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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The New Forest - A Different View

Way back in February this year Shaun and I spent a weekend in London - mainly to visit the London Bike Show.   One of the first exhibitors we visited was the New Forest, which was actually part of the Travel Show section of the exhibition.   We were persuaded to enter a prize draw for an "adventure break" in the New Forest, all we had to do was put an email address on a card and post it in a box - simples.    We must have filled in 15 to 20 similar cards and thought nothing of it, not even when the contact emails started to roll in a couple of weeks later.

Jump forward to June 2nd and in my Inbox was a simple email 

Dear Lesley

I am delighted to inform you that you have won our prize draw of a fantastic New Forest Activity Break!

Further details on claiming your prize will be sent within the week we were just so excited to let you know you have won as soon as possible.

Best wishes


Natasha Davies
Employment & Tourism Communications Assistant
New Forest District Council, Appletree Court, Lyndhurst SO43 7PA

My initial reaction was one of disbelief - we've won the occasional prize but a whole break?  Nope that had never happened.   Then when it had actually sunk in it was a mad flurry of activity trying to work out how we were going to fit in a few days away.   Luckily we already had holiday booked for July so I asked if we could possibly tack it on to the end.  At that point we didn't know what the actual prize was.   Natasha promised to try and organise the break beginning on Thursday 17th.   The hotel, Careys Manor Hotel & Senspa was booked for 2 nights bed & breakfast for 4 people. 4?  Who to take?  At such short notice it was difficult to arrange so we decided to go it alone.   Whilst we were away we heard from Natasha that our itinerary was to be as follows :-

B&B at Careys Manor Hotel & Senspa arriving 16th July for 2 nights
Presentation by the Destination Partnership 
Champagne dinner with a sail on the Solent on the 16th July
On Friday 17th a 2 town guided tour, lunch and cycling and kayaking

Wow - lots to fit in over 2 days!  

We arrived in Brockenhurst early so headed to the Rose & Crown for lunch - one of the best fish finger sandwiches I've ever had!

When we got to Careys Manor we were given a guided tour of the Hotel and taken to our room which had a lovely garden view.

Once we had dropped our bags off we headed back to reception to meet representatives from Escape Yachting  and More Than a Tour.  

A few photographs were taken and a chat about what we would be doing over the next day or so and then we were driven down to Lymington to join our yacht for the afternoon.  We were introduced to our skipper - David who took us and the rest of the group down to the Omerta - our yacht.   Quick briefing and donning of life jackets and we were soon out on the Solent.  It wasn't an overly windy day so the water was lovely and calm, perfect weather - which was great as I was really apprehensive about the whole thing not being a lover of anything boat related!   Champagne was served as we headed towards the Needles.  
Coloured Sands at Alum Bay

The Needles
I'm sure the rocks are smaller than I remember!

Once we'd passed the Needles David and Raphael began to prepare the Omerta for our dinner stop in Alum Bay.   

Food and wine was served - Loch Fyne kiln roasted salmon with lemon and parmesan Linguine followed by warm Treacle Tart with clotted cream washed down with a bottle of Rose.   
The group settle down for dinner (photo taken by Luke Crofts)

(photo taken by Luke Crofts)
The sunset was impressive.  

Lymington Marina (photo taken by Luke Crofts)

An amazing evening, one which I never thought I'd get the chance to experience but I'm glad we did it ............ and the weather was pretty much perfect (apart from the thunderstorm which chased us back to Lymington!)  The trip was also made special by having a great group who interacted, especially Louise and Luke who took some fantastic photos (credited) and were great company.

Paul & Simon from More Than A Tour were waiting for us at the marina ready to take us back to the hotel and run briefly through the itinerary for Friday.  They arranged to pick us up at 10am and take us back to Lymington for an historical tour as we'd mentioned that we'd never been to Lymington before.

Up for breakfast and back to Reception to wait for our pick up.   First stop was the St Barbe Museum which was extremely interesting, especially the art exhibition, and then Simon told us about some of the history of the town as we walked down the streets.  We got to see the gold painted post box celebrating Ben Ainslie's 2012 Olympic gold medals - open the link to see the local story!   

Stop off for lunch at The Kings Head

and then drive back to Brockenhurst to collect our bikes from Cyclexperience  and cycle across the Forest to Bucklers Hard for our kayaking experience.
Sorry no photos from the kayaking but I did manage to get some photos of Bucklers Hard.  

Our instructor and guide Tom   from New Forest Activities got us all kitted out so we looked like proper kayakers (all the gear and no idea!) and gave us some quick instruction on how to manoeuvre and then got us into our kayaks.  He took us upstream first so that coming back was easier (tide going out!) It was a very relaxing 2 hours, chatting about the Forest and the river - a great way to put the world to rights too!   After our paddle up the Beaulieu River a taxi was waiting to take us back to the Hotel.   

On Friday night we walked up to the Snakecatcher and had the most amazing Venison steak cooked on a hot stone - thoroughly recommended.

Saturday morning saw the end of our amazing experience and time to leave for home.  One last chance to enjoy a delicious breakfast in the Cambium at Careys Manor.  We'd have loved to be able to spend some time using the hotel facilities, the Spa looked amazing - hopefully Shaun will treat us one day!

We had such an amazing time and we can't wait to go back.   Seeing the Forest from a different perspective, taking part in activities we'd never normally do, was fantastic.   We've visited the Forest many times, with Danni when she was smaller and walking holidays with the dog and have fallen in love with the area.   We'll definitely be back!

Thanks to everyone involved for your hospitality - we've had a ball!

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