Is that you, Tim?” asks a former work colleague as my wife, baby daughter and I trek through the New Forest on a sunny autumn day.
It’s a surreal situation because we’re in the middle of nowhere and not expecting to see anyone when we bump into Debbie and her husband, sub-editor and photographer respectively. The last time we saw each other was over two years ago, during my time as Business and Motoring Editor at the Bournemouth Echo.
That’s what I love about holidays, the unexpected.
We’re staying at Sandy Balls, the holiday resort at Fordingbridge, and are taking one of their recommended trails. I’m riding one of their bicycles and towing Harriett in a trailer. She loves it. Caroline, in the final months of pregnancy and quite fragile, opts to walk. We make slow progress over the 10-mile round trip from Fordingbridge to Fritham but the weather is good and we stop for a picnic at picturesque Hampton Ridge. Harriett has plenty of opportunity to try out her new wellies in a variety of puddles. We enjoy watching the wildlife; a surprising number of dragon flies, birds, donkeys and New Forest ponies – in fact we count 17 ponies at one point as you can see in the video at www.travelwriter.biz.
After our day out in the wilds of the forest, we arrive back at Sandy Balls for a well-deserved meal in Pizza on the Piazza. After a delicious bruschetta starter Caroline tucks into minted lamb shanks while Harriett enjoys a child’s portion of beef lasagne and I have duck breast and roasted new potatoes. While Harriett is generally well behaved, it proves hard for her to sit still and soon she is out of her highchair entertaining fellow diners. Our friendly waitress distracts her with a pack of colouring pencils, which are soon used colouring in a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It’s not long before boredom sets in again
though, and the pencils land on the floor. But it’s fun to post them back in the box. When the tiramisu arrives, Harriett is only too happy to sit on daddy’s lap. And then she has to try some of the lemon tart and melon sorbet, too. No, not Daddy’s Peroni, Harriett!
Fit for bed, we head back to our cosy and blissfully quiet beech lodge in time for Harriett’s bath after which she insists on pulling Bernard the Bee, her yellow trunki suitcase. Her feet, not quite touching the floor means she can’t actually ride it, yet. Still too young to sleep in a grown-up bed, her travel cot is ideal and there is room for it in the second bedroom. We’re in the comfortable master bedroom complete with flat screen television. Each night we all sleep well on the comfy beds apart from the first night when Harriett falls out of hers. Our lodge copes well with the winter weather, the combination boiler keeping it warm and cosy.
The accommodation includes a well-appointed bathroom and a kitchen equipped with all the appliances you could require including a dishwasher, making for easy self-catering.
Sandy Balls has its own leisure centre with indoor and outdoor swimming pools. We all enjoy a daily swim and Harriett likes the indoor soft play area, too – especially going down the slides but Daddy gets tired. It’s a very family friendly resort, offering plenty of relaxation for parents and fun and games for children all year round.
The onsite cycle centre has a host of bicycles available for hire. We opt for a couple of comfort bikes providing upright riding and I tow the trailer with Harriett inside. Watch the videos at www.travelwriter.biz
By Tim Saunders – www.travelwriter.biz
Tim Saunders is an author, journalist and businessman. He meets celebrities, goes on holiday and road tests cars.