Tag Archives: Alice in Wonderland

Tales from the Forest

I have to admit to having rather a soft spot for the New Forest.  Rugged heaths, ancient woodland, sea and countryside entwined, grazing cows who amble across the road and wild ponies walking amongst hues of gorse and heather.  Pure untamed romance – the countryside embodiment of Byron.  I’m always trying to persuade Jerry to move there.  So when Rachel from New Forest Escapes asked if I’d like to come and see some wonderfully unique properties she lets for short breaks and holidays, I jumped at the chance to explore.  Some invitations are just too good to turn down, dear Reader.

They say that location is everything and New Forest Escapes certainly know how to open the door to explore some of the New Forest’s best kept secrets. Handpicked and unique, their properties encompass so much from luxury coastal chic to vintage quirkiness – far more than your average rental or Air BnB.  Unusual requests?  Big birthday to organise?  Hen party? Want your dogs to join you for the weekend or fancy bringing your pony?  Honestly, it seems that there is nothing Rachel and her team can’t organise for your stay.  In fact, their properties are so marvellous, I wasn’t entirely keen on sharing them with you, dear Reader…..

With plenty to choose from, New Forest Escapes offer everything from bohemian style, a veritable Swallows and Amazons’ paradise, luxury weekend boltholes by the sea, a smugglers’ inn with its own private beach, countryside elegance to rival The Pig Hotel to a Tithe barn with an interior to die to for, complete with its own private jetty and many more lets for weekend retreats or staycations.  Now can you see why I didn’t want to share….?

Staying at the beautiful Ploughman’s Cottage which is a stone’s throw from the excellent East End Arms pub, owned by John Illsley, bass guitarist of Dire Straits, we lost the girls immediately to the stunning garden.  I very nearly lost Jerry to the pub too, if I’m honest.  I think he was hoping that Dire Straits might want to recruit an additional band member.

The dogs were in their element bombing round the garden and Poppy and Primrose were determined to leave home and move into the gypsy caravan.  Inside was all the comfort of home from home but oh so much better.  Books galore too.  All Jerry and I had to do was to find the corkscrew and decide what to do about supper, dear Reader.

Eventually when we managed to tear our gypsy girls away, we snuck down to have fish and chips on the beach at Pitts Deep (pictured below).  Lymington Pier station was a short hop away and a great place to get the train down from London to – Jerry said that the coastal route was brilliant with the last train stop ending feet away from the sea.

Pitts Deep Cottage offers a dose of pure coastal glamour. Sumptuous interiors, uninterrupted sea views and bags of charm, its past as an inn “Famous for Selling Good Brandy” tells tales of 18th century smugglers.  With Pitts Deep as our backdrop and the sea before us,  it was the most wonderful fish and chips we’ve ever had. We sat on our picnic rug on the sand, watching the waves with a cold glass of rose as the children made dens on the beach.

If magical adventures with your children are what you’re looking for, then I can’t think of a more perfect stay than Eat me Drink me Cottage.

Taking a trip down the rabbit hole in this Alice in Wonderland inspired hideaway, you’ll find a treasure trove of vintage toys in this higgledy piggedly cottage – ideal for free range children and grown ups.  Eat me Drink me Cottage is the ultimate place for a bit of rewilding and is a beautiful reflection of its eclectic owners, Peter, a concert pianist and Victoria who runs vintage children’s clothing delight Elfie London who decamp here with their children when the cottage is free.  The dressing up box had Poppy and Primrose in raptures!  Unsurprisingly, Eat me Drink me won our hearts straight away and its magical location on the Pylewell estate (which hosts Curious Arts Festival in the summer), is just close enough to Tanners Lane Beach to organise expeditions to hunt for pirates or invite a few fairies back for tea in the meadow beyond the garden gate.  A top tip – do read Rachel’s marvellous blog before your stay.  We loved her wonderful ideas, handpicked offers and suggestions for adventures with the children during our stay including going on our very own Unicorn Trail .

Reluctantly leaving our weekend bolthole, we returned home feeling as though we’d completely switched off and recharged our batteries.  No need for phones or telly – time to play, relax and just….well…be.  Now if that’s not a reason to book a stay in one of New Forest Escapes‘ properties, I don’t know how else I could tempt you, dear Reader.  I’m already thinking about the next time I can enjoy this view again!  With a nice long gin and tonic of course.





