...since the Grand National! One of the (although certainly not unique) more unusual things about the New Forest is the sheer number of large animals that seem to be oblivious to the fact that there are cars hurtling by, they just ignore roads completely, seemingly treating them as a kind of "area of suprisingly little grass" (or some such horse-thought)...at least 3 of the traffic jams encountered today could be attributed to either equine -
- or bovine -
- related causes...!
The first stop of the day was to the visitors centre and museum (museum saved for a rainy day) which is located in the natural "traffic jam" of Lyndhurst. There are actually *permanent* signs on the roads leading to this (otherwise charming) little town announcing "long delays", and it seems that there is a good reason for this - if you look at this place on a map you will see that, thanks to the limited number of roads in the locale, Lyndhurst falls at a bit of a crossroads making it a perpetual bottleneck...
Good for the resident shop owners, though, as once you get in, you are kind of stuck...(they must do alright too, because the local garages were only selling Ferrari and Maserati cars)...!
Here is a shot down the high street -
- In the visitors centre I obligingly coughed up two quid for a nice large blow-up map of the area in the cunningly placed "entrance shop" only to find a free one 30 seconds later in the "information centre" at the back...doh!
Then a quick visit (before the parking ticket ran out) to both of the two camping shops in town for some essentials (like a tent pole replacement to fix the broken one before the festival season starts for the year) plus a few other "outdoor" things that seemed to have been mislaid in the move, and (accidentally on purpose) skipping the enormous queue all the round way the one way system by shooting up the wrong lane, it was time for lunch...
The venue was the "Green Dragon" in the *tiny* village of Brook. A charming (thatched-cottage-style) place that has had a license to serve intoxicating beverages for over 200 years! -
- I went for one of the specials, an absolutely melt in the mouth shoulder of lamb which slightly unfortunately arrived sat in a rather unexciting mint jus. It was accompanied by one of the worst, overcooked selections of veg I have ever had the unpleasant opportunity to poke with a fork, and the roast spuds were nothing better than average, a *bit* on the crunchy side, but *no* way near fluffy inside (I only ate two of them) -
- oh and also (and this is funny because I predicted this exact eventuality about 5 minutes before it happend), Flyingpops' Brie Baguette turned up with bacon all over it, so that was sent back to the kitchen. It flew back in *just* about the amount of time it *might* have taken to make a new one (well, *almost* anyway)... ;)
From here we moved on to inspect the interestingly moniker'ed (is that a word?) "Sandy Balls" campsite (God only knows what made them pick that name) for the site of a possible later-in-the-year break (which I really wish we were taking now!). Take a look with me down the "high street" onsite, it's actually more like a little village than a campsite! -
- Let me leave you in no doubt that this place is certainly facility rich - there is a pub, an italian resturant, a SPAR supermarket (bit overpriced) at least one swimming pool (but there might be one indoor and one outdoor, we didn't check specifically, but the aerial photo seemed to hint at it)...plus cycle hire, and obviously loads of organised kids entertainment...
Interestingly, the place was *absolutely* packed out, even this early in the season and to be quite honest, I felt a bit put off by that, as *quite* what it is going to be like later in the year when the weather improves, I just don't know -
- Oh and I'm not exactly jumping up and down at the thought of volutarily pitching the tent on a spot of land absolutely *covered* in stones either (ouch!), each of the pitches seems to be deliberately made up of shingle! Now, I don't know about you, but I normally have at least a half-hearted go at getting *rid* of all the stones from where I am planning to pitch my tent, *not* trying to find the greatest concentration possible before settling down! Very strange for a bunch of so called "professionals" in the field of camping... -
- All in all though, it did look like a reasonably nice place perhaps for a weekend away (if not ideal for a full blown camping holiday)...
That done, some "interesting" little roads took us to where the day finished off - in Burley (a *total* tourist trap) where this mother and foal has decided to hang out in the car park for some odd reason (actually, it might have been all the hay that *somehow* ended up there (wonder if they shoo away the not-so-photogenic ones each morning? Ok, sorry, getting a bit cynical there!)) -
- and there was one other fringe benefit of the stop over (*slurp*) -
- only really a tiny shop, no tour, or demonstrations or anything like that (apart from the "on request" bottling demonstration, of course)....so not really a patch on the Cornish Cyder Farm experience...but hey, the "Cyder" they put out from there tastes rather like it belongs in the toilet (*before* human-digestive-processing) and this New Forest stuff is rather nice actually...so "Cheers"...and now I am off to bed...nite... ;)
Prague Christmas Market
19 hours ago