The Sunday before the twelve month anniversary of Es arriving in the UK, he had a day off from work. It had been an inordinate amount of time since we made a National Trust or English Heritage trip, so we decided to make a concerted effort to go out and spend some time together. I forgot how much I enjoy his company and how compatible we are on so many levels. We genuinely have fun together and feel relaxed in each other company. He is a natural joker and loves that he can be himself around me without pretending to be all grown up and serious….as if!
He messaged me from the bar on Saturday night and asked me if I had thought about what I wanted to do on our day off together. I did a quick internet search and realised we had visited pretty much every local castle, stately home or ruin in the Dorset and Somerset regions. I pondered for a while on what might be fun, was relatively inexpensive and would be more than a few hours worth of entertainment. We have our sights set on Poole in our five year plan, with that in mind I thought it might be nice to revisit. Then I noticed that Brownsea Island was accessible from Poole, it was somewhere we had intended to go but never got around to, and with really warm and pleasant October weather it would be perfect.
Brownsea is operated by the National Trust and has a colony of red squirrels living amongst its trees. These little blighters aren’t shy either, they can be quite happily observed running around collecting acorns without a care in the world. The red squirrel in the UK has become and endangered species, slowly squeezed out of its habitat by the larger American grey squirrel. Yes, this was a topic of teasing between Es and I, with comments ranging from ‘bloody fat Americans’ to ‘Taking land that’s not ours…..just reminding you what it feels like’ etc., etc.
The island itself also houses a large castle which is now leased to John Lewis for Corporate events and staff holidays and as such is not open to the public. This didn’t bother either of us too much as we were not in the mood for castles today, long walks and fresh air was the aim of the day. To Esras delight however there is also a lovely little church (St Marys) which was built in the 1800’s, he still adores a lovely little church and graveyard for his photography exploits.
A number of paths wind around the island and there are many photo opportunities. The leaves were just beginning to change and the few photos we did take had lovely hints of browns and golds amongst the greenery, another couple of weeks and it will probably be perfect and in full autumn colour. There are quite a few areas along the coast line where the view over to both Poole harbour and in the other direction to the surrounding smaller islands. Esra was most upset when I told him that the Island itself was only 1 1/2 miles long and 3/4 mile wide. After spending most of the afternoon walking he was convinced he had walked at least 36 miles.
Access to the island from Poole is by ferry which takes 20 minutes there. However, due to the way the ferries have to navigate the harbour it takes almost an hour back. Worth bearing in mind if, like us, you had parked in a pay and display on the mainland. Luckily we managed to get back in time and have coffee and cake to sustain my poor husband who had just been “dragged on a 36 mile walk”.
The ferry trip cost £10.75 each, which seems quite steep, however when you think about the cost of running the ferry and the time spent on the ferry, it starts to seem a lot more reasonable. The captain also spent the entire trip back pointing out all the sights and giving the history of the area including the story of Harry Paye, a real life Pirate who raided the Spanish and French ships for gold and wine and took the spoils back to Poole. In retaliation the Spanish and French launched an attack on Poole, they ransacked and burned the town destroying Poole and killing a number of its residents, Harry stayed a free man, although not overly popular in the town. It is rumoured that he paid for free beer for all residents of the town for 12 months and he was instantly forgiven.
What I did find interesting is that Poole is the second largest natural harbour in the world, the first being Sydney in Australia. Sunseeker also have their shipyard in the harbour and there and a number of astonishingly large ‘gin palaces’ can be seen sat in the water outside their factory.
It turned out to be a little more expensive than anticipated, but, we had a fun time, lots of exercise in the sea air and some fabulous photos and memories. At the end of the day, isn’t that what life is all about? creating memories?