Mad as a March hare

Spring in the air

Spring in the air

March, March, March.  The months seem to be flying by.  Spring is in the air and I felt on top of the world as my winter worn body took in a massive dose of vitamin D last week.  I strolled by the river full of the joys of….well….spring….obviously!  I  planned all the things I was going to do now that winter seemed to be on its way out.  Everyone else seemed to be busy making plans too.  Barbara was finally getting her chickens, Minty was almost at the end of her pregnancy and counting down the weeks, Primrose finally had her place at school confirmed and there had been a flurry of news on weddings, births and new jobs.  The sale of the cottage was moving forward and structural surveys were carried out as we frantically prepared necessary paperwork.  On a blissfully sunny morning, even the future appeared to  to have a ‘spring’ in its step too.

Thoughts of spring bring to mind newborn lambs bouncing in fields, garish daffodils peeking up from the soil, the scent of hyacinths, nature opening its sleepy eyes once more after a long hibernation and the ability to leave the house in just a jacket without need for scarf, hat, gloves or in Poppy’s case, a Michelin man snowsuit which restricts movement but comes in handy when one falls over!   Possibly my favourite(and Jerry’s least) part of spring is the slight (!) craziness it brings out in me – the saying “Mad as a March Hare” doesn’t exist for nothing, dear Reader!

Primrose's Bo Peep outfit would be ideal...not sure I could squeeze into it though

Primrose’s Bo Peep outfit would be ideal…although might be tricky to squeeze into it

Sneaking a brief moment of peace and armed with a delicious glass of red, I settled down to read the latest copy of Country Living.  “Fancy yourself as a farmer?” read an article on the magazine’s Keep Britain Farming campaign.  Maybe this was the job opportunity I had been looking for?  I pictured myself milking cows, shearing sheep and tending to the herd on my own mini farm in a shepherdess’ outfit a la Marie Antoinette!  What could be more Good Life than that?  I have always quite liked the idea of being a farmer and growing my own meat.  Glued to the television watching Channel 4’s First Time Farmers a few weeks ago, I had scoffed “How difficult can it be to look after a few cows?”  Thus speaks the ultimate townie!  The answer arrived with lightning bolt speed and was blatantly obvious as I watched with the wide-eyed realisation that REAL farming was jolly hard work.  I have saluted farmers ever since for their endless daily grind.  Not at all like the River Cottage life I had envisaged.  I certainly wasn’t too sure about putting my hand up a cow’s bottom or giving a newborn lamb mouth to mouth, not to mention collecting dead animals from the pasture at dawn.  Where was the cute and cuddly side of farming?  Delicate little ducklings, reviving lambs by the AGA, bucolic scenes of harvesting and listening to The Wurzles (all together now “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester…).  Hugh FW had made it all look like a dream!  Thank goodness, Jerry arrived home from work before red wine masked any sensible decision making skills and I had had a chance to apply!  Dear Reader, that was my first March hare moment of the week!

Leaving alternative career paths behind me, I decided to steep myself in some further countryside lore instead.  Despite what BBC Weather tells us, spring is not official until the Vernal Equinox.  Marking the halfway point between winter and summer, the equinox occurs on 20th March this year.  Dear Reader, one might wonder what on earth this has to do with hares.  Indeed!  Well, hares and spring have long been entertwined, since pagan times.  The hare was said to be a symbol for regeneration, femininity and love and sightings of them heralded the return of spring.  Ostara (Eostre), the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility was often said to take the form of a hare or would be pictured alongside a white hare.  Wonderfully mythical creatures, there are even tales of brokenhearted girls turning into hares and roaming the countryside haunting their unfaithful lovers.  The phrase ‘Mad as a March hare’ is believed to have arisen as a result of how hares behave during the mating season.  Solitary animals, they come together in the spring, displaying rather aggressive mating rituals as females ‘box’ away the unwanted attentions of a male they have no interest in breeding with.  Who would have thought that those fluffy long-eared cousins of the bunny would be the feisty females of the animal world?  Thankfully for Jerry, I can’t claim to be as feisty as a doe!  I am more of a Mad Hatter’s tea party version of a March hare – a ‘say it like it is’ sort of feisty!

Photo: The Complete Ilustrated Works of Lewis Carroll, Chancellor Press

Photo: The Complete Ilustrated Works of Lewis Carroll, Chancellor Press

“Have some wine”, the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.  Alice looked all around the table but there was nothing on it but tea.  “I don’t see any wine”, she remarked. “There isn’t any”, said the March Hare.  “Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it”, said Alice, angrily.  “It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited”, said the March Hare. 

(Chapter VII, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Pouring myself another glass of wine (well all the best plans, spring or otherwise, have been made with a tipple or two), I focused on my second (and BEST) ‘hare’brained idea of the week, dear Reader.  I think that Jerry, Primrose, Poppy and I might be even more excited about this one than we are about leaving London and moving to the countryside.  Well, how could I complete no.11 on this list (11. Walk MY OWN dog) without one of these.

Well, how could one resist such a sweet face, dear Reader?!

How could one resist such a sweet face, dear Reader?!