As the forecast was rain during much of our week away we planned for days out that had both indoors and outdoor areas. Alice has shown a good interest in space as a topic over the last year so the science centre and planetarium seemed a choice.
On arrival, Alice was very excited about the bins. I think she possibly enjoyed them enough to justify the price of admission. When she was asked what here favourite parts were at the end of the day the bins were mentioned.
The main exhibit area upstairs had lots of displays around the science of sound. Lots the kids can get their hands on and lots of visual displays of how sounds travel.
The planetarium show was great fun. We were shown several key constellations and then taken on a journey through the planets.
There were several displays downstairs showing visual illusions. Tricks of the mind. The little/big room was like an Alice in Wonderland illustration with the room appearing normal but shrinking in the corners.
In the middle is a space for experiments. They had different shows about every half an hour or so. Here they built up pressure in the tubes to fire socks up to the roof. Alice watched and cheered along.
Alice picked her souvenir, a space ted which she showed around the space are.
A Lego model of how we move around the sun.
The outside area had been set up for a butterfly trail but it was a bit wet so there weren’t many to be found.
A gatepkeeper sheltering on yarrow.
A caterpillar hiding on scabiosa.
It was starting to get busy when we left just after lunch but we’d had plenty of time to go around the centre. It kept Alice’s attention well and she came away happy. Well worth a trip to.
We have returned from house sitting in Doset. We’ve had a lovely week down there looking after a house in Christchurch and over the next few blogs I’ll be recounting our adventures. The journey down was painfully slow. You can really tell more people are staying in the UK this year. But it was well worth the journey.
After our day of travel we headed off to Mudeford Quay. We have visited before when Alice was a tiny toddler and could only manage a short burst of walking so it was nice to return. Mudeford Quay is a stopping point to get on the ferry to Hengistbury Head. Hengistbury Head has every nature title going for it. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, an Environmentally Sensitive Area and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. There are many critically endangered insects found here. We have usually been in the rain so seen none of the things that make it significant. The quay is filled with lots of crab and lobster pots. The sparrows and starlings were clambering all over and stealing the odd scrap from tourists.
The ferry goes back and forth between Mudeford and Hengistbury. It’s probably only ten/twenty metres across the water to the headland of Hengistbury though it’s fast flowing. But it’s a nice little loop across and going on a boat is an adventure in itself for a five year old.
Hengistbury has lots of holiday lets along the beach section. The beach is sandy and covered in shells. There are patches of wild plants along the beach. Some like ragwort I see regularly then a few less common to us like Crambe martima, sea kale
Alice’s legs can handle us going a bit further these days and she was in a fairly cheerful mood, though she puts on daft expressions any time she’s asked to pose for a photo.
She’s also rubbish at looking in the right direction.
It’s the first time we’ve made it along the beach to go up the cliff top. Here is the view back along the beach.
Along the top heathers predominate. Alice’s legs weren’t up for walking any further but it was good to make it further than previous visits.
A patch of honeysuckle.
Ragwort was attracting more than anything else. There was a lot of soldier beetles around.
We saw a few of the cinnabar moth caterpillars. I’ve not seen many this year so good to know they are still around.
And a strange something.
Gatekeepers were probably the commonest butterfly we saw throughout the holiday.
And a white. Ragwort really is a great plant for insects. It supports so much.
We made it back across on the ferry to the carpark just as the rain started. It was nice to visit and see the area in slightly dryer weather than previously and make it a bit further along. There is still more to explore if we return. I’ll be looking at some more of our holiday over the next few days. It’s been nice being away but good to be back at home and my own garden.
Last time we visited Dorset we never visited Christchurch centre despite staying in Christchurch. So this time we decided to rectify this. The town developed around the river and priory established in 1094. The castle was started in the 12th century, then destroyed during the civil war. It became a smuggling hot spot during the 18th and 19th century and seems to have brought in quite a bit of wealth as there are lots of fine buildings from this period.
We spent the morning at soft play as there were weather warnings for the wind so it seemed prudent to stay inside. We arrived early when it wasn’t too busy but by the time we left, it was becoming a bit Lord of the Flies.
We took the bus so we could both have a little holiday drink with lunch. Alice doesn’t go on buses very often as we walk everywhere in Hornsea so she was entertained by the novelty. Google maps have proved very useful this holiday as it shows how many more stops to go.
We had a wander around the Priory. The Priory has many interesting stories around it but I think the miraculous beam was my favourite. The story dates to the 12th century that a beam was hoisted in place and it was found to be short. This would have caused some embarrassment. There had been a lone carpenter who had eaten and worked alone. The following day the carpenters returned and the beam fitted. The mysterious lone carpenter was never seen again. The miracle of the beam was put down to a miracle of Jesus Christ as the son of a carpenter.
Alice pretended to be her granddad.
It was a bit windy back outside.
We had brought some food to feed the ducks and swans.
The war memorial has a fine rose garden around it.
From the river and Priory, it was a short walk around to the ruins of the castle.
Alice wasn’t keen on being locked in the stocks, but she was happy to put Amy in.
