It’s been a while before I have found time to do this, and I’m really thankful that I keep daily notes to jog my memory. I’ll be relying on those pretty heavily this time.
THURSDAY 22ND AUG
It’s a sign that these little’uns – our niece and nephew, Evie (13) and Lenny(8) aren’t so little any more, as for the very first time they arrived from London under their own steam (or perhaps their own diesel?) . Hitherto, we have met their parents half way, in Guildford, and carried out the swap-over. But this time, they came by train. It’s a pretty easy journey – they get on the train at East Croydon and get off at Portchester – no changes required, just a straightforward trip. And so it was that I trotted off to the station to greet them on that sunny Thursday. The trip had gone very smoothly and our first priority was to feed them.
Fed and watered, we set about the final tasks that needed to be done before we set off and then off we went. It was an uneventful journey and we arrived on site just before 4 pm. It was our second stay here at the Hunters Moon site within a couple of months, so we felt quite at home. We had a good choice of pitches and were soon settled in. The kids and Paul took the dogs for a quick walk and comfort break, while I did a bit more stowing of things. It was going to be a tight squeeze with 2 dogs, 2 kids and 2 adults but we actually managed very well.
When the walkers returned, we decided we would pop into the nearest town – Wareham – and have an explore. We made for the Quay and by sheer luck, managed to find a parking space. We crossed the bridge over the river and set off for a walk along the towpath. It was a beautiful evening and lots of people were taking advantage of the early evening sunshine at this very pretty spot.
We were all getting a bit peckish, though, and decided to have dinner at the Quay Inn. They have a roof deck and we found ourselves a table there. It was very pleasant watching the sun as it started to set. Almost like being on holiday – oh – wait………
Then it was home, a few games, ablutions and bed. A lovely first day.
FRIDAY 23RD AUG
We all had a good night and awoke refreshed and raring to go. The first job, however, was stowing all the bedding and getting the van into a state where we could actually move around. No mean feat!
Breakfast devoured and snacks and drinks packed, we set off about 10 am. Our first stop was Norden, where there is a mining museum which we thought the kids might enjoy. We parked and set off for the Museum only to find that it only opened at weekends. Foiled!
We walked up to the platform, where we bought drinks and a snack and then walked up to the view of Corfe Castle, which was an obvious photo opportunity, especially as a steam train chose that moment to depart for Swanage.
Lenny had a good bit of exercise playing on the very nicely designed climbing frames while we sat and watched, wishing we had as much energy as him!
As we were near Corfe Castle, we decided we’d pop and have a look at the castle, as it’s pretty impressive. Corfe was heaving but again, we struck lucky. It was very hot indeed by now and also nearly lunchtime, so we decided to have our lunch there at the charming National Trust Tea Room, which has a garden that affords stunning views of the castle. The sun was beating down mercilessly by now and we were lucky enough to get a table in the shade.
Lunch was very pleasant – although we were set upon by a marauding wasp! As has already been said, it was blisteringly hot, so we decided to leave actually visiting the castle itself until another day, when we would rock up up in the cool of the early morning. So we decided to go back to Wareham and see if we could hire a boat for a couple of hours.
Parking in Wareham was not easy, so Paul dropped us at the hire place and went off while we did the business of hiring a small motor boat. Larks! It was much cooler and very pleasant indeed on the water. We had a couple of hours and went up river first, admiring and slightly envious of the properties whose gardens had river frontage. Lucky people. The dogs were flakers and required regular water, bless them.
We turned round and went downstream and witnessed a very amusing (to us) and embarrassing (to her) SUP incident. She seemed to fall off in slow motion and completely disappeared under water, briefly, before re-emerging, coughing and spluttering. We had the good grace to hide our mirth. The good lord only knows how (or indeed if!) she got back on.
The “beach” area by the Quay was thronged with kids and dogs cooling off in the river. It was lovely to see everyone having such simple fun. The downstream area was much busier with lots of boats, but all too soon it was time to hand back the boat.
After we had handed back the boat, it was definitely time for an ice-cream. Sadly, everybody else had the same idea – a visit to The Quayside Barn Ice Cream Parlour. But it was well worth queuing and – once again – we managed to bag a table in the shade. Ice creams all round – even the dogs, and boy they went down well!
We walked back to the car and drove back to site for tea. The kids went to the play area while I cooked. We ate our tea and then decided that, as it was a nice evening we’d pop down to Poole Harbour wall to do a spot of crabbing. We didn’t catch any crabs but did catch a small spiny fish which went straight back.
