New Forest – Burley

Believe it or not, there’s a magical woodland containing unicorns only around 18 miles away from Bournemouth. It’s called the New Forest.

Contrary to what the name suggests, the New Forest is anything but new. It’s actually an ancient woodland which will stun you with its beautiful landscapes and wild animals like horses, deer and pigs. It became a National Park in 2005 and is an absolute “must go”!

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The name was given to the Forest by William the Conqueror, who in the 11th century proclaimed it a royal forest and his new hunting area. He would hunt in the woods for deer and wild boar with his guests and held big feasts afterwards. I wish I could take part in one of those feasts (no offence to vegetarians and hunting opponents, of course!). An interesting fact is that William’s son was shot by an arrow while hunting and it has never been explained if it was an accident or not.

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The New Forest contains many villages. I often visit one called Burley, where you can encounter wild ponies, typical cottages, cosy restaurants…and even some witches…

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In the 1950s, a woman called Sybil Leek used to live in Burley, but the poor thing had to move to America because her interest in astrology, occultism and a long black cloak made the locals think she was a witch! Nevertheless, Sybil’s presence and legacy are still noticeable. Burley’s shops offer souvenirs related to witchcraft including magical amulets, wolves, witches on brooms, unicorns (I told you!) and fairies.

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One of the biggest attractions of the New Forest is its wild horses. There are around 5,000 of them in the Forest and they wander around lazily. Their presence in the New Forest is estimated to date back around 2,000 years! Thanks to these grass eaters, the fields of the New Forest are always clean.

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The New Forest ponies walk graciously and they look very friendly, but they can actually kick and bite. I witnessed this myself when one lady, misled by its apparently gentle nature, approached a pony from behind. Nothing serious happened to her…well, apart from landing on the ground with a thud and an expression of embarrassment across her face! But it was a great reminder that we should respect the ponies’ wildness.

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The other heroes of the New Forest are pigs. Their function is very important because apart from looking cute, they eat nuts some of which are poisonous to the horses.

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So if you want to walk on the lands where William the Conqueror used to hunt, eat a nice dinner in a homely restaurant and have a wander in the forest to see white stallions walking beside you – the choice is simple.

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Autumn walk in Bournemouth Upper Gardens

Autumn is beautiful, but autumn in Bournemouth is simply stunning. The abundance of trees with colourful leaves is unbelievable and makes you feel as if you were in a magical land rather than on the south coast of England. There are hundreds of different shades all around you.

There are many places in Bournemouth where you can admire autumn at its best but if you happen to go shopping in the town centre and want to forget about the shopping madness, have a walk in Bournemouth Upper Gardens.

Not getting too much into historical details, in the late 19th century the Upper Gardens used to be private and belonged to one family called Durrant (one family!). I am dreaming of having my little garden and they had it all… Then, the Gardens were given as a lease to the Bournemouth Council. Today the Upper Gardens are divided into three themes: European, Asian and North American.  more here  img_20181111_1316271

While walking, bear in mind that most trees in the Upper Gardens are more than 100 years old. The biggest attraction is the North American Giant Redwood which is believed to be the biggest in the UK.

When I was younger, I used to collect leaves and dry them in books. It was always a nice surprise to find them after a year or two, with preserved colours of autumn. As I grew older, I forgot about these little pleasures, but this autumn I decided to take some leaves home. Hopefully, I will discover them next year and smile to myself, remembering the Sunday walk in the Bournemouth Upper Gardens.

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The very first post…

The idea of creating this blog is simple.  I am an expat living in Bournemouth, a beautiful seaside resort in the south of England. I would like to show how I see Bournemouth and its surroundings with my ‘foreign’ eyes. Simply my life in Bournemouth