28 October 2008

A week in Hampshire...

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun! Lynda and I spent last week (Tuesday to Sunday) visiting her aunt and uncle, down in Hampshire, and we had a great time. The journey down was nice and easy and took us just under 2½ hours. Tuesday afternoon and evening was spent catching up on news both here at home and down in Andover.

On Wednesday, I was able to get out and do some birding for the first time in a number of weeks thanks to the local knowledge of Lynda’s aunt and uncle; they took us to a new, to me, birding site, Blashford Lakes near Ringwood. We spent almost three hours at the reserve and recorded 38 species. Birds seen included Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Buzzard, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a flock of around 40 Siskin. After a very enjoyable morning at Blashford Lakes we drove just around the corner to The Alice Lisle pub for lunch. The morning had been good; a good pub lunch is always more than acceptable!

Blashford Lakes.

Little Egret.

The Alice Lisle Inn.

After lunch we took a drive down to Bournemouth, to see the sea. I can report that the sea was there, as was the beach. For some reason no one was swimming in the sea though - that may have had something to do with the rather cool temperature! The sea was very calm, the sky a rather nice shade of blue but it was far from warm out on the pier. Fingers crossed, it will be a lot warmer when we visit again next spring with the Derby RSPB Group.

Bournemouth beach.

Thursday saw the four of us out and about in the countryside again, this time for a 5½ mile walk with the Andover U3A walking group. We started off at the Deane Gate Inn and completed a circular walk taking in the lanes and footpaths around the villages of Deane and Oakley. The walk took us just under 2½ hours and after changing out of muddy walking boots (some of the tracks were a little waterlogged!) we then enjoyed our second pub lunch in 24hrs! Being off work can be tough at times!

Autumn trees near Oakley.

Oakley church.

Deane Gate Inn.

On Friday I spent the morning reading whilst Lynda, her aunt and uncle went shopping. By the time they returned I had finished my book, which I had only just started reading. This came as a bit of a surprise to Lynda as I’m not the fastest of readers! I can often pick up a book, read for just a few minutes and then put it down again. Seeing me without a book to read prompted Lynda’s uncle to look out a few novels he had finished with - I now have more than a dozen Patricia Cornwell books to read. Cornwell is one of my favourite authors at the moment but I think it’s going to take me a while to get through this little lot!

Most of Saturday was spent visiting another of Lynda’s aunts and uncles, this time in the picturesque village of Wildhern. The morning was spent catching up on what had been happening in the world, over a cup of coffee, before having ploughman's lunch. We were treated to a delicious home grown salad, fresh bread, cheeses, jam and a glass of cider. The food was all organically grown and it tasted all the better for it. I did have to earn my lunch here though... Lynda’s uncle had a pumpkin in the garden that needed bringing inside before the frosts arrived and asked if I could carry it in for him. “Not a problem, I’ll do that”. Once the pumpkin was inside, and eventually balanced on the scales, we found that it weighed in at just over 77 lbs! I needed my lunch after that!

Saturday evening saw us at the theatre - not something you hear me say too often! Don’t worry, I haven’t developed a liking for opera or anything like that, we went to see Gyles Brandreth. The show is best described as “An Evening With Gyles Brandreth”; the author, broadcaster, actor and former MP delivered a non-stop talk that covered such a wide range of subjects it would be hard to list them all here. One thing I will say is that it was a very funny evening. At times, some may have found him to be a little close to the knuckle with his comments and views but he was certainly entertaining.

After an extra hour in bed on Sunday, due to the clocks going back an hour, it was time to start and think about heading for home. After such a relaxing week it was a bit of a wrench to pack the car and face the motorways again. The journey home was made just a little easier by the thought that we only have one week back at work before Lynda and I have another break, this time at Center Parcs! Roll on next week!

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