Have you ever had one of those weekends that are blissfully perfect and you go back to work the following week in a trance, almost like the whole thing was a sublime dream? Well, that's exactly what I felt like when I came back from the New Forest, a place so strangely fairytale-like I was quite ready to see unicorns in addition to the horses, ponies, highland cows and donkeys.
Driving through the New Forest on the way to our campsite (and after a rather delightful McDonalds to fuel our journey), I near enough receded into a 10-year-old version of myself - the version who set up bamboo canes as jumps and rode an invisible horse around the garden. As a child, I was obsessed. Shoeboxes became homes for my plastic horses, every bank holiday was spent hauling hay and plaiting tails at the stables and I acquired an unusual knowledge of horse markings that will only now be useful as University Challenge answers.
I'd heard that ponies are free to go where they like in the New Forest, but those stories massively underplay the amount of animals wildly roaming around, little afraid of cars or people. I'll tell you, it does make you massively trepidatious driving around tight country roads - just in case there's a daring pony trying to reach untouched grass! New Forest residents even have cattle grids installed in their driveways to keep them out of their garden - fancy that!
A couple of games of pool later and the observation of an amusing pub brawl (I'm not sure what it was about but I think a farmer caught someone chatting up his wife...) we were headed back to the campsite, where it seemed quite acceptable to wash my race with rain water and spit toothpaste behind a tree!
The campsite we stayed in is called Roundhill Campsite and was an absolute beaut! Not too crowded and we were very snug camped underneath the trees!
Part 2 (think chocolate box villages, donkeys and a whole lot of wisteria) will be up on Tuesday, so come back and join me for that!
Do you like camping? Where have you loved pitching up in the past?
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