Local Heart, Global Soul

October 11, 2014

Cattle Stops (Well Ponies Actually) And Getting Going…

Filed under: ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Salisbury,South Coast,The New Forest — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our time at the Sandy Balls camp-site is at an end, our kids could have stayed the entire time of our trip here but we have places to go, things and people to see.

We make our way slowly out of the New Forest, mainly because livestock have right of way on the roads here and apparently they know it, with one pony in particular not even bothering to shift from the centre of the road until the camper is crawling behind at less than a walking pace behind it undulating buttocks and swishing tail.

The end of the kilometres of open roaming that the animals enjoy is marked by a cattle stop (cattle grid ) which for those who may not be familiar with them is an arrangement of spaced bars set above a ditch in the road.

The fence either side of the road keeps the animals in no gate is needed on the cattle stop because all livestock with hoofed feet have a deep aversion to standing on the bars that have gaps either side of them. Vehicles of course can just drive over and people can pick their way over by standing on the bars. (ok, usually  they can because in my childhood as a country kid I fell though the gaps of a cattle stop twice. The first time I was riding a horse called Cinders who was famous for kicking, biting and bucking, and he threw me off right next to one and my skinny legs went though the gaps.

The second time I was being stupid and tried running over one, missed my footing and fell into the gaps between the bars: on both occasions the only thing stopping my fall were my knee caps which I can assure you is an exceptionally painful way to  go from a decent speed to a dead stop and seriously not recommended).

Once we have left the New Forest we find ourselves heading north towards the beautiful city of Salisbury, which has a Cathedral I’ve love to see more of one day. Sadly I had to make do with a quick view of the steeple as we go past, before heading out to the open countryside again.  Our camp site is close by, but we have somewhere we want to see first.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cattle stop set into the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 10, 2014

Eating Out That Ends Up As Win-Win On Many Levels…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I never thought I could enjoy a holiday in a large camping ground, packed with hundreds of  caravans, tents, static caravans and campers.

Himself and I are definitely “off the beaten track” kind of people, we love nothing better than getting away from the tourist traps, eating where the locals do and inhaling as much of the local culture as possible.

Ok, that last bit sounds a little bit wrong… rest assured we aren’t smoking anything, but rather trying to get the real flavour of somewhere new by blending in with the locals whenever possible.

That’s been easier on some occasions than others, Himself’s height often captivates peoples attention and instantly  marks us out as tourists but his passion for languages quickly puts people at ease because nothing stuns a little Portuguese /French/ German farmer more than a gigantic Dutchman asking for directions to a good local restaurant in very decent Portuguese / French or German. Of course now that we have children, and even worse picky children who fuss over what they will or won’t eat, “going local”  has had to be curtailed to some degree, but I am proud that despite my kids frustratingly difficult culinary habits, we have never ever eaten at certain fast food burger chain restaurants.

Personally  I’m not a huge fan of pizza places either but that’s only because I’m probably one of the small percentage of people who never really got a pizza habit, unlike the rest of my family for whom the words “Italian Restaurant ” are a little piece of magic promising pizza and pasta and upon which they would live happily three hundred and sixty five days of the year.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was therefore in two minds about our decision to eat at the Pizzeria located on site at the Sandy Balls camp site . The rest of the family were relishing the idea but I wasn’t feeling the love for either pasta or pizza and wasn’t particularly looking forward to looking at a menu for the “least worst”  option.

Imagine my delight when we discovered that the pizzeria said it would be no problem for me to have fish and chips!

Now I’m not one hundred percent certain if it was on their own menu or if they collaborated with the snack bar close by, but we managed to get a meal where everyone got what they fancied on the day.

Kiwi Daughter even ditched her original pizza plans for fish and chips too, (by working out that she could get pizza “any time” at home but that fish and chips were a treat that we could only get in the UK or when back in New Zealand). Little Mr even wrangled the dreaded chicken nuggets out of us, I’ve long since banned Himself from buying them at home but we have a rule that on holiday we are allowed a treat, a rule that Little Mr is exploiting as much as he can humanly manage.

Himself  naturally went for the pasta option, Kiwi Daughter and I got a piece of fish each and then shared a portion of chips and the kids had shushies for drinks and ice-cream  for desert. Every one was happy, and Himself could even enjoy a glass of wine because he didn’t have to drive back. Win, Win.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 9, 2014

When There Are Secrets That A Kid Knows And The Parents Don’t…

Last summer family Kiwidutch went camping in England and one of our stops was at the Sandy Balls camp-site in the New Forest.

Himself and I quickly saw that the kids made friends with the kids of other families close by and that after a spell of playing together close to the camper and tents, soon they asked permission to roam further as a little group and to go to the playground without an adult in tow.

Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter are sensible kids and are not risk takers, they have been taught about “stranger danger” and if they ever have a change of plan when playing with friends they will always take the time to come and ask if it’s ok with us first so permission was granted. The weather  was warm, the summer days were long and as usual during the long summer holiday, they stayed out playing for as long as the daylight lasted.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We had cooked a simple pasta dinner, relaxed afterwards and then Himself and I busied ourselves with the washing up and general tidying up in preparation for bedtime. The kids had pleaded to go play so we let them off dishes duty and waved them off with their little new friends.

