The bank holiday weekend away was fun and not earth-shatteringly adventurous,
but I guess that suited me just fine. Friday afternoon Angela picked me up to
drive down to Ringwood, just outside the New Forest near Southampton; Josie was
supposed to have joined us too, but pulled out at short notice for one reason
or another. We met with the other guys from the church - about 25 of them, all
told - down at the campsite where we'd booked four of the static caravans, and
hit Christchurch for fish and chips.
Saturday we all went into Lyndhurst in the heart of the New Forest and enjoyed
a combination of getting back to nature with a barbecue in the wilds - taking
the appropriate precautions against fire, I hasten to add - and then mooching
around the village for a little while. In the evening we headed for Poole,
taking in a typically exhausting game of Quasar - but untypically for me, I
scored best hit ratio and second-best on points for my team - and then watched
U.S. Marshals at the cinema there, enjoyable if you like that kind of thing.
Sunday's destination was Bournemouth, which didn't really excite me too much to
be honest, and by the end of the day I have to say I was getting a bit stressed
and rather wished I was elsewhere and with other people - though I think I was
exhausted as much as anything, and a breath of fresh air did the power of good.
The evening was much better though, having booked plenty of tables at a nice
Indian restaurant in Christchurch, and I managed to pick a dish - chicken bhuna
- which was, unusually, about the right strength for me.
Today, after booking out of the site mid-morning, we hit the coast again at
Lulworth, enjoying the slightly strenuous walk to Durdle Door and the secluded
shingle beach there. A couple of hours blissfully passed by in the glorious
sunshine, and a few red bodily extremities later, we toddled back, found a nice
cheap cafe in Lulworth - yes, there are some - and then hit the road back home,
this time via the A31/M27/M3/M25/M1 route, rather than the more cross-country
route we'd taken on the way down.
The campsite was probably fairly good as such sprawling affairs go, with
hundreds of closely-spaced units, and a central area with a swimming pool,
crazy golf, sauna and so on, plus some tacky pubs and things nearer the
entrance. It would have been nice to take a dip, but the pool almost always
seemed full of screaming kids, so the only facility most of us used in the end
was the crazy golf, and that was quite fun. The caravans were cramped, and
clearly designed for families rather than adult groups - in fact the site rules
preclude groups, but we managed to persuade them we wouldn't cause any
As for the company - well I had been looking on this weekend as a better
opportunity than before to get to know the Generation X crowd from the church,
and I guess to some extent it did work, and I left getting on at least
reasonably well with all of them, I think. There remains some pretty
irreconcilable differences between some of us, but to some extent I guess it
all depends what I expect from such a thing, and if it's just friendship, then
there's no problem.
So overall, did I enjoy the weekend? I would say a qualified "yes". I
certainly didn't enjoy the continual traipsing round the shops that is perhaps
part and parcel of the activities of a group comprising mainly women, and I
would have preferred a little more adventurous exploitation of what the New
Forest had to offer. But overall, yes, I did enjoy it, and it was certainly
better than the other option of having spent a long weekend in Milton Keynes,
so I'm really not complaining.