Image Credit: All pictures were taken by Allison Symes.
Do you enjoy days out over the winter months? I do.
Okay, I prefer them when it is not howling a gale and pouring down with rain, but there are usually enough of such winter days where I can get out and about fairly easily.
What I find the hardest to cope with is the lack of light at this time of year. It makes me feel tired so much earlier in the evening which can be a pain! I am looking forward to the longer evenings and it won’t be that long before we start noticing the evenings are gradually extending.
The Watercress Line
My winter trips have included the usual run on the Watercress Line but this time we went from Alresford to Medstead (as there are works going on beyond Medstead).
We took the opportunity on the way back to stop off at Ropley to have a look at the engine shed there and to briefly walk partway along the Harry Potter bridge which was taken from King’s Cross to Ropley. (That was an engineering feat in itself. The ultimate in a Meccano set being deconstructed and reconstructed possibly?).
I was pleased as ever to see the “Permanent Way Department” sign on one of the sheds at Medstead, which is the Watercress Line’s tribute to the late, great Terry Pratchett. His Raising Steam, one of my favourite Discworld novels, looks at the coming of the locomotive to his fantasy city of Ankh-Morpork (and to the wider Disc). Naturally this is based on our history of the invention of the locomotive.
The Permanent Way is the name given to the railway in this novel. Terry Pratchett got to spend some time on the line for research purposes (now isn’t that a wonderful thing to have to do!). I know I have a wonderful time on the steam train just for a trip out and it’s definitely not for research.
Oh and, as ever, I loved looking at the old railway posters and adverts. There were some interesting historical ones but there was an advert I had a hard job not laughing out loud at – I will leave you to guess which one that was from the selection below. It makes the Nosegay tobacco advert look sensible (you would never get away with a calling a product that now). Fans of a certain 1970s sitcom set in a department store will automatically know which advert I mean.
West Bay and Lyme Regis
Then there was a trip to West Bay, Dorset, on New Year’s Eve. It was busy but we enjoyed a good long walk on the beach there. The sea was remarkably calm for the time of year. Word to the wise: there is a wonderful stall down there selling fish and chips and, for me, jacket potatoes stuffed to the brim with the filling of your choice (tuna mayo is my preference) and, after a long walk, well I felt I’d earned my lunch! Lady naturally shared some of that. She felt she’d earned it too!
We also popped down to Lyme Regis to have a walk along the Cobb, which was fun but breezy. I always recall Jane Austen’s Persuasion when I come here as part of the novel is set there. It is my second favourite novel of hers after Pride and Prejudice.
Last time we went the Cobb itself was beautifully lit up with Christmas lights. Not this time. Have no idea why though they were advertising their Lyme Lunge (which is a swim taken there in the sea on New Year’s Day. Can’t say I fancy it. Though they were also holding a Duck Race which to my mind would be more fun. Both events were raising money for charity).
The New Forest
We usually manage a long New Forest walk too in the post-Christmas period and this time we went to Denny Wood. No pictures I’m afraid. The mist came in very quickly making the light fade even faster. It was quite eerie. Very Doctor Who-ish. The trouble with being a fan of that show (and yes I like Jodie Whitaker – Bradley Walsh is a revelation too) is the moment any kind of mist comes down, you think back to favourite episodes where something nasty inevitably comes out of said mist to menace all and sundry. (It never is just mist in a Who story!).
Still, we had no issues, you’ll be glad to know. The only creatures we had for company were the lovely New Forest ponies, though Lady is not too sure about horses. She looks at them curiously and then moves on. We think she thinks they’re huge, funny looking dogs. My first dog, Gracie, took the same view. My second one, Mabel, generally ignored any other creature. She wanted to focus only on the creatures that mattered to her – her humans – us.
Still as I couldn’t take pictures here, it gives me a good excuse to share some more of the train! I apologise for the first few seconds of the video though it WAS excellent footage of the platform at Ropley! Oh so easy to aim the camera at your feet as that proves!
Breaking from Routine
What is lovely is doing something different from our usual routines and getting in some handy exercise after a splendid Christmas lunch, Boxing Day tea etc!
I find it harder to get out during the spring and summer months. Those lighter evenings give more opportunities to get outside jobs done so you do… Holidays, I think, are useful, for making you take a break. That’s certainly the case for me.
I also think given winter can be gloomy there can be an impetus to make the most of what light and good conditions we do get. It can be too easy to take good conditions for granted during the spring and summer.
Naturally a winter trip out includes visits to family which are good fun.
There will be get-togethers later in the year for birthday celebrations but there are several months between each of these. The older I get the more I appreciate get-togethers like this. Time spent connecting with good friends and family is always worth getting out and about for.
Mind, the downside to winter trips out is squelching through the mud with the dog at Hiltingbury Recreation Ground (not that Lady has a problem doing this. She squelches very well indeed! I am blessing my late mum for her habit of stitching together towels which had frayed at the edges to create one bigger towel. They’re just the right size for Lady. I’m also very grateful for a decent washing machine!).
Whatever your winter trips are, I hope you don’t get too much of a soaking and manage to enjoy them. The nice thing with living where we are is that it is easy enough to get away and to a wide range of different places.
I’ve found day trips such as those mentioned above make for very nice mini-breaks and I come back to my writing and other tasks much refreshed. I hope you can enjoy winter refreshment too (and talking of which there’s nothing to beat a hot chocolate either after a cold walk out with the dog. Cheers!).
PS. These trips make a very pleasant end to the old year and beginning of the new. I am also pleased to say on a writing front, I now know my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, will be published by Chapeltown Books later this year so this makes an even better start to 2020 for me. I would so love though for things to get better elsewhere in the world though I sadly suspect that will always be a timely wish.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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