C and I took a weekend trip down to the New Forest for the weekend just prior to my birthday. For those that don’t know where the New Forest is, it’s about an hour and a half to the south of London on the train and is such a nice little escape from city living. It is ideal if you like mountain biking and are up for some fresh air and some early nights and lots and lots of food (to stave the hunger induced from the cycling!).
The New Forest is famous for being the home to a load of semi-wild ponies and we were lucky enough to pick the time of year when they were all in foal! Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love horse and ponies so you can only imagine the big huge grin I was wearing every time we saw them! They aren’t hugely friendly but equally don’t seem bothered by people milling about and stopping close by them. The foals were pretty curious though, and a couple of them came up for pats and the Mums didn’t seem to mind at all!!
We left early afternoon on Friday and got down there with enough daylight hours for a short-ish ride before checking into our hotel. We managed about 12 miles from Brockenhurst, around the New Forest and then up to Lyndhurst where we stayed. We planned an early night because we had a big day ahead so after a big pub dinner and a couple of drinks we headed home and rested up.
We managed about 30 miles the following day, heading down to Burley and then back up to the north west of the New Forest and back again to Lyndhurst. We stopped at a little cider brewery and got some lovely freshly pressed cider and some jams before heading up to another country pub for some lunch (a BIG lunch that made us feel really full and sick) and then more cycling, including some serious off-the-beaten-track action until around 6pm.
We had a massive Saturday night (insert sarcasm here)! We took a bottle of wine and our dinner up to our room and watched team GB absolutely smash it in the athletics before having another big sleep, in prep for the next day.
Sunday, legs, bums and in fact entire bodies aching, we packed up, checked out and set off again for another huge day – another 20 odd miles! This time we went to the east of Lyndhurst back past some of the places we’d seen on the first afternoon and around some other tracks we’d found. We stopped briefly in Brockenhurst for some tea and scones with jam and clotted cream and yes, to those who are wondering I was very naughty and had some myself!! But in my defence it was impossible to find anything in the tea room that was fit for someone with a gluten intolerance! And I paid for it too.
After our refreshments (so English!!) we headed off for another adventure in search of some really old trees. We found where they were meant to be, but couldn’t really tell what we were looking at so kept on going, stopped in a pub long enough to watch Andy Murray win the gold and then headed off for a horse ride!
Tired, sore and very smelly we got on the train back to London and back to reality. We missed seeing Brad and Kate which is a shame but we were extremely tired anyway so it probably worked out. We had enough in us to watch the 100 metre final, have some dinner and crash!
The next morning I got up early with C, got to have a nice long chat to my lovely friends Katie and Dan from home on Viber, and then headed to spend the day with my beautiful, sweet friend Jo who was visiting from Australia. We spent most of the day talking, wandering around London, more talking, more wandering around, eating and drinking which was a great way to catch up properly.
Then on Tuesday (the ACTUAL) birthday I woke up to breakfast in bed, some amazing presents and my beautiful man. I skyped with Mamma and Pappa Chappy, Viber’d with Mal, Kim Ash and Ro, then headed to meet Jo again to watch the triathlon in Hyde Park. This was a great thing to do, and I got to see loads of the event, but it was slightly disastrous in that we couldn’t find each other amongst the million people around and had no luck getting through on the phones. Miraculously at the end of it we spotted each other and then headed for some London-y Tourist-y stuff including Fortnum and Mason for proper English tea and the BIGGEST ice cream sundae I’ve ever seen, (Alicia, even bigger than in Vienna!!) the London Eye, and drinks in Covent Garden where we met up with C and the delightful Kat! Exhausted yet? It keeps going – after some bubbly we headed to Wahaca for a Mexican birthday feast! It was absolutely awesome!
And as if that wasn’t enough…
We had the pleasure of welcoming my mother in law to come and stay with us for a few days last week, and a bit of a birthday celebration at The Vineyard yesterday in Islington. When I say a ‘bit’ of a birthday celebration I mean starting at 2pm in the sunshine and carrying on through to the end of the night at 2am. An epic effort on C’s part, and mine too to be fair, considering I really haven’t had the health/strength for a party that big in quite some time. It was so great to see everyone, old and new friends, some I’ve seen very recently, some I haven’t seen in an age and some I won’t see for a while – really couldn’t have been a better night!