Sitting in the lush garden of a lovely friend’s place. The sun is shining. The kids happy in the pool. England in spring feels like a completely different country than during those cold and rainy winter months. Peoples’ moods have peaked remarkably and my yoga students are chuckling and chattering left, right and centre. Flowers sprout everywhere in amounts, shapes, forms and colours I could barely imagine before. Blessed is England in spring!
Happy Dancer‘s to-do list has been revised back to the basics, as we reminded ourselves how easy it is to overspend before even cutting the lines. We are just focusing on upgrading the basic safety gear, like harnesses for everyone, life jackets for the kids, netting and fire-extinguishers. All the rest, we’ll get once we start settling on board this summer. That is, all that we’ll still feel we need.
Back to life in Hampshire. It’s been so lovely here with a great and growing community around us, ever increasing amounts of fantastic yoga students, a successful meditation retreat in planning and heaps other advantages of more settled life. Admittedly the thought of extending our UK stay has crossed my mind. But I guess that’s not why we left Australia last year. And that’s not how we wanted to live adventures and travel the world before the kids’ start school – at least not only like this.
If ever you find yourself in Hampshire in the South of England and like places where peace still exists, here’s to name just a few must-see breath-taking nature spots – superb with or without kids and best when it’s not pouring down rain.
1. Furzey Gardens
English gardens at their best. Social plus, people with a disability are greatly involved in maintaining this fairy place. Cream tea at the cute cafe might just be the perfect round-up to an immensely healing stroll past the countless amounts and stunning variety of flowers. RHS Chelsea 2012 show garden GOLD award winners. A real treat for your soul!
Most magical old oak tree (pictured) turns everyone into a tree hugger. Time flies as your walk past crystal clear rivers towards the rose gardens. For a bit of history, stop at the old manor house. For a rest, have cream tea or lunch at the cafe. A National Trust highlight. Before you know it, you had another unforgettable day out.
3. Bournemouth Beaches
Away from Australia and warmer climates, I’m told it doesn’t get much better in terms of beaches up here in England. So refreshing dipping your feet in the water and connecting with the Atlantic breezes streaming through the Channel. Some cafes offer ice-creams and people watching is at it’s best.
4. Winchester and St Catherine Hill
England’s former capital busts with history at every corner. Sunday markets have been a regular visit since we first got here. Cafe’s invite for scones in the sun. Boutique shops cater for the shopping souls. It’s posh. It’s expensive. But it’s gorgeous and stunning with lots of wow-effects. Heading out of town, don’t forget to allow for a couple of hours hiking up St Catherine Hill past cattle and rivers, enjoy the stunning view on top, and consider finishing it of with traditional fish and chips at one of the ancient character-lending pubs.
A Neolithic henge monument radiating magic energies, inviting for ceremonies, reflections and deep feelings as you enjoy a walk along the trails. Stonehenge fades into the background compared to this much less crowded and much more accessible sacred place.
6. Moor’s Valley
Similar to Itchen Valley, but a much bigger park. Adding to the dream-like wooden play stops, a massive and unique playground, plus a small steam railway make not only kids’ hearts beat faster.
7. Itchen Valley Country Park
Rejuvenating forest inviting for walks along the River Itchen. Whoever prefers flying, buys a ride through the treetops with Go Ape (outdoors adventure company). Wooden creatures to hop on and crawl through popping up at regular intervals keep kids well entertained. A cafe next to a nice playground invite for a cuppa after the walk. I believe there’s also an off-road bike track and regular special woodland and other educational activities.
8. Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway
Lovely park for a stroll. Highlight for the kids: Small steam engines for which a ride can be bought and takes you to a playground through a tunnel and passed a lake. Fishermen are also often seen here.
Tiny town that feels like a picture book. Cows and horses grace freely everywhere. The lush green surroundings take your breath away. Also home to Lord Montagu who is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords and resides at the Palace House which can be partially visited.
10. Buckler’s Hard
Another picture book place, less than an hour’s stroll from Beaulieu. The river blessed with yachts of all shapes and forms. The old brick houses telling their history. The pub, stunning for sun-downers. BBQ’s available by the river side. Breathing in the freshest New Forest Air. A place you won’t forget!