We had a 'heat wave' here in London over the weekend. It got to a whole 25˚C in May! Wowza! Kristian and I had a laugh over an article in the local newspaper which was entitled something along the lines of:
"Safety fears as extreme heat hits London".
Coming from Melbourne, where last summer we had more than a week of 40˚C+ degree heat, we couldn't exactly classify 25˚C as 'extreme' heat, but we sure did enjoy it!
After our glorious pizza picnic on Friday (you can read about it here) we decided to continue to make the most of the sunshine. And so on Saturday morning off we went, two hours by train, to New Forest.
We had been told by several people that New Forest was a very picturesque area. The hardest part was deciding which of the many small towns in this area we would visit. After a bit of research, we settled on 'Brockenhurst' after I discovered that the area was full of wild ponies. Really, how could we resist wild ponies?
The town was small and quaint with the friendliest locals. First stop was lunch, naturally.
After a stroll through the quiet main street, we settled upon the very cute 'Rosie Lea Tea Room and Bakery'. This was a great decision. The owners were ridiculously lovely, greeting us as though we were regulars. They were patient and chatty as we made the always difficult decision of choosing what to order.
I eventually settled on the 'Ploughman's Lunch', a quintessentially British dish. The local cheddar and goat's cheese were amazing, the cheddar crumbly and sharp, the goat's cheese smooth and mild. This was complimented with homemade chutneys, a couple of yummy salads and some chunky bread. Heaven. Kristian opted for the toastie with homemade sausage and cheddar cheese and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our lunch was just the start of our magnificent day in the forest.
There were many wonderful bike trails starting in Brockenhurst and leading to other little villages in the area. After hiring two mountain bikes, we set off down the rocky, dusty track and into the forest. I was beyond delighted to immediately spot the wild ponies. Living in London is wonderful but I do miss being surrounded by animals! Kristian was very patient as I said hello to very tame horses. I was in my element.
The forest itself was breath taking. We felt like we were in Robin Hood's 'Sherwood Forest' or (for you Game of Thrones fans out there) trekking towards 'King's Landing' (this is such a nerdy description, but I'm sticking with it!) We were surrounded by mossy tree trunks, giant oak trees and wild flowers a plenty! (I'm sure I spotted a fairy at one point, but I can't be sure.) It really was magical!
After a very enjoyable one hour ride, we stopped at a rustic, little pub in the middle of the forest, which was also surrounded by wild ponies. So amazing. After enjoying a couple of ciders, we happily cycled off to the nearby town of Lyndhurst. It was a little bit bigger than Brockenhurst, but still very lovely. There were lots of tea rooms and a really magnificent old church. After a bit of exploring, we started to head back as it was getting late (and we had to drop the bikes off at 5.15pm)
I tried to convince Kristian to help me pick a few of the thousands of wild flowers that surrounded us, but Mr Logical was right in saying there was no way to bring them home as we had no water. It was hard to drag myself away without picking a few of those beautiful English Bluebells. I will be better prepared next time.
The train trip back mainly consisted of napping and looking at photos from the day.
Sunday offered even more glorious weather than Saturday. We went to Bishop's Park Farmer's Market in the morning and purchased some thyme to replace our basil. We planted some herbs when we first moved in but the basil didn't make it. In a cold climate like London, you need a much tougher plant. Our rosemary, parsley and mint are growing like a dream. I hope the thyme follows their lead.
We came home and we quickly cooked some Zucchini and Mushroom Pasta then headed down to the park for another picnic. We spent a few hours just taking in all that Vitamin D.
In the late afternoon, we met Alex, Amy and a few of our friends at 'The Lazy Fox' (the pub near our house). We had a table outside and enjoyed soaking up the last of the weekend sunshine.
A really great weekend.