our motorhome to cross would have been £7 so we were pleased we opted to go the longer way round and will now return to Sandy Balls the same way. We arrived at Bournemouth bus station next to the main shopping centre at 11:20 am (a 55 minute journey) and after a walk around for a short time made our way to Marks and Spencer to purchase trousers for us both plus some socks and underclothes for me, we found what we wanted and were soon on our way. Burger King was next for a simple lunch before doing some further shopping, we did have a “funny moment” in one shop, Jenny needed some buttons and asked the young girl where there was a haberdashery shop, it was immediately plain that she hadn’t a clue what a haberdashery was, Jenny saved her obvious embarrassment by saying quickly “for some buttons” . . . she couldn’t help us! We caught the bus back to Ulwell at 3:15 pm, passing on the way the houses along Sandbanks reputed to be the most expensive “real estate” in the UK. We were upstairs on the double-decker bus , a “Purbeck Breezer” with part of the upper deck “open” we stayed in the front covered part for the journey back, rather too cold for sitting outside, great views though as we crossed from Sandbanks to Studland on the ferry.
Tuesday 19th November 2013
The weather forecast for today was for largely unbroken sunshine, albeit cold and a bit windy and with the following days forecast not being very good we decided on a walk to Corfe Castle a distance of almost 4 mile. I used “Maps 3d" on Jenny’s iPhone in conjunction with the Ordnance Survey map to plan our route, (what a fantastic “app” Maps 3d is) and chose a route that meant we had to walk uphill first to “Nine Barrow Down” (at 634 feet) with gave us a great view of Swanage Bay.
Then walking along the mostly level ridge of “Brenscombe Hill” and then descending gradually along Ailwood Down towards Corfe with more fantastic views of the Dorset coast to the South, Poole harbour to the North and glimpses of Corfe Castle in front of us.
We eventually arrived at a point above Corfe village and had a choice of either a descent along a path to the village or a longer track which gave us a view of the castle directly below us, but entailed go down over 70 steps to the village, we decided on the better castle view and the steps.
Now we stopped counting at 200 (difficult) steps and Jenny thought I had mis-read the notice and it had read “over 170”, however when we got to the bottom a similar notice said “over 70”, someone could obviously not count! We did have a nice chat with a gentlemen half way down the steps who actually worked in Sutton Coldfield for a time and lived in a flat very close to us in 1969. We only had a short look around the village as we had been before in October 2010 and finding a nice comfy bench at the bus stop we waited there for the No 40 bus to Swanage. We thought it would be a good idea to have fish and chips in Swanage before getting the bus back to Ulwell (having done enough walking today), however we were disappointed to find the one we had eaten in before (again in 2010) closed and likewise two others we went to. Plan B, we went to the Co-operative next door to the bus station and bought 2 pizzas to have when we got back to the motorhome. The No 50 bus was waiting at the bus stop and within a short time “Nige” who has been our bus driver on every trip so far (knowing is name is “Nige” is a book in itself) dropped us at Ulwell Cottage. A great walk today in fine weather with wonderful views and we covered 5.29 miles, an early night I think.
Wednesday 20th November 2013
After two “busy” days we spent the relaxing day with another visit to the swimming pool this afternoon.
