Family Road Trip Part Three: Hampshire

In May half term we embarked on our first ever mini family road trip through Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire, visiting family and friends and staying for a couple of days in each place. You can read all about our time at a beautiful, wisteria-covered farmhouse in Somerset in Part One; our first ever experience of staying in an Airbnb in Dorset in Part Two; and this final post – Part Three – covers our time in Hampshire staying with my best friend and exploring the vast depths of the New Forest.

Part 3: Hampshire

I had been looking forward to this leg of our mini family road trip for months – nine months to be exact.  We last visited my best friend and her husband in August last year and spent a lovely couple of days staying with them: we visited the New Forest Wildlife Park and explored Keyhaven and Milford-on-Sea.   A gorgeous mini-break that was made even better when she told me that she was pregnant!  I honestly couldn’t have been happier for them and I was overjoyed when they found out they would be having a girl.

They came up to Staffordshire to visit us back in January this year and I took them out on a little mini maternity photoshoot in the snow to capture her beautifully blooming belly – it’s something I really wish I’d done when I was pregnant with each of my three girls and so to be able to document this special time in their lives for them felt like a huge honour. I took a solo trip down to see them again in February for the baby shower, knowing that it would be the last time I saw them before their baby was born in March.  I was desperate to get down there as soon as possible after she was born and was devastated when I just couldn’t make it happen because of work and school events getting in the way.

This family road trip stop in Southampton, therefore, was an incredibly special one – the very first time we were to meet their new baby.

We checked out of our Airbnb early and headed across to Southampton, arriving by lunchtime.  I’ll be honest – pretty much the entire afternoon was taken up with getting acquainted with their gorgeous ten week old daughter.  Ella, Mimi and Lola cooed over her and cuddled her (in between giving the dogs lots of fuss too of course), I took endless photos of them all together – capturing as many details as I could – and it was just wonderful.  We spent an hour or so at the local park as well so the girls could stretch their legs and have some fresh air after the longish journey over from Sherborne (where we’d been staying before), whilst we caught up on each other’s news over steaming cups of hot chocolate.

Hot showers for the girls plus pizza for dinner whilst we all snuggled down to watch ‘The Greatest Showman’ was the perfect end to a really lovely day.

My favourite photo of the three of them – my best friends, her husband and their daughter. I love detail shots like this and I’m a sucker for hands and wedding rings.

Teeny tiny fingers

Rowan loves Mimi and Mimi loves Rowan

Eldest and youngest having a spontaneous cuddle in the park whilst watching Rowan play

Post-shower silliness

I love how they play together

We awoke the next morning to steely grey skies but, not wanting the weather to get the better of us, we decided to head out for a long morning walk anyway.  Last time we stayed with them we went to Deer Leap.  This time the choice was Millyford Bridge as it’s a well known location for seeing wild New Forest ponies and it was the perfect time of year for spotting foals with their mothers. The girls were beside themselves with excitement at this possibility, whilst the baby snoozed, unimpressed, in the baby carrier, peacefully snuggled up against her Mum.

It was an absolutely gorgeous walk – over four miles (almost 6.5km) in total – and the girls did brilliantly.  The drizzle eventually faded away into nothingness and the forest rewarded us with a thousand different hues of lush greens, puddles that were perfect for jumping in, and, right at the end just as we were starting to lose hope of ever catching a glimpse of them, some New Forest ponies with their foals!  We stood for a while watching them, utterly transfixed.  It’s so special being able to witness something like that in the wild.

We were all completely worn out that afternoon – I think travelling around so much had really taken it out of us without us realising – so we spent the time quietly reading, playing cards and having more cuddles and photographs with the baby.  I knew that Ella and Lola would adore her instantly, though I wasn’t sure how Mimi would be with her – she’s not particularly cuddly and has said multiple times that she doesn’t ever want to have children when she’s older.  And of course she fell in love with the baby too, happily sat with her on her lap, playing with her tiny fingers and gazing into her startlingly blue eyes.  It was such a lovely thing to see.

