Being totally honest, when I went down to Bournemouth it was without any plans, other than watching the sunset with my book in hand and wandering along the beach for an ice cream. So when I was kindly tipped off that Rick Stein has a restaurant just along the bay in Sandbanks, Poole, I knew that I needed to get a little organised and book myself a last-minute lunch table there.
One of the hardest things that people find about solo travelling, is eating by themselves. Weirdly it hasn’t ever really bothered me – though I’ll confess to ordering room service more often than not – but I’d do that regardless of who I was or wasn’t travelling with – except when it’s in a super busy restaurant, and they seat you at the bar to talk to the bartender.
When I snuck away for my seaside weekend to Bournemouth, I did it for one reason; a hotel balcony view over the ocean. A couple of the hotels that I wanted to stay in along the coast were fully booked, I booked into the Hallmark Hotel Bournemouth Carlton.
It was everything I wanted – a Victorian grand dame in true British seaside style, but not so glam that it had airs and graces. Just a cosy, lovely place that I could equally wander through in my togs and a coverup, as I could in jeans and a silk scarf.
There should be a law passed declaring that all historic houses and gardens must be visited at the end of sunny days, and as near to twilight as possible. There is a magic in dappling sun as it beams lazily through tree boughs that can’t quite be put into words. Especially in the beautiful Chiswick House and Gardens grounds.
Chiswick House is a magnificent neo-Palladian villa set in beautiful historic gardens in west London. The house and grounds were created by two Georgian trendsetters, the architect and designer William Kent and his friend and patron Lord Burlington, the third Earl. Influenced by their travels on the Grand Tour, they rejected the showy, Baroque style, fashionable in England, in favour of a simpler, symmetrical design based on the classical architecture of Italy. They championed the work of the Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio and Chiswick House was one of the earliest English examples of what is called “neo-Palladian” style.
England to me is personified in 3 words; beauty, history and a touch of the surreal. There really isn’t quite a country like in the whole rest of the world. (I could write thousands more words on this Island – and have done – but let’s stick to 3 for the sake of this post not topping out at 18,000 words.) Enter stage right the annual Kington Langley Scarecrow Competition.
From intrepid explorers conquering the globe, to the sheer satisfaction taken in a well-made cup of tea England is a nation that has fascinated me for over a decade now(!), not least for the curious festivals that you find.
The ocean waves have been calling my name. Eventually, I decided on a Bournemouth escape.
I simply wanted to read my book on the train for a couple of hours of English countryside, stay somewhere lovely and get some of that Vitamin Sea.