Proving he can be a romantic when he wants to, Mr Ayla surprised me last month with a weekend in the New Forest, a beautiful area of natural woodland and wildlife and a part of the UK that we had not yet explored. An easy 2.5 hour drive from London, the busy roads gradually turned into quiet country lanes with high trees stretching into the distance and wild ponies munching grass by the side of the road. Every now and then we would pass a quaint little village or country pub – the sort of place where you can imagine everyone knowing each other. It was so peaceful and serene and we knew straight away that we would love it here.
Our first night we stayed at Eastclose Country House Hotel, a beautiful place that is said to have been the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland. Waking up in the pretty white Georgian building and looking outside, I could just imagine the White Rabbit dashing behind the giant tree and down a hole in the grassy garden!
The next night was spent at the rustic and charming Cottage Lodge which you can read more about here.
We didn’t have anything planned for the weekend (highly unusual for me, I know) but as we had our car we just drove around with no direction in mind, stopped off and hopped out of the car whenever we came across a lovely view or something that caught our eye.
We wandered deep into the forest below giant trees and past trickling streams, across rickety bridges and through grassy meadows. Whenever we passed other people – hiking, walking their dog, or riding a horse – they would always say hello and give us a smile. It was full of friendliness that you’d never find in London!
Even though it was the end of November and the trees were bare and brown leaves littered the ground, it was all still so pretty and natural that I’ll just let the photos do the talking…
Apart from outdoor activities there isn’t a huge amount to do in the New Forest and, as it was almost winter and we didn’t fancy getting blown off a bicycle, we decided to have a relaxed weekend and filled our days just wandering around exploring the countryside. It’s a nature lovers paradise!
Despite the time of year and the chilly weather, the sun was still shining and the sky was blue which made for a wonderful day exploring outside.
Whenever we needed to warm ourselves up we found a cosy little tea room for a mug of hot chocolate (with marshmallows of course) or a country pub for a bite to eat.
Wildlife spotting in England might not be quite as wild as an African safari but we still kept a look out for any animals wherever we went (as I always do when we travel because you know I love making friends with the furry locals).
We spotted some rather glamorous looking ponies and majestic deer wandering about along the paths and roads, free to go wherever they pleased and not at all bothered about people milling about nearby or the cars on the roads.
At one point we had difficulty finding a parking space as there were a few ponies lazing around in all the free spots and they often caused traffic jams standing in the middle of the road!
Our weekend was full of cosy cottages, open fireplaces, hot chocolates with marshmallows, country pub lunches, and woodland walks, all wrapped up nicely in woolly hats and fluffy scarves. It was the perfect autumn/winter getaway and it was still so pretty and natural despite the time of year. We’re already planning on making a return trip to this lovely part of the UK next year when the weather is a bit warmer, the trees will be bursting with green leaves and the ground will be full of colourful flowers.
Have you ever visited the New Forest? Did you love it as much as we did? Let me know in the comments below or at: