Winchester Christmas Market

I have always said that Bournemouth is in a perfect location because it’s not far away from famous cities and tourist attractions. Winchester is one of them. It’s the former capital city of England and is located only 40 miles (approx. 64 km) away from Bournemouth. It’s famous for Winchester Cathedral (the longest Gothic Cathedral in Europe), the legendary Round Table of King Arthur, and the city’s beautiful Gothic architecture. During the winter period, it’s also famous for its Christmas Market, which is located around the charming Cathedral. Here is my photo collection from a Sunday visit to the market. I am sorry to disappoint all crafts lovers, but the photos are mainly related to food. I can’t help it, I’m a foodie and food stalls interest me the most!

Christmas decorations with Winchester Cathedral in the background
The Market is very busy at weekends. Be prepared to walk like a penguin, but don’t give up – it’s still worth going there!
A big pot of aromatic mulled wine
Italian chestnuts.
This bag cost me 3 pounds. Even though the chestnuts were a bit hard, I enjoyed them. They’re not easily available outside of the Christmas period so it’s good to eat them now!
Authentic crepes were sold by two French ladies. I chose a classic one with lemon juice and sugar. Delicious in its simplicity.
I love taking photos of food menus on a black chalkboard. It always looks amazing.
The High Street in the centre of Winchester. Not sure how to feel about this cute dog being used by the lady as a Christmas decoration…I found out that some people reported it to RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Hopefully, it’s nothing to be worried about.
Street artist
 I’m glad we stayed in Winchester until it got dark. The Christmas lights added to the Christmassy atmosphere.

I would love to know what your favourite food stall is at Christmas Markets 🙂 

The Alpine Market – Christmas Market in Bournemouth

Even though the Christmas Market had its grand opening 2 weeks ago,  I did not want to share any Christmassy images on my blog. I simply thought it was too early and I felt that during October and November we should pay tribute to a colourful autumn.  The start of December has got me into the Christmas spirit. I visit the Alpine Market almost every day, I have started buying Christmas decorations – I already have a Christmas tree with the whole deer family underneath. I am also almost ready for listening to Last Christmas and All I want for Christmas is you. Almost! 

Christmas deer at Marks and Spencer
Christmas decorations at Marks and Spencer

Like every year, Christmas Market stalls are located around The Square in the town centre between the Lower and Upper Gardens. It so happens that I live close to the Alpine market and pass by the food stalls almost every day. God help me when I smell and see all these goodies and happen to be hungry. It’s difficult to resist the temptation and as Oscar Wilde once said: “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it”. So I eat 😉

The most popular food stall seems to be the one with German sausages called wursts. They are served in a white bun or cut into pieces and soaked in traditional curry sauce. The queue in front of this stall is always the longest!

If you want to try something typically English, you should go for Yorkshire pudding wrap. This is a baked Pudding which is almost like a cakey, crisp pancake filled with red cabbage and root vegetables like parsnip, carrots and potatoes. I cannot imagine anything more comforting on a cold day.

Yorkshire pudding wrap with cranberry sauce 

Another treat worth trying is a traditional French/ Swiss dish called Raclette. These are fried potatoes with some melted cheese and slices of beef. What is particularly satisfying to watch is a big chunk of cheese bubbling under a very hot grill before its put on the potatoes with a special knife. 

Hog Roast is a name given to the tradition of roasting a whole pig. In this food stall, crispy and tender pulled pork is put into a soft bun and served with different kinds of sauces.

Do I need to introduce churros? This Spanish/ Portuguese fried dough is served with cinnamon spices and hot chocolate and is simply a must try.

The Olde-English fudge stall offers different flavours of this candy made with a mixture of butter, milk and sugar. Fudge is very rich so eating one will satisfy your need for sweetness for the rest of the day. Perfect for a Christmas present. 

Chutneys and chilli products seem to be very popular in English food markets. The Alpine Bournemouth Market is no exception in this case and you can find here two stalls selling jars with interesting combinations of flavours. I could not resist buying some of them. They were meant to be Christmas presents, but I don’t think they’ll last.

I hope you have your local Christmas markets and are soon going to visit them, eat delicious artisan food from the local traders and drink some warming mulled wine. If so, what products do you buy at Christmas markets? 

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.


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