A Grand Day Out – Bucklers Hard

After another toilet block cleaning workout, the sun is still shining and it’s time to finish our shift. The weather has been glorious now for about a week, with us having a swelteringly hot Bank Holiday. Today it is a couple of degrees cooler, not many, but enough to make it feel a bit more comfortable. Back to the caravan, late lunch and a cup of well deserved builder’s tea. I take mine really strong with just a splash of milk and it tastes like nectar. Plans for a ride on the tandem are put back a little while as I want to get the bed changed, it’s blooming good drying weather out there. Our bed takes up the entire back of the caravan, I climb on to start stripping it. An hour later and I’m rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Probably the deepest sleep I’ve had in a while, I start to strip the bed. Whilst I’ve been asleep the temperature has dropped a bit more and the clouds have rolled in. Tandem ride shelved for another day as we now fancy chips on the beach for tea, Bournemouth? The clouds continue to roll in, looking slightly grey up there now. Bournemouth put on the back burner, we head to Mudeford Quay, park up on the seafront car park and eat chips out of the paper with a plastic fork in the car, along with half a dozen or so others all armed with flasks of tea and proper forks.

The following morning it was a bit of a treat to wake up naturally, no alarm for us today. Up, showered, breakfasted and dressed, washing on the line and butties made and wrapped in tin foil, chucked in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag with a couple of packets of crisps and bottles of water. Others might call this a picnic, I call it having a tight husband who doesn’t want to buy me lunch out.

Volvo aimed in the general direction of Buckler’s Hard. The drive there, just 30 minutes, isn’t without it’s problems, donkeys, horses, ponies and even cows litter the roads bringing traffic to a standstill. So different and more exciting than a normal traffic jam. It’s more than ten years since we last visited Buckler’s Hard, we brought the Jellybeans on a trip whilst visiting our southern half of the family. As expected, it’s not changed. A lovely lady greets us at reception and hands us our tickets, 10% off if bought online. But, at only £7.50 each it doesn’t break the bank. A museum dedicated to telling the history of Bucklers Hard takes you back in time telling tales and the history of the ship building that took place here. Lots of reading but easy enough to dip in and out of and pick out the bits that will interest you.

The river boat cruise is due to leave in 5 mins, this is an added extra cost, The Boss decides to push the boat out (literally) and pay. We spend a pleasant half hour on the River Beaulieu watching the world go by whilst listening to the history of the river and it’s banks. The river now is peppered with extremely large houses sporting the most magnificent rhododendrons in full bloom. Back on dry land and we visit the chapel and cottages of former shipbuilders. At the top of the hill, looking back on the houses falling away down towards the water. We struggle to get a photo. People keep getting in the way. A couple with a dog blight the view finder by loitering in the distance spoiling my vista. Eventually they move on, just as ‘Bessie,’ complete with walking stick proceeds on the long slow climb up towards us.

Breathless, as she reaches us, she asks politely if it’s ok for her to share our bench. Beautifully made up, including pink lipstick and impeccably turned out, Bessie, starts to chat. The Boss, normally very antisocial, becomes quite chatty, he’s pulled, I want to tell her to get her coat. As with any gentle person over a certain age, she has a story, a life story and although we are only privy to a small part of it we leave feeling privileged that she chose to share a chapter of it with us.

4 thoughts on “A Grand Day Out – Bucklers Hard

  1. What a lovely tale – I want to meet Bessie!

    The Beaulieu River is so beautiful – there is a lovely walk or cycle that you can do along the banks of the river from the town of Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard.

    Mudeford Harbour has a special place in my heart. It is the reason we moved to Dorset. Along with Poole Harbour, it is one of the best places IN THE WORLD to learn to windsurf! (It is also a picturesque and safe location for other watersports. You can stand up in nearly every part of the harbour!)

    And I still stand by my statement that the 360 panorama from the top of Hengistbury Head is the best view that I have seen anywhere in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bessie’s (we never got her real name) husband worked during The War at RAF Neatishead, Norfolk, pushing model planes around a table map before becoming a radar operator. She told the story of a fire at Neatishead in 1966 when he was a civilian firefighter, two of his colleagues died in the fire. He and Bessie were on holiday so he was not present that day but would have known the routes out of the bunker. People are really worth talking to.


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