I spent the vast majority of 2016 on the South Island of New Zealand, an area deeply rooted in nature. The whole place seems to have spilled out from a page of National Geographic. It is a land of Continue reading
Sixteen years after my first childhood holiday to the South West coast of England, I once again found myself on Dorset sand, visiting a friend that had recently relocated. On a leisurely potter to the seafront early on the Saturday morning, it became apparent to me that, as a child, I had completely failed to recognise the natural beauty of this area of England. My nine-year-old self would only have been interested in a walk if ice cream and a round of crazy golf had been promised at the finish line. Of course, that is not to say that I would not still be tempted by this end result, but I found myself appreciating my weekend walks in a way that my hyperactive childhood self would not. A place of fond memories, I realised upon revisiting the Bournemouth area that it is an ideal area to please adults and children alike. The seemingly endless coastline is broken up in to small towns and coastal sea ports, all with something different to offer.
My friend and I attempted to cover as much of Dorset’s coastline as was feasible when your feet are the only mode of transport. This area of the coast seems to specialise in good cafes and, with this in mind, I recommend treating yourself to breakfast in the form of something more exciting than a slice of Warburton’s or a bowl of Crunchy Nut. In an area of Bournemouth entitled ‘the Triangle’ lies a decidedly quirky café-come-bar under the name of ‘Flirt’. The breakfast menu here is vast, from the weekend buffet breakfast to a cup of Taiwanese bubble tea to start your day. I opted for the homemade fruit toast and a brew. As delicious as it was, the decorations of the café gave me cause to stop for breath, some of which (like the Action Man light arrangements) can only be described as decidedly odd!
Satisfied that a hole had been filled, and with a day of beautiful weather before us, my friend and I headed to Compton Acres. I am not usually one for visiting gardens, but these particular ones left an impression on me from my childhood visits. Each garden has a different theme; each of which can be appreciated for its meticulous attention to detail. My personal favourite has always been the Japanese garden due to its layout via stepping stones which, despite my age, still evokes the need to jump like a frog from one to the next, as opposed to walking sensibly. Compton Acres is situated at a perfect height to make their café the ideal place to take in the views of the surrounding landscape. On a sunny day, it is easy to while away an hour.
The gardens are situated close to the affable area of the Sandbanks. This neighbourhood has much to offer; whether to ogle at the enormous houses, take in the sea view or maybe even participate in a few water sports. If, unlike myself, you have a longer stay ahead of you, the Sandbanks area is an ideal destination to venture further afield; with regular chain ferries to the coastal town of Swanage, as well as to the National Trust owned Brownsea Island, where you might be lucky enough to spot one of their residents – the red squirrel. However, with a tight schedule to adhere to, my friend and I made the coastal trek back to Bournemouth. We opted to walk right by the seafront, which on that particularly sunny day seemed to be abuzz with activity; numerous beach huts were in use, the parasols were up and there was even a wedding taking place – complete with a steel drum band. However, our activity of choice did not involve a bucket and a spade, but a golf club and a ball. As I mentioned earlier, for me, crazy golf is the perfect way to end a walk, so off we headed to the popular course at Bournemouth’s gardens.
Imagine sitting down in your cosy living room. Imagine a cup of tea steaming in one hand. Imagine a newspaper balanced on your lap and a lifetime’s worth of memories decorating the walls of the home you have loved for nearly twenty years.
Now imagine what happens next. Your living room starts to shake and tremble; the cup of tea falls from your fingers and shatters across the carpet, and in a matter of minutes the home which you love so dearly is reduced to dust and rubble.
At 12.51pm, Tuesday the 22nd of February 2011, the citizens of Christchurch, New Zealand lost a lot more than their homes. 185 people died that day, their lives claimed by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the Canterbury region just 6 months after another had occurred – measuring 7.1 – causing significant damage to the city but no fatalities. This earlier quake had weakened the city’s buildings and infrastructure, leading to the severe causalities that were sustained in 2011. Continue reading