Back at the end of the summer holidays (which feels like forever ago now as I sit here finally writing about it mid-October!) we all bundled into the car and headed down to Southampton for a couple of days to visit my best friend Rachel and her husband James. We had a brilliant time and packed a lot into the two days we were there. On our first day we visited the New Forest Wildlife Park and saw wild ponies in the forest at Deer Leap. I’ve written all about it and shared all my favourite photos in Part 1.
This post is all about our second day. All the walking we did and fresh air we had on the previous day must have worn the girls out completely because they actually had a little lie-in, which is nothing short of a miracle, especially when we’re staying in an unfamiliar place. We had a lovely lazy morning, playing with the dogs, Amber and Rowan, in the back garden, whilst Rachel packed us a picnic lunch.
We’d decided to head down to the coastal part of the National Park. The girls were clamouring to see the sea and neither the husband nor I had never been down to that stretch of the New Forest before. Our destination was Keyhaven, near Milford-on-Sea. It took us about 45 minutes to get there, winding our way through pretty, bunting-adorned villages full of quaint little shops and well-tended front gardens of cute cottages.
We arrived and parked, then ate our lunch by the harbour, watching boats of all shapes and sizes navigate their way in and out.
Tummies satisfied, we set off to walk across The Spit, a huge pebbly beach stretching out into the sea and reaching towards the Isle of Wight, clearly visible in the near distance. The dogs absolutely loved it, bounding in and out of the water and taking great delight in shaking themselves dry all over us.
Our aim was to make it all the way to Hurst Castle, perched right at the end of The Spit. It was a lot further than it looked but eventually we made it with the help of a few strategically timed snacks of homemade chocolate-orange flapjack along the way. We didn’t go in to look round the castle itself as the girls were pretty pooped by that point, though it looked like it would be an interesting place to explore. Hurst Lighthouse also had it’s home at the end of The Spit, perched proudly at the entrance of the harbour ready to guide the boats safely in and out.
We decided to catch the ferry back to Keyhaven, partly because of tired little legs and partly because we thought it would be a fun new experience for the girls. It was their first time on a ferry and they were a little nervous at first but within a minute or two they were standing up excitedly to look over the sides and watch us chug over the water back to the start of our little adventure. The journey was only about ten minutes in total but it was on of the highlight of their day.
We finished off our excursion with an ice cream as per our little family tradition (we have to have an ice cream every day when we’re on holiday – it’s the Ridgway family law 😉 ), before heading back to the car and making our way back to Rachel and James’ house.
Once we were back at their house, Rachel’s sister, who I haven’t seen since Rachel and James got married seven years ago, popped over with her husband and their two children. It was so lovely to catch up with them and meet their gorgeous son and daughter, and I felt so content just sitting in the garden in the sunshine, watching the girls play with their new friends and then eat tea together outside, whilst we adults talked and laughed. Finally, once all the children were in bed, James cooked an absolutely delicious risotto for dinner (I must ask him for the recipe!), which we ate by candlelight, the dogs happily settled at our feet as we talked about their upcoming travels and impending new arrival. It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to our little mini-break.
Here’s a little video of our time there:
We had such a lovely time and the girls are already asking when we can go back and visit them again because they enjoyed it so much. It’s definitely a part of our beautiful little country that we’re keen to explore more of so I’m sure it won’t be too long before we head back down there for another adventure, hopefully for a bit longer next time.
Please note: No one has asked (or paid!) me to write this post and all opinions, thoughts, ideas, words and photos are my own