25 August 2019 (Sunday) - New Forest Day Three

I slept rather better last night; I was woken by the sound of a dog heaving. Fortunately I was quick enough to hoik Fudge to somewhere where dog sick could be easily cleared up.
I took him outside for some fresh air; Treacle joined us. Fudge had a tiddle; Treacle went to get her stick (she brought a *huge* one back after yesterday’s walk) and she then took umbrage when I wouldn’t let her bring it into the cottage.
Being up earlier than I might have been I spent a few minutes sorting out the answers for the Earthcache we went to find yesterday. The people who’d set the thing had been in touch overnight and had been good enough to give us one or two tips of local knowledge. Which pubs to visit, and which beer to try. That’s why I love the ancient and noble art of looking for film pots under rocks; you get to find all the stuff that the tourists don’t (and not just the film pots).
As I typed out the Earthcache answers Treacle was constantly walking past showing off all the shoes she’d stolen. I find it best to ignore her; she rarely chews them – she just likes to show off. But I did get involved when she started chomping on the pieces of “Buckaroo” from last night – how did she get those?

As we pootled about getting ready for brekkie I could hear a frantic barking outside. Some silly old bat was standing at the gate with her dog deliberately provoking our dogs. I came out to round up our pups and she gave me the most filthy glare. She then made a point of standing at the gate with her dog for a few more minutes. We waited for her to clear off before letting the dogs out again. On the one hand we wanted the to enjoy the garden; on the other hand we didn’t want some silly old bat intentionally winding them up.

Brekkie was fun; we had an interesting discussion on exactly what one does with the butter knife. I found out (by trial and error) how to do it properly.
And with brekkie scoffed we drove out to the Godshill enclosure for a little walk. Beautiful scenery, a wonderful place to be; if a tad hot. As always our route was directed by a series of geocaches, and today’s route was a pleasure (unlike the chore which was yesterday’s).
About half way round we stopped off for a crafty half at a pub. We arrived to find that the Horse and Groom in Fordingbridge was staging a beer festival. I was rather pleased about this, but was rather disappointed to see what their beer selection was, Their “beer festival” featured six ales; all but one of which were so common that they are regularly available in the high street supermarket “Iceland”. The idea of a beer festival is that you get to sample the more obscure beers; “Pedigree” and “Hobgoblin” have no place in a beer festival. The pub’s bar had a better selection of ale.
It was here that I mistakenly let a herd of donkeys into the pub’s beer garden. It didn’t take me *that* long to chivvy them out again.

We came home via Tesco. As well as shopping, we needed (“needed” - not “wanted””) Baileys, Tia Maria and port. Tesco had none of them. They suggested we try the local garage who had port, and who suggested we went back to Tesco for the Tia Maria and Baileys.
As we then drove home we picked up a hitch-hiker. He was hoping to get to the village up the road from where we are staying. It was a hot day, and he was walking a long road. We couldn’t leave him. As luck would have it he asked to be dropped at a shop where we got some Tia Maria, and there was a geocache right outside the shop too. Result!

Once back at base we had a pint or two, and a rather good dinner which we ate outside in the garden. As we scoffed we watched the bats flying overhead, and as the night fell we went from bat-watching to stargazing. We peered at the stars, we chatted… the evening was only marred by Fudge throwing up. Three times. 

I took one or two photos today as well…

24 August 2019 (Saturday) - New Forest Day Two

You never sleep properly on the first night in a new bed. Especially when one dog is taking up most of the available space, and the other is clattering round the house for no other reason than because he can.

As Karl and Tracey prepared a rather good brekkie this morning, I had a little look around our cottage trying to find fault. The place was so good that I felt I had to find something that the owners hadn’t provided. After an hour’s seriously struggling I gave up. They’d provided pretty much everything anyone might possibly want. So instead I just retrieved the stream of other people’s shoes that Treacle was stealing.
Brekkie was rather good; you can’t beat the Full English. And with mustard from the Ringwood brewery (20% abv!) who could ask for more?