Thursday 21st November 2013
At the bus stop at 10:25 am this morning for the No 50 “Breezer” bus to Westbourne where we thought we may find a haberdashery. But only found “repair and alteration shops” with a European lady in the one and a Eurasian lady in the other, neither were able to understand what we wanted, nor could help us, we gave in and caught the M2 bus to Poole (our intended destination for the day). We both had memories on the way when the bus travelled along Upper Parkstone as Mum and Dad lived here for several years until 1988 and we used to shop along the high street (Ashley Road). We got off the bus at Poole Bus Station and went through the doors into the large Dolphin Shopping Centre and found Beales the large department store and they had a haberdashery and also what we wanted. We then browsed the stores for a while before leaving the shopping centre and walking along the high street towards the quay, finding an ideal restaurant for Jenny’s choice of fish and chips, The “Long John” where we enjoyed the “Skippers Meal”, cod and chips, pot of tea and a warm roll for £7.50, very good it was too. After lunch we did some further Christmas shopping before walking back to the bus station however we had just missed a bus so we had a coffee at “BB’s” while we waited for the No 40 to Swanage, having decided it would be easier to return to Ulwell via Swanage instead of going back via Bournemouth and the ferry, a circular tour so to speak. Arriving at Swanage we had 45 minutes to wait for the No 50 to Ulwell so another hot drink was called for with a cup of tea in Subway before food shopping in the Co-Operative supermarket and the short bus ride back to the camp site.
Friday 22nd November 2013
With good weather forecast for today we decided on the walk to Old Harry Rocks (Handfast Point) over Ballard Down. We had three choices of route, up 200 plus steps to the Obelisk, along the bottom edge of the down and then a short steep climb to the top, or continuing along the edge on a longer but more gradual track, we chose the latter. That was until we found out how very muddy the narrow track was, (it was against a hedge and in shade, thus stayed very wet), we therefore decided when we arrived at the turn to the steep track to go that way instead and found it much easier than we anticipated and we were soon on the comparatively flat top of the Down with a steady descent over 1½ miles to Old Harry Rocks.
Despite the unbroken sunshine, we were now out of the lee of the hill and exposed to a bitterly cold wind, hats and gloves were removed from the rucksack and worn our hats being pulled down well over our ears. We arrived at Handfast Point and after taking photographs of the rocks and pinnacles (and also a photo of a bird we didn’t recognise, still to be identified).
We continued our walk towards Studland, hoping to find a place out of the wind to eat our sandwiches and cake, unfortunately the only seat we found was open to the cold wind, we eventually found a more sheltered spot, but we had to eat standing up! After lunch we followed the coastal path along Studland Bay as far as Studland village where we left the public footpath and continued along a lane to the main road and the bus stop for our return to Ulwell, we did have a 40 minute wait (we obviously didn’t know our arrival time to prevent a long wait), luckily in a very comfortable bus shelter. The bus was on time and within a short time we were back in the motorhome, having walked a total of 5.78 miles, another great walk and easier going than we thought it would be. We thought a swim would be good idea after our walk so we then spent some time at the pool before relaxing for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Saturday 23rd November 2013
Very excited, we positively identified the bird we saw yesterday as a Snow Bunting a winter visitor to the UK but normally only to Scotland and the eastern England, so pleased that I got a quick “snap shot” of it. A relaxed morning before going for a swim judging it to arrive back before the start of the F1 grand Prix qualifying from Brazil at 3:00 pm.
Sunday 24th November 2013
Another quiet day, once more swimming before we watched the F1 racing, the last one this year, already suffering withdrawal symptoms!
Monday 25th November 2013
Time to parcel up Christmas presents this morning to send to Canada, we timed finishing them to perfection. We had 10 minutes to catch the No50 bus to Swanage, the post office was just 2 minutes from the bus station, (in Hallmarks), we had a lovely lady serve us at the post office counter and we then walked to the other side of the bus station to buy groceries from the Co-Operative supermarket. We caught the next No 50 back to Ulwell and within an hour and ten minutes from leaving the camp site we were back having lunch. Another visit to the pool this afternoon, we (especially me) are really seeing the benefits now of swimming almost every day, I seem to be swimming both crawl and breaststroke so much quicker, easier and longer than we did when we first started at Sandy Balls 3 weeks ago.
