We had been walking for an hour, with rain dripping from the ends of our noses and the mist so thick there was nothing to see. We had stopped talking and joking about the weather some time ago and our sole aim became getting back to the car and out of the rain. We were in the New Forest, an ancient hunting ground for England’s monarchy, where deer and wild ponies roam freely, and the hoards flock to during nice weather for picnics and walking.
Our initial impression of the New Forest was grim and as we climbed back into our car, covered in mud and wet to the core we wondered whether this was a sign of what the rest of the weekend would bring. Using accommodation given to us by Rae & Matt, Al's sister and brother in-law we decided that Dorset and the New Forest would be a good region to explore and it would give us a chance to try out our new car, nicknamed 'Sven'.
Al had been given a brief that he could "buy a car for £1000 or less" and he was so thrilled to have some sort of mechanical challenge
after more than 2 years that he was even willing to accept a 10 year old Saab. Aside from a battery issue when we decided to drive to the Cotswolds, Sven has served us well and has opened up the UK country side for us. Public transport in the UK can be prohibitively expensive, and on more than one occasion we have found it was cheaper to rent a car for a weekend than to buy a return train ticket, so in many ways buying a car made sense.
After getting back to the car and blasting the heating we decided to head to our hotel between the New Forest and Poole to dry off and work out our plans for the rest of the weekend.
Unfortunately the weather settled in, and we spent a day driving through thick fog, looking for fossils in Lyme Regis in the rain and standing at lookouts knowing that there was supposed to be something there to look at. We made our way back along the coast from Lyme Regis, past Chesil Beach and to Portland Bill before ending the day, still shrowded in fog in Lulworth Cove, somewhere Lara had been
a few times in her childhood to stay with close family friends.
Thankfully on Sunday the weather changed and we decided to return to Lulworth Cove and take the walk to the rock formation, Durdle Door, in the sunshine. The weather had transformed the coastline and the walk along the coast with grass swaying in the breeze and birds chattering away was a world away from the wet day we had had the day before.
From Lulworth Cove we headed to Corfe Castle, a fortification with parts dating back to the 11th century. It was famously defended by Lady Mary Bankes in the English Civil War in the 1640s and the castle was destroyed by explosives after its eventual capture, and its semi-destroyed state makes it a fascinating and imposing structure on the hill above the town of the same name.
It was then time to return to London but we did manage to see some New Forest wild ponies on the drive which we had missed in the rain a few days earlier.
As long as Sven is capable there will be more road trips on the agenda in the near future, as we aim
to explore the UK and mainland Europe during the warmer weather. Devon and Cornwall are next on the list...
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