Recently we found ourselves at Martin Down, a national nature reserve on the Hampshire/Dorset border, as the Eldest was doing a hike for her Duke of Edinburgh’s award. It was a beautiful clear day, but bitterly cold. So while the Eldest took part in the day’s hike we enjoyed a rather shorter walk.
It is one of the largest areas of chalk grassland in the UK. Farmers from the Neolithic age onwards cleared woodland and cultivated the area; common grazing rights have been in place here since medieval times. It is another stunning area of Hampshire that has been, until now, undiscovered by us.
There are miles of good footpaths and an easy circular walk. An ancient earthwork, Bokerley Dyke – a broad bank and ditch, runs for 6km and is believed to date back to the Bronze Age. Today it forms part of the Hampshire/Dorset boundary.
The top of the earthworks give awesome views, particularly on the clear, cold day that we visit. The area was also used as a rifle range during WWII.
It was a delight to find and given the fact that it is renowned as a place for wild flowers, butterflies, bees and birds, it will be a place we will return to in the Spring.
Despite the extraordinary events on the other side of the pond last week (I sometimes think that it could be the latest far fetched plot line in a Netflix Original series, but no, unfortunately, it’s real life), life does goes on. However, the apparent anger and unkindness has made me increasingly aware of the importance of the little things in life; a gloriously crisp cold morning, the giggling of your children playing, still having shared dreams, a sleeping child in your arms, a hug from your oldest teen and the realisation that someone somewhere is reading your blog!! Anyway, here’s bits from our last week.
The Littlest after school admiring the water droplets hanging ‘like jewels’ from a tree, on the way back from dropping the older three at the station and it’s -4, a second breakfast once the sun’s up for the Littlest, photo shoot at Mottisfont in an attempt to get a new banner for this website, the magical appearance of snowdrops, a walk across the fields with the Littlest, GD has a birthday!
The featured photo is of the viaduct above Cattle Lane – we drive under it several times a day without noticing it but this particular morning I thought it looked quite beautiful.
So, our second week in photos. A damp, grey Mill Lane as I walked to the village shop first thing on Sunday, the Littlest with friends at tennis, a bullfinch rescued by GD, a shockingly bad photo of a stunning clear moonlit night while driving to Sparsholt, some of the Tribe’s sports shoes (it must be the weekend), wellies ready for a wet walk to book club, the Eldest in full flight in a netball match.
A happy, relatively calm week – wow! Long may it continue!
After the excesses and a houseful of family over Christmas (just 13 of us), we decided to head for the coast for a brisk cycle and for the Littlest to finally try out her Wiggins bike (incredibly lightweight) so we needed to find somewhere safe and flat.
The seafront from Hengistbury Head towards Bournemouth is perfect for this and with a brilliantly crisp day with clear blue skies, it was great conditions too; the only downside was the number of pedestrians but, hey, it just made it a little more challenging. Parking at the Solent Beach car park (there’s a barrier so you need to remember to take any bikes off the roof before you go through- we nearly forgot as we left the car park …) is a good location as it’s a short walk through the sand dunes to the sandy Solent Beach and easy to access the seafront promenade. It’s still ridiculously cheap at £1.50 for a full day.
Turning left along the pavement out of the car park, we took the path that leads to the seafront. Having cycled along the front with me hanging back with the Littlest while the others rode on, we then retraced our tracks and FoTT took over buddy duties. Back at the car park we decided to cycle across the grassland and past the Hengistbury Head visitor centre turning right along the path that leads to the end of the spit, around the edge of Mudeford Quay. We cycled past the pretty beach huts and stopped at The Beach House where we queued for a short time before getting a table for lunch – this was the first time that we hadn’t been able to book, but we still had a table for the 6 of us within about 10 minutes. And it’s always worth the wait; busy, bustling, great service, very laid back, good wholesome food – whether you just want a hot chocolate, a steak sandwich or a full blown three course meal. And at this time of year, everyone is dressed in full winter garb with hats, coats, scarves and gloves hanging over the back of chairs.
The Littlest was definately in need of sustenance by now!
We headed back as the sun began to set – not the longest cycle we’ve done, but it was lovely to have the Littlest independent on her own bike and part of our cycling pack. So, if you’re looking for an easy and safe family bike ride for new riders, head for the coast.
My attempt to post more has been somewhat futile over the last few months but as one year ends and another starts I will once again ‘try’ – one post a week is my target. So, having already missed the first week of January, here is a pictoral representation of my Life with the Tribe last week
Beautiful roses from a friend (and they still look glorious), a blissful candlelit bath, the Littlest bird spotting before school, catching up with one of GD’s godmothers (I think she’s the real fairy godmother), the Littlest chasing bubbles after a party, the last of the Christmas decorations are taken down (it took flipping days to pack everything away), an icy walk on Stockbridge Common.
Happy New Year; here’s hoping for a kinder and more generous world in 2017.