Tuesday 26th November 2013
The location called Dancing Ledge on the Jurassic Coast was our first destination for our long walk today. We caught the 10:39 am No 50 bus to Swanage, went into the co-operative for our 4 Ciabatta rolls (we enjoyed the same yesterday) and then boarded the No 40 (Poole bus) to the village of Langton Matravers finding the footpath sign right at the bus stop we followed the lane to a bridle way to Scratch Arse Ware (yes really and I don’t know why) and then eventually a footpath which led steeply downhill to the cliffs above Dancing Ledge, said to have received the name from the appearance of the waves “dancing” over the flat rock, however there are several other myths about the name. Very interesting however, with the cliffs being quarried above for the famous Purbeck Stone and the rock pool blasted out for a swimming pool, for a local preparatory school near the beginning of the twentieth century, at present full of rocks but plans are in place to remove them and for it to be able to be used again.
We continued on along the undulating cliff edge path only once it being particularly steep both ascending and descending at a place called Blackers Hole a cave in the cliffs and a popular breeding ground for many different species of sea birds. Almost forgot to mention, we started this walk with several layers of warm clothing on including scarves and hats, we stopped for a picnic lunch at Anvil Point Lighthouse wearing a great deal less, so pleased we decided to take both rucksacks with us! After a great lunch sitting on a rock below the lighthouse (still in use and fully automated in 1991) we were on the last stretch of our walk through Durlston Country Park towards Swanage, passing the Tilly Whim Caves, excavated during the Napoleonic War and used until the start of the 20th Century and at one time being open to the public as a tourist attraction before due to roof falls being closed on safety grounds in 1976 and unfortunately the location of the tragic death of a young lady just 3 weeks ago when she was trapped in a sea cave whist taking part in the sport of “coasting”.
We had no idea what to expect when we saw a sign for Durlston Castle, however we found a “castle” purpose-built in 1886-1887 as a restaurant for visitors to the estate, not what we were interested in. We arrived back in Swanage in plenty of time to catch the bus back to Ulwell, time actually for buying some groceries from the Co-Op (good customers us) and we arrived back in time for a swim before our evening meal. Another great day’s walking, we certainly chose the right day with glorious sunshine for most of the time and little wind and we walked a total distance of 6.77 miles.
Wednesday 27th November 2013
“Early Bird” this morning at the pool and we were swimming before 9:00 am and before breakfast, very enjoyable it was too. I went for a walk late morning towards Old Harry Rocks in the unlikely chance of spotting the Snow Bunting we saw on Saturday. I decided to climb our first option from Saturday, the 200 plus steps (actually 234, I counted them) up to the obelisk at 469 feet before walking along the top of Ballard Down towards “The Pinnacles” two chalk formations a “stack and hump” located near Handfast Point. After spending an hour there I didn’t see the Snow Bunting, however I did see Stonechat, Kestrel and a Sparrow Hawk, plus numerous sea birds so I wasn’t too disappointed. I returned the same way although not intended, when I arrived back at the obelisk, I had decided to continue along the bridle way to the road, which I thought would be simpler than descending all those steps (and a very slippery rocky slope), when I got to the summit of a short rise I saw which way the track went and it wasn’t directly to the road, in fact it was going in the opposite direction to the way I wanted to go. I turned around and returned to the obelisk and descended the steps, within 20 minutes I was back at the motorhome enjoying a cup of tea. I had a look at the Ordnance survey map when I got back, if I had gone along the bridle path I would have walked at least another mile, I made the right choice. I thought it would be a good idea to have lunch; Jenny looked at me a bit strange . . . I had arrived back after 4:00 pm; I wondered why it was getting dark!!! Still at least I could now look forward to an evening meal sooner than I expected and I was hungry, after another walk of almost 6 miles.
