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  • Day8

    Rainy and windy

    September 25, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Ugh. As predicted, we woke to constant rain and strong blustery wind. The rain did ease off and on a bit, so we mooched around for a couple of hours catching up on Homes under the Hammer, and then put on all our waterproof clothing and set off for Bury St Edmonds.

    We managed to find the multi storey car park, which was a lovely treat to be out of the rain while we changed and faffed with our bikes, though we did end up paying to park as there was no indication that we shouldn't on bikes. I'm not sure they had even considered it, as it doesn't seem like anyone else rides motorbikes in Suffolk! We had not seen a single other bike since getting here on Tuesday until today when one rode past us in Bury on our way home.

    Bury is a beautiful town with a mixture of modern shopping areas and old higgledy piggledy streets, but in the cold blustery wind it wasn't a lot of fun. We did manage a walk around the old abbey gardens and then escaped into the cathedral out of the weather. It has the most amazing ceiling some which is actually in the new part of the cathedral and only 20 years old.

    We had a pub lunch in the Edmundo Lounge, then tea and cake in a lovely tearoom down a small side street. At that point it was really very cold so we headed home for an evening on the sofa under a duvet, reading and watching telly.
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  • Day7

    Framlingham and Minsmere

    September 24, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    It was meant to be showery today so we planned a day out with potential shelter if we needed it. We hadn't let Ed Sheeran know we were in town as we didn't want to bother him, but thought we might just bump into him outside Tesco. We didn't.
    But nevertheless, Framlingham is a really beautiful village, with some exceptionally old houses and buildings, like a lot of the villages around here. We spent the morning looking round the castle, taking in a lap of the castle walls, and trying to read and take in as much information about the castle as we could. If you'd like to know more about the history of Framlingham castle, click here:
    https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/framlingham-castle/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=framlingham_castle_20&&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=Cj0KCQjwqrb7BRDlARIsACwGad4X6g5XUDJ2m9EvoQXEhuU8PECH-oAbHYfNlOADssFZzXmdg7mG8N8aApDTEALw_wcB

    as I didn't manage to retain much!

    We bought ourselves a picnic from the Co-op, not bumping into Ed there either, and rode towards the coast to Minsmere RSPB reserve. We didn't realise we were going to have to pay to go for a walk, but as we did we made sure we used as many trails as we could and went in every bird hide. We spotted swans, herons, ducks, and with the help of a nearby bird watcher, a Marsh harrier.
    We really needed binoculars to fit in with the rest of the crowds, (and to be 30 years older) but as the ones in the shop cost more than our whole holiday, we resisted the temptation. It did make bird identification harder though. Well, that's our excuse!
    We stopped for a cup of tea and cake at the visitor centre before heading back to Cotton. It was getting greyer and it did rain lightly on the way back but nothing to get us very wet.
    We walked to the second nearest pub for dinner in Bacton, about 2 miles across the fields there, and 1 mile along the road in the dark back again. It was a lovely country pub which served delicious food, and our favourite local cider, Aspalls. It was trying to rain while we walked, but luckily not heavily enough to be uncomfortable.
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  • Day6

    The longest walk yet

    September 23, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    On the recommendation of our friends we headed to Southwold and set off south along the coast. We caught the ferry across the river (possibly the most expensive boat trip per metre in the world! £2 each to travel about 10m!) And followed the cost path to Dunwich. Well, mostly, until we choose the wrong path and walked half a mile along a narrow path across the marsh until we came to a dead end and had to turn back to the start again and find the right path!
    It was a lovely varied walk with shingle beach, boardwalks through the marsh, forest and a bit of road walking. We had lunch at the café on the beach having tried the Ship Inn and decided it was too posh for us!

    Despite the unpredictable weather forecast, we had managed to stay warm and dry until about a mile from the end as we were crossing the river in a particularly unprotected and exposed part of the walk. We raced to the pub which wasn't far along the river, but unfortunately it was apparently full, so we kept moving. The shower passed fairly quickly and we were almost dry by the time we reached Southwold and it started raining again.
    We kept going along the coast to the pier, where luckily the café was open and could provide us with tea and cake.
    We had a wander around the village, bought some soup and bread to cook for our dinner, then headed back home for an evening in front of the telly. 27km was enough walking for one day!
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  • Day5

    Hastings to Suffolk

    September 22, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    We had breakfast with Jenny, whispered goodbye to Simon so as not to disturb him working, and set off to Suffolk.
    The traffic was surprisingly not too bad, even on the M25, my first experience of biking on the scary road I think. We remembered Simon's advice and took the left hand side of the Dartford tunnel, and came off the M25 as soon as we could. We had a lovely ride in the hot sunshine to Maldon where we parked at the promenade car park and dutifully promenaded along the river to find somewhere for an early lunch.

