Exploring the UK: Hampshire

We’ve just come back from a short holiday. If I wanted to really annoy you, I’d now say something like “I need a holiday to get over my holiday.”

But I will say we have had a fantastic few days.

We hired a car and spent 4 nights in the New Forest, Hampshire. So yes, we really went crazy, going so far from London. To get to the New Forest, you need directions to the New Forest. Luckily, I’ve found that English people love to give directions. In fact I was given so many different directions I decided to ignore them, and to put my faith in a sat-nav instead. Many stories of bad luck start with that little sentence.

If you’re not familiar with it, there is a road called the M25 which does a circle around Greater London. We were on this and just needed to know where to jump off. But our sat-nav was evil, and would make us exit the M25, then tell us to do an immediate u-turn and get back on again. So navigating was up to me. I once tried to navigate in Italy using a map of France. I have been lost in a really big bathroom. I have lost my car in a car park for three hours. So this was bad. We had nearly circumnavigated London before I decided to just pick an exit, so I did. It was wrong. But what’s a family holiday without the obligatory drama at the start? And anyway, once we worked out where we were, we just exhaled before seeing a sign welcoming us to Hampshire. This is a seriously small country.

And I saw my first traffic jam outside of a major city ever. Yup. Big highlight, I know.

The New Forest is beautiful. One of the things that make it unique is an old law that says if you live there, your horses, ponies and donkeys can roam around like they own the place. We saw donkeys just wandering down the street, having a chat and shopping.

“Daffodils!  Let’s squash them!”

Now this is all very well. But it’s not ideal if you’re sh*t scared of Shetland ponies. They lure you in with their “I’m half a horse! I used to work in mines – oooh poor me!” thing, you get close and then they try to eat you. Well OK they don’t really eat you, but they are bastards who bite. Trust me. So yes, I have a fear of Shetland ponies, and I have definitely just passed that on to the kids. We were playing in the woods near our hotel, when one came over to us. The kids were delighted. Thank goodness I was there, I saw the fire in its eyes and screamed at the kids to run for their lives. They ignored me, so I picked one up under each arm and ran. Sure we got some funny looks, but are any of us half-eaten?

Another first: I slept in my first four-poster bed. I could never see the point, and now I can. In fact the hotel was really lovely. Although their complementary two-in-one conditioning sea lettuce shampoo made my hair look like a blonde frilly lettuce.

So pleased we took the buggy just so we could push Rock Star Dinosaur around.

We walked through the woods, we raced sticks down a stream. We ate. A lot. We kicked a ball around. We took the kids to a farm where our little girl rode a horse and our son operated a digger. We took them to a car museum, and to Peppa Pig World…. which, I’m embarrassed to say, is how I came to hear of the New Forest in the first place.

It opened on Saturday, we were there on Sunday. Our verdict? We loved it. We lost years off our lives making our 2 year old queue for that long, but still, it was great.

So tonight I’m feeling a bit sad that it’s over. But there’s one thing for that… to start planning our next one.

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