We had a good platter in the Thomas Tripp pub.
While Alice was kept entertained in the traditional way of her generation.
It didn’t keep her attention for long though before she wanted cuddles.
Then Alice got a little treat from the chocolatier on the way to the bus.
We had a good day out in Christchurch and made the most of a weather warning day where we didn’t want to travel far.
After our starting point of Guildford, we moved onto house sit in Christchurch for our Summer holiday. Our first day out was to Highcliffe Castle. Highcliffe Castle was built in the 1830s by Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay. The gardens were designed by Capability Brown though only part of this survives. The house changed hands ending up the property of the Catholic Church in the 1950s. It was bought by local businessmen in the 1960s before much was damaged by fire. The castle deteriorated into ruin before it was bought on by compulsory purchase from the local council. The grounds and beach were opened to the public but it was too expensive to restore the house. Heritage Lottery funding allowed restoration to take place in the 90s.
When we arrived wedding photos were taking place but Alice was too eager to run through the passages in the hedges.
Inside the castle was good for kids with lots for Alice to do. Many of the displays were interactive with sound for her to listen to. She enjoyed playing in the kitchen serving everyone food.
She looked quite good as a maid but didn’t keep it on long enough for a decent photo.
She meticulously stacked up the rectangles to fill a stained glass light box. She didn’t want anyone else having the rectangles!
She did some very careful tracing.
Then very careful colouring upstairs.
There was a gallery of street art on. Most wasn’t to my taste but some caught my eye.
More dressing up upstairs.
The inevitable icecream.
She had a good climb outside between rain.
Then a bit of a stroll of the grounds before she had a meltdown as her clothes were wet.
The grounds are mainly made up of woodland.
Highcliffe was a good spot to visit for a family. Quite a number of activities for the kids to do as they go round. Alice enjoyed herself. There is a stroll down to Avon Beach but she isn’t quite ready to walk that far. In my next blog, we visited Christchurch, then still more of Exbury, Peppa Pig World and the Gruffalo to come.
As mentioned in my last Six on Saturday blog we have returned from a holiday down South. We have had a fabulous time and are exhausted now. But in true fashion returning home, we have decided to get on with several jobs around the house and garden. There is painting to be done to finish the extension and the front garden can be planted up as the path has been rebuilt. Before Amy starts on the painting I have a little bit of time to start recalling our holiday.
On the way down we stopped off for a night in Guildford so Amy could catch up with one of her friends. We didn’t really have any preconceived ideas of Guildford. It’s been the butt of a number of comedians jokes. But we found it to have a nice town centre with lots of interesting old buildings. We weren’t aware that Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carrol, lived in Guildford for a period. It would seem wrong to visit the town and not see some of the sights of Alice’s namesake and we managed to catch a few of the sights on our way around. The happy scholar statue celebrates the town as a centre of learning.
Alice found a rock from Perky.posts that she wanted to take home. She accepted leaving it for other people to find so I didn’t get stuck carrying it along with whatever else she found she wanted me to carry.
Across the way, we got a glimpse of St Mary’s Church where Lewis Caroll preached and his funeral was held. With scaffolding and restoration work underway we didn’t go in.
We stopped for food in the Star Inn. The pub has a blue plaque declaring that the Stranglers played here. It was one of the first places they got started in. The pub has apparently been a big part of the music scene in Guildford for many years. Staff were friendly and I got a decent burger and Alice enjoyed her chips.
Alice wanted to show us how her teacher told her to sit.
Before taking a more relaxed poise.
We enjoyed the delights of the whisky shop and sampled a number of whiskies. We bought the most expensive bottle of whisky we’ve ever bought but it did make a nice holiday treat. Amy has started to get a taste for whisky and has started stealing my whisky so she wanted her own glass.
We had a nice wander through the Castle Grounds. It was all very nicely managed and we saw a few of the gardeners hard at work keeping the lawns in their pristine condition.
A picturesque little pond. Alice spotted lots of water snails but was disappointed she couldn’t spot frogs.
The beds were currently planted up with nice varieties of cosmos.
The paths cross each other creating tunnels.
The little holloway planted up with fantastic ferns.
The bandstand made a good spot for dancing.
We made it round to the castle. The castle has the one room downstairs and stairs up to the walls at the top. Probably not worth the entrance fee, but it helps maintain the castle and grounds.
Alice was scared of the height but there was a good view of Guildford from the top.
Lots of Asplenium Trichomanes fern naturalised in the walls.
Alice found the looking glass.
She enjoyed colouring in the gallery. She has leapt on with her pencil control recently and is trying hard to stay in the lines. But as she colours each section the same colour it doesn’t make much difference to the overall effect.
She liked white as free biscuits were available. I think Amy would like the staircase.
I’ll be posting more of our holiday over the next few days as I manage to write it up between getting the house and garden back in order.
On the last day we headed back to Hengistbury Head with another of Amy’s friends from her time in Indonesia visiting. When we arrived at the car park there was torrential rain and waves breaking over the sea wall and wind doing its best to blow us over. We weren’t sure the ferry would be running and as it turned out we just missed it. So we grabbed some lunch Mudeford side.
