South Coast Happenings
Living on an island does mean from time to time weekends get a bit … samey. You know the feeling, you’ve eaten in all the restaurants, swum in every bay and walked the walks. Occasionally it’s just nice to do something a little out of the ordinary to allow you on a Monday morning, when your colleague asks “what did you get up to this weekend?”, to allow you not to utter the same sentence you do every week: “oh, the usual”.
The remedy? Book yourself a trip to Southampton and set about some anecdote creating activities, like these:
Yes it’s often making the news because of plans to run a tunnel underneath it, and yes, you know the odd bit about it – but have you actually been? Even Barrack Obama paid a visit when he was in England. And he was a busy man, so, if he deems it important enough to squeeze into his schedule, can you really be turning it down? Spend the day debating how these stones got here (they aren’t native to local area, instead coming from 240 miles away in Wales – all this took place in 3,100 BC, so it’s a total mystery). In the year 2000 a Welsh group had a go at getting them their using only prehistoric tools – one of the stones sank, a piece of equipment was stolen and the project was eventually scrapped. No one even knows what it is really for. So go on, take a couple of guesses, and return to the island with your theories to start a healthy debate at the start of a new week.
Like hedges? Like mazes? Then this is the place for you. The longest (but not largest, important distinction) hedge maze anywhere on earth exists at Longleat where the 1.69 miles of pathway are guaranteed to have you shouting, “where are you?, “I’m over here”, “where?, “HERE”, for hours on end. With more dead ends than a cul-de-sac, you’ll have to hope your inner Sat Nav is fully up to speed when you enter. Happily there are six raised bridges across the site, and one central tower to aim for. Eight foot high hedges mean getting a sneak peak over top is a never going to happen, and there’s only one way out – so take a bathroom break before entering. Oh! And there's also an incredible safari park - more on that another time.
In just an hour and a half by train from Southampton lies this oasis of plastic bricks – with not a rogue one to tread on in sight. This 150-acre theme park has dozens of Lego-themed rides to keep everyone entertained. And with mini-land, you’ll get to see what British landmarks look like if you took a shrink ray to them. Make your visit extra awesome by staying in the fully themed Lego hotel – with dragon guarded entrance, themed rooms (guaranteed to make your actual home bedroom seem permanently boring) a pirate themed swimming pool and a huge Lego play pit, you’ll soon forget what other shapes look like.
Fancy going up a national icon? Well, head down to Portsmouth and the Emirates Spinnaker Tower allows you to do just that. Conceived as a Millennium project way back in 1995, a triumph of political, contractual, construction and funding problems meant it started being built about 23 months into the new century it was meant to celebrate the start of. Brushing past this though, the extremely impressive tower (vital statistics coming up) opened to the public in October 2005. And what a triumph of engineering it is. Standing 115 metres tall at its highest point, this engineering wonder really is something to beyond. But it’s even better to stand in, with its commanding views over Portsmouth harbour, providing many a selfie opportunity, and with its glass floor, a chance to face your fears. As the viewing point is 110m. in the sky, in high winds the tower can move (it’s designed to!) by 150mm. Views on a clear day extend 23 miles. Add in a few dining options, the fact you can abseil down it (if you dare) and the fact you can sit in a deck chair at the 110m. viewing platform and, well, you’re onto a winner.
This beautiful small – and, you guessed it – island is located just a short ferry ride from Poole harbour. Well, actually it’s within Poole harbour with, dramatic views of the Purbeck hills. But that boat ride over gives it a real “I’m off on holiday feel”. This tiny sliver of land has firmly cemented its place its place in history as being the birthplace of the guide and scouting movements. History aside, a stroll around will see you discover a lagoon, ponds, beaches, freshwater lakes and even an abandoned village. A five-mile walk of the islands coastline will allow you to see a pretty much unspoilt land, along with some red squirrels. With self-guided walks and a natural play area made from felled trees, it’s a back-to-basics technology free zone.
So there you have it, five different things to do, all of which will give you first rate water cooler chat come Monday morning.
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