It had been an action packed day, but there was still some life left in the kids so they went to the play area before bed. A lot of the kids were cycling around the site, as is often the case. We felt the lack of bikes quite keenly but there was nothing to be done about it. Bed beckoned and we were all soon in the land of nod.
SATURDAY 24th AUGUST
We decided to make it a beach day and set off for Weymouth. We felt the fear – Weymouth? On a Bank Holiday Weekend?? – but did it anyway. We were right to be a bit nervous about our decision! The beach looked not to have one square inch that wasn’t covered in people! Far too peopley for my liking, but a dip in the sea was very tempting (although guess who ended up minding the wet dogs?). We managed to find a parking space, walked to the beach and found a space just big enough for us and spread out our towels. The kids and Paul were off! There were loads of dogs on the beach and everyone had food so – after they had had a swim, I had the “joy” of trying to keep them under some sort of control. I and my towel ended up covered in wet sand! But we had a nice time. We went up to the quay to have our lunch. Stupidly we had run out of cash (easily done!) so Lenny only got to a go on the Waltzer at the nearby fair. He was in a carriage on his own and I was praying that the chaps wouldn’t spin it too much and scare him to death. They were very kind though and spun it just enough for it to be fun and he eventually got off quite happy, so no harm done.
We decided to walk into town and found a pet shop on the way, where we bought the boys a new collar each, their current ones being a little snug. They are growing up fast! We found a cafe that was selling smoothies so took advantage of them. We had a nice shady table and took it in turns to go shopping (Lenny and I) and in search of a cashpoint (Paul and Evie). Lenny ended up with a nice new T-shirt from surf/skateboard shop Saltrock.
Shopping done, we went back to the car and started the drive home. We stopped off in Wareham for another ice cream (we’re on holiday,right?!), the kids had a swim in the chilly River Frome (see the amusing video of Lenny entering the water, here) and then we went back to the site. The kids went off to the play area and Paul and I relaxed with the boys for a while.
When dinner beckoned, we decided we’d pop down to our local to eat. The pub rejoices under the moniker “The Silent Woman” and has a charming image of a headless woman as a pub sign, the implication being that is the only way a woman could be silenced?
We had a nice meal and then returned to site where it was showers all round, games and bed after another action packed day!
Sunday 25th August
We had a slow start today. I think we were all a bit tired after our exertions the last couple of day so I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, which went down well and the kids enjoyed helping to cook them on the Cadac.
There was cycle hire just up the road in Wareham Forest and Paul took the kids off to hire bikes and go for a ride along the Sika Trail, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. I stayed at home with the boys, took them for a stroll, relaxed, read and prepared lunch for the ravening hordes. They returned as hungry as expected! Luckily I was ready for them.
After lunch it was time for a little more relaxation, a quick dash to Sainsers for provisions and then a late afternoon trip to Lulworth Cove, for a dip. There was – as ever – quite a queue to get to the car park and then it took a while to find a space as it was heaving.
When we had left Wareham, it had been a sunny, warm afternoon. By the time we hit the beach a sea haar had descended and Lulworth looked less like the limpid turquoise pool in all the publicity blurb and more like a grey Thursday in Dungeness. Frankly, I was pretty disappointed in Lulworth. The beach is very rocky so getting comfy is not easy, the walk into the sea is very rocky and I actually found it all a bit unnecessary! The kids didn’t think much of it either! But we’ve been. We shall never go again.
Back from Lulworth, the kids went off to the play area while I cooked dinner, we ate, we washed up, we played dominoes, we did a little packing and thence bed.
Monday 26th August
The weather forecast was good, so we decided to pack up early and beat for home and a nice swim in the pool. This turned out to be a good plan! We swam and lazed most of the day and then ordered in a Chinese. Uncle D came round to help us eat it it and then games and bed. Paul and Lenny slept in the house while Evie and I slept in the caravan. We both slept very soundly and were rudely awoken by the flipping dustbin men!
Tuesday 27th August
We packed up all their stuff neatly and suddenly it was time time to stick them back on the train for home. We had a great time and, as always, wish we saw more of them. There may not be a next time (in the caravan) as we just might be on the boat by next year. Time will tell. There may be a long hiatus now as we are busy packing up and downsizing. The house is sold and we move out in just over a month. WATCH THIS SPACE