By the time we’d finished the weather had cheered up and the rain had just about stopped. So Alice got another trip on the ferry.
We visited our host again to thank her for the use of her house and wish her a happy birthday. However Alice was tired and grumbling, so no cake for us.
We headed back along the headland for the return ferry.
Back at the house she had a nice restful final afternoon.
The next morning we loaded up the car and headed out to come home. I wanted to try one last time to spot the deer a bit closer. The New Forest has a great number of deer and varieties. I’d seen a few from the car, but none up very close. Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary has a viewing platform that supposedly the deer visit regularly.
We had no luck spotting the deer, but we did find several more of the New Forest Ponies.
The robins and chaffinches were out in force.
Alice wasn’t bothered that we didn’t find deer, blissfully unaware, but was happy to see the horses one last time.
We had a quick wander through the trees. Alice apparently spotted lions.
We had one last look at the horses before heading on our long journey home.
Alice did very well until the last half an hour where hunger got the better of her. We stopped off at my parents. My parents next door neighbours have generously given Alice a bee push along. She had a good push and forth back and forth between the kitchen and the sitting room. This break gave her enough of a rest to get through the last part of the journey.
We’ve had a super time in Dorset. The weather hasn’t been the best, but we’ve made the best of it and had an amazing time. We’re both very grateful to our host and Alice has had a superb week away.
Our second day out, on our Dorset break, took us the village of Lyndhurst. This historic village is known as the capital of the New Forest. It was established as a royal hunting ground in 1079 by William the Conqueror. Lyndhursts other claim to fame is the grave of Alice Liddel; the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Despite being Alice’s name sake we didn’t visit the grave. We came for a walk and to see the horses. The New Forest ponies are one of the famous attractions of the area. The horses are wild in the sense that they roam freely, though they are technically owned by the New Forest Commoners. Around 3000 roam the forest and have done for the last 2000 years. They are a stunning sight bringing pleasure to many sightseers.
Alice was just as excited to see them. Just had to hold her back from trying to stroke them. While they are generally good natured they are capable of causing injuries.
The walk out from Lyndhurst took is out over gently rolling heathland. Heather and gorse cover the hills. I wish I had a better knowledge of fungi as there was an abundance of weird and wonderful varieties on display.
We could hear lots of birds as we walked, although only spotted a few.
Chaffinch on the gorse.
Alice did very well walking a good mile out before returning back in the howdah on my back. She didn’t really want to go in it, but we could tell she was getting tired.
It completely tired her out.
This gave time to set up for our Easter hunt in the garden. I’d opted for buying metal eggs that we can fill ourselves to give a few little eggs rather than a mega egg at this age.
Alice has quickly realised objects wrapped in foil are usually chocolate.
Another lovely day. I’d happily return to Lyndhurst to see the horses again. On a day with better weather I imagine there are good chances to see the reptiles the forest is famed for and many heathland butterfly species. That said we still had a lovely day and the horses alone would have been enough excitement for Alice.
In the next holiday instalment we went in search of a Gruffalo.
We have returned from a lovely week down in Dorset. One of Amy’s friends from her time working in Indonesia had offered us the use of her house while she was on holiday. This has worked out ideal as we then didn’t need to take bed guards and hundreds of toys for Alice as they were already there. That said, the car was still pretty full. Tiny peugeots are possibly not the best family holiday cars. This was the longest car journey we’ve taken Alice on at six hours. But she coped very well. We timed it well for her having a good nap on the way down and two stop offs. Only one section with a screaming child in the back. Alice enjoyed her service station stop offs. Everything is an adventure at her age.
The first proper day down we got ourselves in order with a trip to Aldi for food. We realised the weather forecast was rain for almost the whole week, so we stopped in sports direct and invested in waterproof trousers. This have been invaluable, keeping us dry, meaning we haven’t needed to worry sitting on wet benches or being splashed every time Alice launched herself into a pudding.
Then a visit to Hengistbury Head where Amy’s friend was staying. Hengistbury Head is headland jutting out of the coast between Bournemouth and Mudeford. It has a variety of habitats including beach, heathland, grassland and shrub making it an area of scientific interest, a special area of conservation interest, a special protection area and an environmentally sensitive area. On a good day I imagine this is an amazingly bio diverse area with wonders to be seen. However the two days we visited were cold, windy and wet, so much of the wildlife was hidden away.
To get to the head you can go round on a land train or take a short ferry from Mudeford Quays. We opted for the ferry. Alice thought it was very exciting going on the ferry. It was her first time on a boat. There was lots of excited pointing at other boats and smiling at the other people on the ferry.
Along the headland are lovely little beach huts, some for renting.
We had a little amble along the headland with our host and her twins.
Alice loved jumping in every puddle on the way and searching for rocks.
While the wildlife was put off by the wind there was still plenty to interest me with shrubs and wildflowers for me to look up in my birthday present, the wildflower key.
We had a lovely time along the headland. I would love to return on a sunnier day. I expect we would have seen a lot of butterfly life more species of bird. Part two to follow, in which we see wild horses.