We got ourselves organised and set off out. Our first port of call was an Earthcache which was a little lesson about the geology of a rancid swamp somewhere in the back of beyond. We got there, watched the dogs spuddle in some rather foul water, and came away.
From here we walked up the road to the Royal Oak in Fritham. It’s a tiny little place; you order the beer and take it outside to the garden. Mind you they did have ale straight from the barrel – and six barrels. It was here that we met up with Matt and Glen; we knew they would be passing so we’d arranged a little meet-up. It was good to sit and chat in the sunshine.
As we drank so the dogs both had a bowl of ice cream each. Some of the passing normal people looked at this and looked at us. If they were jealous I’d have bought them an ice cream too.
It wasn’t a bad pub, but I was rather surprised at the staff who were openly discussing (taking the piss out of and being rude about) their customers in front of other customers.

After four pints it was time to move on. Matt and Glen had to be in Brighton; we had some geocaches to find. We drove down to Stoney Cross where we had a rather frustrating afternoon. A cache there had been marked as in need of maintenance. The chap who’d hidden it wasn’t able to sort it, so we’d offered to go lend a hand. We got there to find the thing was fine.
We then went on a little stroll. There was a series of ten caches which we thought might make for a good little walk for the dogs. As we walked we saw stags and deer, horses and donkeys, and even wild boar. Geocache-wise we found all the caches – all well maintained with very accurate co-ordinates.
But as for a good little walk…
To my mind a series of geocaches are numbered. You go from 1 to 2 to 3 along well-marked footpaths. Today we went from one cache to the other following the arrow of the GPS through hedgerows and thickets; over hills and through streams. If there was a logical sensible route from one cache to the next it eluded us.
We got back to the car and was amazed to find we’d only covered two and a half miles; it felt live six or seven.
This wasn’t a series of caches. It was ten caches (good ones) which had been given numbers which implied a sequence that wasn’t there.

We came home; after a quick shower we cracked open the box of beer we’d got at the brewery yesterday. We then sat outside in the garden and had a rather good dinner of pizza as the dogs barked at everyone and everything. Eventually we gave up sitting outside; the gardener arrived and the dogs really couldn’t cope with having her about.
We came in; as Fudge snored we played Blokus, then Mouse Trap. Mouse Trap was a classic game; it has been modernised. In the new version of Mouse Trap you pull the flush of a toilet to randomly activate one of three traps (none of which actually work). We gave it twenty minutes then played Buckaroo.

I took quite a few photos today…

23 August 2019 (Friday) - Off to the New Forest

Having farmed out two dogs I had been hoping for a good night. However Treacle expanded to take the bed space of three dogs.
Over brekkie I sent out some birthday wishes, then woke everyone else up. With the last of the packing done we set off on our holiday.

What with glorious weather forecast, the police had been warning of five million more cars than usual being on the roads today, so we thought that an early start to beat the masses might be in order. We left home shortly after six o’clock, and made very good time. So much so that even stopping at Fleet services for a tiddle (that took half an hour) we got to our destination in two and a half hours.
As we drove we were messaging Karl and Tracey to say where we were. However messages as to where they were weren’t forthcoming. I would say where we were, and get a reply of “OK”, or “Excellent”. Were they ahead of us or behind? It turned out that they’d come down last night, but having made incredibly good time we got to where we’d arranged to meet ten minutes ahead of them.
I didn’t gloat much.

We started our little holiday with a walk round Linford Bottom. The woods there were rather beautiful. The dogs spuddled in the rivers and streams, the humans hunted for little Tupperware boxes. A rather good walk. We then relocated to the Elm Tree where we had a sandwich and a pint or two (three) of their rather good Elm Tree ale. Hic!

Suitably replete we went shopping. First of all to the Ringwood brewery for supplies. I took a selfie there and posted it to Facebook. It got over twenty “likes”; including one from the brewery itself.
From there we went into Ringwood. Charlotte and I had been detailed to walk the dogs to some local geocaches whilst everyone else went to Sainsbury’s. We walked the dogs to one geocache, then walked the dogs to the café where we had a pineapple and grapefruit smoothie each, then walked the dogs on to the ice cream stall for ice creams.
I slept all the way back to our holiday cottage in Redlynch.

We got to our cottage; it was rather grand. We unpacked and explored. But time was running away from us. A quick change, and we went over the road to the Kings’ Head. A couple of pints, a rather good dinner, then back to base. We got out the Blockus, and spent a rather good hour wantonly trying to ensure that everyone else lost. Have you ever played Blokus? It’s not enough to win; everyone else must lose.

I took a few photos today… I’m hoping I’ll sleep well…