    We were quietly sitting watching the world go by when there was an almighty shout and an older lady started hobbling around clearly upset and panicking, asking for help to recover her shopping trolley which had rolled off the path and fallen 8ft down into the thick river mud below. I stood up to go and see if I could jump down to get it, but the mud looked like I might have disappeared up to my waist, so I just stood there unhelpfully with everyone else.

    Luckily someone more sensible found a pole with a hook on the end with which he managed to lift the lady's trolley and shopping bag back to safety, albeit slightly muddier than before.

    The next part of the journey was possibly the hottest I have ever been, even with sleeves rolled up and coat half unzipped we were still melting at anything below 50mph! We followed Google to the exit of Jimmy's farm and wildlife park and rode the wrong way into the car park, despite some strange looks from people trying to leave down the single track lane we were heading up.

    We arrived at 3, and had 2 hours to tour the park before it closed, which luckily only took 1 hour, though it was an enjoyably spent hour so we were happy. There were some interesting animals and birds which all looked well looked after and happy. Jamie was even brave enough to go into the Reptile house and walk past the snakes without closing his eyes!

    The park was less than an hour from our new home, and we arrived about 5:00. Our hosts and their little dog Dolly are lovely and we are staying in a chalet in their garden with space for a small kitchen, sofa, and excitingly a telly!

    We walked up to the local pub for dinner which was fine, the pub was pretty empty with just a few fairly noisy locals for entertainment.
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  • Day4

    Moving on

    September 21, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We were packed up and out by 9:30, and headed out across the forest through a slightly chilly fog. After missing out on seeing the deer yesterday we were delighted when about 12 ran across the road in front of us on Godshill ridge, luckily far enough away not to have caused us a problem.
    We blindly followed Google in what was supposed to be the fastest route to Hastings, though it seemed to have some strange ideas and we took a detour around Portsmouth to avoid the apparently closed M27, which didn't look like it was really closed, but never mind!
    The weather cheered up and by the time we stopped at Middle Farm shop for a cup of tea at Piglet's cafe it was really very hot.

    We made it to Simon and Jenny's about 1:00 in time for lunch, after a lap around the block due to completely missing the entrance to their secret driveway. It was boiling hot and we sat in the garden melting while eating lunch.
    Jamie and I walked through Alexandra park to the sea front while Jenny was busy sorting out her hedge issues with her neighbour, and then she met us by the pier. It's a long way from jenny's house to the pier in that heat!
    We had a drink at the café on the pier then wandered back home, luckily with the benefit of 4 wheels to get us back a lot quicker.

    We then had an appointment to visit my lovely cousin Anna who has a gorgeous new house near the cliff top and I finally got to meet her lovely Emma. It was a real treat to see her, we think for the first time in 4 years, and we could have stayed chatting all evening. But after a cup of tea and a tour of Emma's camper-ambulance and their amazing garden/woodland we headed back to Jenny's for dinner.
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  • Day3

    Walking, paddling and piggies

    September 20, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    After another lovely breakfast, we set off on the bikes across the forest to Bolder wood to see the deer. The forest seems to be fuller than ever with animals, and I don't think I've ever seen so many donkeys! Their foals are so cute and fluffy at the moment. It's always a slow journey across the forest, but today we were going against the traffic of the New Forest 100 Sportive cycle race, so there were even more obstacles to avoid than ever!
    We got to Bolder wood just before 10, and it was still pretty quiet. We walked down the hill to see the deer, but perhaps they were waiting for the crowds to make an appearance as we couldn't spot any.

    We did a lovely big loop on and off the beaten tracks (we never seem to manage to follow the proper paths for a whole walk and inevitably end up crashing through undergrowth at some point), stopping at the Reptile centre to say hello to a couple of adders, and futilely look for the promised toads and lizards in the enclosures. There were a whole family of pigs there with about 10 piglets who were very friendly, and particularly friendly with each other!

    We headed back to the bikes to find the car park absolutely packed, and headed off to Lyndhurst to find some lunch.

    Which we did at the Mad Hatters Tea Room, then had a quick wander around the village, and a small nap (Jamie) on the hill, then decided to find somewhere for a swim as it was so hot.
    I googled 'wild swimming new forest,' and the best I could find was a small patch of water outside Bulmer Lawn Hotel, where small children were happily splashing around but there wasn't nearly enough water to actually swim. Even if it hadn't been completely freezing. So we had a paddle and sat for a bit reading books before heading home.

