THERE IS SOMETHING DELICIOUS ABOUT WRITING THE FIRST WORDS OF A STORY. YOU NEVER QUITE KNOW WHERE THEY’LL TAKE YOU. (Beatrix Potter)
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When I tell people that I have gone out for three lunchtime meals I realise that others are feeling less confident than I am about the ability of staff to protect their customers. In the UK it has been possible to sit inside of a restaurant for a few weeks but few of my friends have ventured out. I want to support the local businesses but am taking it slowly. My first outing was a wonderful lunch at The Jetty restaurant in Mudeford, Dorset. This restaurant is known for excellence and as you can see from the photo below, the views over Mudeford Harbour are outstanding.
The other two venues that I have visited are pubs serving food, one in Minstead Village in the New Forest and the other on the riverside in Stockbridge where I finally had time with members of my family who live in Oxford.
The three venues had different procedures but each felt safe. The staff were attentive and delighted to be serving customers once again.
It is such a pleasure to be enjoying the treat of having someone else cook. I always think other people’s cooking tastes so much better.
Weeks of restrictions on our movements have affected us all. Not far from my home town in Dorset is one of the main cruising ports in the UK, Southampton. It is capable of receiving the largest of passenger ships. They navigate the Solent Channel between the mainland and the Isle of Wight to reach the base at Southampton Docks.
During the Pandemic, these ships have laid empty except for the crew who maintain the essential systems. For several weeks, three of the ships have been anchored off the beach in Bournemouth Bay until their services are required once again.
The rise and fall of the tide in this area causes Poole Harbour to dry out at times, allowing people to walk across the wet sand and collect worms and other sea material. Kite surfing is a popular hobby giving spectators a colourful background.
Our local airport is a gateway for carriers such as Ryanair and TUI taking passengers to reasonably close destinations in Europe and private aircraft. It is unusual to see jumbo planes sitting on the tarmac but with the grounding of so many flights internationally, some of British Airways planes are parked for storage in Bournemouth.
Before things start to get back to normal (or as we are told ‘the new normal’) I decided to drive by to see what the fuss is about.
Well, it is impressive to see these planes crammed in to our little airport and I had the added bonus of watching the NHS delivery plane take off.
The enforced time at home and in nearby open spaces should have dragged but goodness, the 1st day of June has arrived quickly. Maybe the time spent exercising outside has eroded more hours of my days than the spin class at the gym or maintaining communications with friends and family through online tools has resulted in more frequent contact: lengthy conversations as we try to compensate for hugs and the joy of presence.
On these hot weekends, daily exercise along the beach can feel like being in a pinball machine, trying to avoid social contact of less than 2 metres, so we go for a walk as the sun lowers for the night. The water is shallow in Poole Harbour and when the tide is out, it is possible to walk a long distance before sinking in to one of the channels. This adult and child enjoyed their evening stroll, making the most of the quiet waters of Lockdown.
For a change, we left the beach and drove 20 minutes to take our exercise in the beautiful New Forest.
New life abounds in this national park with foals, calves, goslings, and baby donkeys. This new foal tested his hoofs in the water of the pond and then rushed to his mother for a little nourishment.
My granddaughter is not quite 3 and was mesmerised by activity of the newborn animals.
Located inland from the south coast beaches of Bournemouth, The New Forest was land covered in woodland until greedy kings of the past decided to harvest the wood to build their ships. Some wood remains alongside open land, all protected by law.
Famous for the New Forest Ponies that roam freely to graze on the land, it is a draw for families, campers, walkers, cyclists, tourists and locals who come together to enjoy its beauty.
The media report overcrowded beaches and poor social distancing in Bournemouth and Poole but my experience contradicts this observation.
There is the odd group of youngsters who clearly are not part of the same household and they gathered on the beach in their small groups but, in the main, they keep their distance from others.
The promenade is a busy roadway for bikes and pedestrians but it is possible to step down on to the sand and find plenty of space to observe the 2 m rule. I love to ride my bike along the promenade however I do not agree that bikes should be free to dominate the path and to play dodgems with pedestrians. Many times, I have wished the authorities would ban all wheeled vehicles, be they bikes, skateboards, cars, etc and avoid the risk of collision with the children, dogs, elderly etc.
These moss covered rocks gave the appearance of green hills erupting from the sand. One step up could be a dangerous decision as the moss acts like ice on a ski slope and I have witnessed the fall of a few unsuspecting victims.
Last night’s announcement of the plan for coming out of the UK lockdown has left some of the population confused but hopeful that we will soon be able to have time with our families. For us, that has been the hardest thing about the situation. Zoom meetings are fun but they don’t replace the real pleasure of being with our loved ones.
Today the weather has changed and the winds are ablowin. We were attacked by swirls of sand as we took our daily exercise today and the waves crashed along the shore. It was very different to the calm weather of the weekend when not a ripple disturbed the harbour waters.