Our youngest Jellybean and her boyfriend have come to spend the day with us. Armed with huge bottles of water, snacks and swimming costumes they fall out of their car and into our compound, just as the sun disappears behind threatening grey clouds. After a beautiful morning a quick check of the BBC weather app and the forecast has changed again. The sun has done it’s shift for the day and grey clouds have taken over with a forecast of rain later on. Quick rethink, the beach idea has now been shelved and we head out into the New Forest traffic, very slowly down towards Christchurch. The world and his wife are out in force on the roads as we crawl slowly along the A35. The Boss with his head full of routes, maps and shortcuts flings a left in a bid to miss the bulk of it, only to find ourselves stuck in more traffic as temporary traffic lights appear guarding unmanned roadworks.
Through the lights and the traffic once again flows freely. We follow the car park signs in Stanpit and find ourselves fronting onto marshland with a scout hut tucked away in the corner of the car park. We scout around, no signage of how to pay, no pay and display meters. Perfect. Just what ‘The Boss’ likes, free parking.
Off we trot heading across the recreation ground peppered with oversized benches and views out towards Mudeford and the Isle of Wight. Through a gate at the end of the recreation ground and the Stanpit Marsh visitor centre welcomes us, and apparently, well behaved dogs on leads.
Due to recent weather the 130 acres lying between the rivers Avon and Stour aren’t as marshy as they should be.
Dry pathways lead you past a vast array of plants and birds. Wild horses graze at the side of the pathways completely oblivious as we wander along chatting and catching up.
Across one of the few remaining WWII Bailey Bridges in the UK, we are aware of how green the the landscape is around the waters edge whilst the rest of the landscape is scorched.
Benches are dotted around for those wanting to sit and take in the views out towards Hengistbury Head and beyond.
The whole area oozes peace and tranquility. Perfect for an afternoon trundle. Whilst we didn’t see any rain, some of the clouds that came across were dark and threatening, holding back just long enough for us to finish the circuit of the marsh.
Christchurch Quay is just a short walk away but those dark clouds imply if we set off in the direction of refreshments we are going to get a soaking. Into the car we pile and head the short distance to a pay and display car park.
Christchurch Quay is a hive of activity and the clouds have dispersed. Hustle and bustle as people wander around eating ice creams. Jellybean number 2 ever so matter of factly brings our attention to a hippo lazing around in the water with seagulls on its back. It made us look twice. A nice addition to the boats bobbing around in the water. Children run and splash around in the jets of water at Quomps Splash Park.
In true Ludford tradition the day out wouldn’t be complete without a meander round a graveyard. From being very little our Jellybeans have had to endure The Boss pottering around gravestones. The interest started many years ago in Normandy when they used to ask if we were having graveyard day or a beach day. It then progressed as we researched our family tree and went in search of long lost relatives. Today we try to read the lichen covered stones in the Priory graveyard.
The Boss is in need of hydrating and the clouds are looking more menacing. We dive into a lovely pub on the high street and order local ales all round, oh and a Diet Coke for Jellybean number 2, she’s not like her parents, she doesn’t drink. Settled under a huge parasol in the beer garden at the back of the pub we start to put the world to rights. It’s not long before huge wet drops start to fall from the sky. It’s that long since we last saw rain, as we shelter under the parasol, people almost seem to be ambling along enjoying this strange phenomenon. Thirst quenched and my little legs rested, we sup up and head back to the car. Burgers and pork kebabs on the Cadac for tea. I love family time and my jellybean moments.