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When the winter finally settled in properly, and we had one of those bright crisp days with ice lingering in the shadows, I managed a walk along the Thames Path between Twickenham and Richmond.  It’s one of my favourite walks to do anytime with no special planning, and there’s always a fine hearty lunch waiting somewhere at the end of it!

On this day, the path was almost empty with the occasional dog walker and a robin who followed me a little of the way.  And in the top left picture you can see the old Star and Garter home for ex-service personnel, now being converted to luxury flats  – I would certainly be tempted by that view if I had the odd couple of million to spare!

Autumn brought a trip to Woburn, and it was a truly spectacular time to see the gardens in Woburn Abbey with the firing up of autumn colour in full glory.

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Mudeford Spit

As you can see from my header photo (of Hayling Island), I have an irrational fondness for beach huts.  I’m obviously not alone, since many of them around the UK are now so popular, that to buy one will set you back more than the cost of a castle in Scotland.  I was particularly taken with these huts on Mudeford Spit, which overlooks Christchurch Harbour on the South Coast.  They are also famously expensive – Hut 39 is currently for sale, price £250,000.  Many of them are micro designer crash pads, some even having upstairs areas for beds, as well as gorgeous views whichever way you look, with the harbour on one side and a soft sandy beach the other.  But there is no road access and residents have to use a toilet and shower block.  Still, they really captured my imagination and I really did fancy staying in one for a while!

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While we were visiting Abbey Home Farm, we also dropped in for a look at nearby Bibury, a gorgeous small village in the Cotswolds, which claims to be home to the most photographed view in Britain.  And here it is:

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This is Arlington Row, first built in 1380, but converted into weavers cottages in the 17th century, and now owned by the National Trust.

Modern Bibury attracts tour buses and is unfortunately dominated by a trout farm (picturesque as that trout farm may be in this setting!), which is a visitor ‘attraction’.  However, we did manage a lovely wander round the village, a couple of purchases in the gift shop and a good veggie lunch in garden of the Catherine Wheel pub.  All that gorgeous Cotswold stone, a babbling brook and a couple of black swans, all make Bibury well worth the visit.

the bridge in the centre of Bibury

the bridge in the centre of Bibury

The end of Arlington Row

The end of Arlington Row

We decided last weekend that a sunny day meant a trip to the seaside was in order.  It was also an excuse to visit somewhere new, so we packed some sandwiches and a beach blanket and headed to Hayling Island on the south coast.

photo: hayling.co.uk

Hayling is off the coast of Hampshire and is accessible by road bridge from Langstone, the first bridge having been built in 1824.  Before the bridge, it was possible to wade across to the island at low tide, but the island was often cut off in bad weather.  Fortunately the modern bridge is strong enough for vehicles and their passengers – on the original wooden bridge, bus passengers had to get out and walk across!

The island has a long history, but it became a seaside resort in the 19th century, especially with the arrival of the (now defunct) railway.

photo: hayling.co.uk

My favourite titbit of island history is that it was used as a decoy during World War 2 for the strategically more important Portsea Island close by.  Sadly, this did mean that the island was heavily bombed during the war, but the defences built at the time can still be seen on Sinah Common.

photo: hayling.co.uk

These days the funfair still seems to be going strong, but Hayling is also a hotspot for windsurfers and kitesurfers.  There are rows of gorgeous beach huts, a pebble beach, cafe’s and restaurants.  Plenty of bracing walks too – given the local passion for windsuring, I’m guessing the strong breeze we encountered on our trip are not uncommon!

To round off the day we stopped for dinner at the Royal Oak, just on the mainland side of the bridge in Langstone.  This pub is gorgeous, situated right on the water with fabulous views.  They also did a great selection of veggie food – we had a roast veg tatin and a goat’s cheese salad, and there were several more options.

The view from the Royal Oak

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