    Molly, the gorgeous Collie X greyhound needed a bit of exercise so we threw the ball for her in the garden for a bit. She loves launching herself into the river, and I tried to get a mid-air photo, but failed.

    Dinner was at the Ship Inn, the only place serving food on a Sunday night, then we headed back to pack up ready to move on tomorrow.
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  • Day2

    Wildlife

    September 19, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    A massive ants' nest, some kind of wasp's nest in a tree, donkeys and ponies fighting for dominance at the water bath outside the pub. The horses won. We also saw lots of small gold bellied birds with long tails yet to be identified, and possibly a kingfisher, very briefly.Read more

  • Day2

    Day 2, long walk around the forest

    September 19, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Our lovely Air BnB host, Jackie, provided a fab continental breakfast for us this morning, with homemade fruit compote, yogurt, croissants and toast. Feeling pretty full, we set off about 9:30 past the bakery to grab a back-up picnic lunch in case we couldn't find space in a pub, and headed out of Fordingbridge in the wrong direction.

    We enjoyed the slight detour though a lovely housing estate and found our way back to the path we had intended to set out along, across the river Avon and into the New Forest proper.

    We arrived at the first pub in Woodgreen too early, so kept walking, until we found the stream where I used to picnic and play on our family holidays. We took the traditional family photo with everyone lined up in height order, I cooled my feet in the stream, and we had a short rest.

    We carried on along the stream, and found our way to the Fighting Cocks in Godshill, where luckily they had a free table outside and we had a massive lunch of chicken and chips. (Hunter's for me and Peri Peri for Jamie). We weren't quite ready to head straight back home so headed down to Frogham for a cup of tea, then walked out to the main road to have a peak at the water park, then back across the river and through the fisheries back home.

    Total distance about 25km

    We just about managed to make it up to our room to fill our cups with cider, then back to the table by the river where we collapsed to watch the ducks and geese and read our books.

    After a rest and showers we headed out for a lap of the village to find somewhere to book a table for dinner tomorrow (there is only one place feeding people on a Sunday evening) and a drink.

    I think we'll sleep well tonight, though it is very warm still sitting here in the beer garden, so I feel it may be a hot and sticky night!
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  • Day1

    And we're off!

    September 18, 2020 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Not quite what we'd hoped for our second bike trip away, but we're pretty sure the New Forest and Suffolk are going to be just as beautiful and lovely places to ride and explore as anywhere in central France would have been!

    After making sure both children set off for school and a quick supermarket trip to make sure they had enough food to at least survive the weekend, we set off at 9am as planned.

    Traffic getting out of Cornwall wasn't too bad and we decided to add some extra time to our journey by heading to Liskeard, Tavistock and across Dartmoor. It was a beautiful clear warm day, but the wind picked up as we crossed the Moor and it was really blustery and did get a bit chilly. We both used our heated grips for a bit, and Jamie regretted wearing shorts under his bike trousers!

    Once we hit Exeter though the traffic suddenly got a lot worse, and we felt like we queued pretty much from there the rest of the way. Being on bikes did mean we were able to skip past some of it, but as we both had large panniers we were a bit wide to fit down the smaller gaps between traffic, though there were plenty of narrower bikes that were happy to squeeze down the middle of the road.

    We meant to stop in Moretonhampstead for coffee but managed to ride past all the parking spaces before we realised, so decided to push on and stop at the next place we saw. Obviously there wasn't anywhere else to stop and we ended up at a very crowded Exeter Services. It was too busy to stay any longer than necessary, so we had a quick wee and a swig of water and pushed on.

    Roadworks and ridiculous traffic meant we only made it as far as our favourite farm shop with a view (Felicity's) to stop for a cup of tea and to eat our packed lunch. But that was fine as the view is worth stopping for and it was scorching hot by then.

    From there it was stop start traffic all the way to Ringwood where I had to stop for fuel (170 miles) and we arrived in Fordingbridge about 3:30.

    Despite there being slim pickings for accommodation, we have managed to find a little gem. Right in the middle of town but down a small alleyway so away from the road and with a garden that runs right down to the river, it's a beautiful spot.

    We sat by the river for a cup of Bearded Brewery cider that we'd brought with us then went for a wander round town. Despite many childhood holidays near here, I have no recollection of Fordingbridge at all. It's a sweet little town with a beautiful old church in an immaculately kept churchyard, and really lovely old buildings.

    We had already booked a table at the Italian restaurant which was necessary as everywhere was booked up, but we did manage to find a table in the Ship Inn for a drink afterwards. Then it was home for an early night! Those 175 miles really did take it out of us!
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