Thursday 28th November 2013
Up earlier today so we could have a swim before breakfast and still catch the 10:39 am “Breezer” to Swanage another visit to both Poole and Bournemouth being our goal for today. We made it to the bus stop, just outside the camp site in ample time and were first in the queue for the 11:05 No 40 to Poole at Swanage bus station, we wanted to be at the front of the queue to make sure we (kids again) sat upstairs at the front of the double-decker bus. We had great views of the coast line as we travelled along and a spectacular view of Corfe Castle as we went up Corfe High Street, with the castle right in front of us. Arriving at Poole bus station we walked through the Dolphin shopping centre to the shop we bought a shirt from last week, however they didn’t have another in a different colour in my size. A hair cut for Jenny was one of the reasons we came to Poole and while Jenny waited for her appointment I walked down to the quay to take a few photos, Sunseeker Motor cruisers factory is on the opposite side of the quay, there were 3 motor yachts moored which must have been worth at least 10 million pounds, given that a much smaller one was being offered for sale at £750,000. After walking up and down the quay I returned to the hairdressers, Jenny was still waiting (getting impatient), I didn’t stop I walked up to the shopping centre and went to M&S to see if they had got any of the trousers I wanted, they hadn’t. Jenny rang shortly afterwards, hair done and we met near “Long Johns” the fish and chip shop we went to last week and had lunch there, the Skippers special we enjoyed again. With Jenny being a lot longer than we anticipated at the hairdressers we didn’t have a great deal of time “shopping” although we did manage to find two shirts for me and two T shirts for Jenny in “The Edinburgh Woollen Shop”. Wanting to go back to Ulwell via Bournemouth and Studland Ferry, we caught the M2 bus to Bournemouth, we didn’t have long to wait they run every 3 minutes. We just had time in Bournemouth to try the M&S for trousers, again without success, before catching the bus and we were back at the camp site an hour later more exhausted than if we had walked 5 miles!!!
Friday 29th November 2013
Hunters Moon Caravan Club Site, Wareham, Lat: 50.71158. Long: 2.14630, (16 Miles).
Another swim before breakfast the last one until we get to Sandy Balls on Monday and continue with our exercise which we have enjoyed the past 3 weeks. We left just after 11:00 am with our estimated time of arrival at Wareham at 11:50 am, notwithstanding Betty deciding she wanted to return to Ulwell for some reason and repeating several times that the “high street” was closed (which one we don’t know). We only stopped once on the way at a trading estate tyre company where we had our tyre pressures checked by a very helpful tyre fitter, the stop enabled us to arrive at Hunters Moon after the required time of twelve noon. Plenty of room (although we had already booked) and we are sure we are on the same pitch as last time we were here in November 2010, we were soon organised having lunch and then relaxed for the rest of the day.
Saturday 30th November 2013-Sunday 1st December 2013
Two deserved lazy days!
Monday 2nd December 2013
Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, Fordingbridge, Lat: 50.03313, Long: 01.75731, (30 Miles).
No need to rush off this morning as we had such a short distance to drive and we calculated the time to arrive just after noon. With all the “paperwork” completed beforehand, we were in the “welcome centre” just a few minutes before we drove to our chosen pitch, which was in the same area as our stop 3 weeks ago but not underneath a large pine tree which made the inside of the motorhome so dark last time. Quickly organised we were soon relaxing and having lunch before we went to the leisure centre for a swim in the pool and a soak in the Jacuzzi.
Tuesday 3rd December 2013-Wednesday 4th December 2013
2 relaxed days, although with the fine weather I did take the opportunity to once again on Wednesday wash the outside of the motorhome the water tap being so convenient at the rear of the pitch.
Thursday 5th December 2013
Time for a “winter” clean of the inside of the motorhome, Jenny concentrating on the habitation part, whilst I did the cab using the excellent “dash cleaner” that Michael obtained for us. After another long swim and an even longer sit in the Jacuzzi we decided tonight to try the “Woodside Inn” the pub within the holiday park complex for a meal. Jenny had the steak and kidney pie (Jenny doesn’t normally have kidney, because I don’t like it, so doesn’t cook it), I had chicken and the winter vegetables, all were cooked perfectly and tasted equally good, we were more than pleased with our meals and the reasonable price. The holiday park had organised a “light and music” show, which we watched for a time before returning to the motorhome.