The girls crashed out as soon as their heads hit the pillow that evening, leaving us grown ups to enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner of oriental salmon, egg fried rice and veggies before talking late into the night.

Setting out on our long walk

All in the frame – I love how the landscape changes so much on a single walk through the forest

Bird-spotting and admiring the view

Not a fan of getting rained on, but still smiling 🙂

I love the delicate curls of these ferns

Puddle jumping

Mimi, going off the beaten track and forging her own path since 2008

The whole gang together (minus Rowan who was off exploring the undergrowth further on ahead!)

I love this view – all misty and moody

Our first glimpse of a New Forest pony and her foal – it was so magical to see them like this!

Splashing through one of the many streams we came across

We were so lucky to see one of the foals feeding – this was right by the car park as we got to the end of our walk.

Mimi absolutely adores Rowan and she curled up with him on the sofa after our long walk – they were both as worn out as each other I think!

As always, our time with our friends was over far too quickly.  It’s a cliche to say it but there really is never enough time.  We snuck out of the house at 5.45am the following morning to make the long journey home, hoping for a better trip back than we had on the way down.  Thankfully our plan worked and we were home by 8.30am after a smooth and uneventful drive.

6 days; 478 miles on the road; 4 counties; 3 different houses; approximately 1,682 shouts of “Are we there yet?”, “I feel sick” and “I’m bored!”; 3 dogs, 3 cats and 1 baby; plus a ton of catching up, hugs and laughter with family and friends; long countryside walks and muddy wellies.  And it all added up to 3 tired kiddos; 2 tired parents and 5 very full and happy hearts.

Our first ever family road trip was certainly an experience and I learnt a lot.  I may even write a post all about it with some tips that worked for us (as well as things to avoid!).  I’m really glad we did it – being able to spend time with my family and friends meant the world to me and being able to explore such different parts of our beautiful home country was eye-opening.  The UK is such a unique part of the world.

I’m definitely up for another family road-trip somewhere else in the UK in the not-too-distant future, though I don’t think the girls are quite so keen because of the amount of time spent in the car.  It was definitely a good practice run for a ‘proper’ family road-trip in the USA one day though and I’m already beginning to map out some ideas of where we could visit.

I wonder where our travels will take us next…?

More Posts


  • We must have been there at the same time Chloe!! We were staying in the New Forest at May half term too — it rained and rained and rained!! But HOW beautiful?! We were staying in Brockenhurst — so gorgeous — and I love the fact the the horses wander around and stand in people’s gardens, looking through their windows!!!!

    • Reply July 30, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Oh how funny! If I’d known you were there we could have met up. It’s the most beautiful place isn’t it? We’ve not really explored many of the villages as we always stay with my friend but we do love walking through the forest.

  • What lovely photos, your girls have such beautiful smiles and you capture them so well! It sounds like a great visit and even though it’s tiring I love a good road trip. I always think that all those little things that go awry are the things that make it, when your girls are older they’ll be saying, ‘remember that road trip we took when…’ and the journey gives them so many memories. Hope you manage to do another one soon!

    • Reply July 30, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Thanks Hayley, that’s such a lovely thing to say. I hope they do remember it and reminisce over all the experiences we had.

  • Reply July 23, 2018


    We love the New Forest, such a beautiful part of the country. We’re lucky enough to have family there so we’re there a lot. When you step out of mt in laws front door you’re in the forest and often greeted by ponies. That never gets old! x

    • Reply July 30, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      I remember you saying that you have family there. How wonderful to live in such a beautiful place!

  • Reply July 25, 2018


    Rain?! I have forgotten what it looks like! So glad you had a fantastic road trip, looks like the perfect combination of family and friends time. Those teeny, tiny fingers are absolutely adorable! xx

    • Reply July 30, 2018

      Chloe Ridgway

      Oh gosh the baby snuggles were wonderful! It was a really good balance of friends and family, downtime and busy days.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.