At one point whilst we were busy I was vaguely aware that their bikes had been dumped on the grass near the front of the camper but didn’t think anything of it. All of a sudden we saw Kiwi Daughter milling around the camper again and I asked her to put her unicycle away because it was getting darker, and I added that she should also let Little Mr know that he needed to put his bike away too.

Her face revealed her surprise: “But isn’t he inside the camper with you?” she asked.  “No” I relied,  “He’s with you“.  Wrong on both counts, Little Mr had somehow become separated from the group he went out with and she had assumed he had already made his way back to the camper long since. She looked worried, I reassured her that Little Mr was a sensible eight year old and that there were still plenty of children out playing as the daylight faded. Himself  immediately started jogging down the road between the tents to search the large playground but was soon back looking a bit more  serious because the gates of the playground had already been locked for the night.

Himself dragged his own bike out of the camper’s locker and set out to search the camp site. I took my camera and started to walk down the rows of tents asking parents if they had seen an eight year old boy: Kiwi Daughter was indignant “We have lost Little Mr and all you want to do is go out with your camera?” she accused, close to tears.

I gave her a reassuring hug and told her that what I was actually doing was showing the other parents photos of Little Mr so that they would know if they recognised the kid we were looking for. I explained  to fellow campers that Himself was on his bike out looking so I was amazed and relieved when a group of parents instantly gathered around, called their kids in pyjamas from inside tents to look at the photographs and within minutes at least a dozen adults formed several search parties and set out with torches to appointed parts of the camp site looking for our son.

By now it was more dark then light and Kiwi Daughter was in tears with worry.  All I could do was stay calm,  comfort her and reassure her that I was sure that everything would be all right. All of a sudden a four wheel drive pulled up by our camper: Himself had realised that he wasn’t making progress and called the emergency after hours number for the night warden, who had now arrived to see me.

I talked to the warden about what had been going on with looking for Little Mr so far, what kind of kid Little Mr was, how adventurous etc (He’s defiantly not) and we utterly ruled out that he would have left the confines of the camp site.  When I told the night warden about the locked playground he suddenly said he might have a good idea where Little Mr was.

Kiwi Daughter got permission to go with the warden in the car because she could recognise Little Mr the fastest, Himself was still out on his bike searching and I stayed with the camper so that Little Mr would find someone home if he arrived back on his own.

A short while later the headlights of the warden’s vehicle illuminated the camper and as soon as it stopped the back door opened and Little Mr tumbled out and came running into my arms. The warden filled me in with a smile, there was apparently a second smaller  “secret” playground within the park, it was far less obvious because the rectangle of  caravans around it effectively formed a quadrangle and blocked it from casual view from the surrounding access lanes, instead there were little paths leading to it between the caravans.

This playground hadn’t been considered by the warden at first because it was quite some distance from our part of the park but when I mentioned earlier that we assumed Little Mr was in the large playground close to us, he wondered if by chance Little Mr had gone to the other one.  Luckily he had and all that had happened was that he had been so engaged in playing with some slightly older kids that he had not even registered until too later that it was by now completely dark.

Little Mr was stunned to find that he was the subject of a search but once he realised just how dark it was he was relieved that he hadn’t had to try and make his way back on his own because he had lost his bearings in the dark and gotten quite scared. We profusely thanked the warden who said it really wasn’t a problem, he was delighted with the positive outcome and for good measure he said he would drive around the camp site until he found Himself on the bike and let him know that Little Mr had been found.

Himself duly returned on the bike to let me know that he was going off again to let the other parental search parties know too and to thank them for their help.

Needless to say we accumulated quite a crowd around our camper and Little Mr  was the unwitting celebrity in the centre of the drama both that evening and the next morning when we walked around thanking people properly for their kindness and searching help. Kiwi Daughter swiftly reverted to her condescending tones of  big sister having to put up with a little brother but even she was somehow very careful to not utter the phrase “Get Lost” for the rest of the trip.  Aww….A definite sign that deep down she loves him after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2014

The Activities Are Right On Target … Even If We Are Not.

Filed under: ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,South Coast,The New Forest — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer on a holiday to England, Family Kiwidutch got their first taste of what it was like to stay at a large camping ground with all modern conveniences.

Ok… granted, if you were tent and needed a trip to the lavatory in the night it would mean a walk to the nearest amenity block but we had a camper that had it’s own toilet so I was saved any risk of stumbling around the camp-site in the dark.

Talking to a few friendly neighbours we also discovered that many of serious campers who make frequent use of camp grounds have their own port-a-loo lavatories for emergency night time use, so clearly I’m not alone in being reluctant to wander far in a sleepy state (even if I were more mobile).

The deep reservations I had about camping alongside so many other people turned out to me largely unfounded, noise was minimal later at night, many of our fellow campers also had younger kids who were going to be waking them up at the crack of dawn so any ideas of hard partying by parents into the wee hours was not really an option. Generally there was the odd burst of laughter from somewhere down the rows of family tents as adults from multiple families congregated around a bottle of wine (or box) and nibbles  and even that petered out as the clock edged towards midnight.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Considering that the long hours of daylight were keeping our kids up until ten at night, it was all relaxed and very friendly.

The relaxed atmosphere was also vastly aided by the sheer amount of activities available on site. T

hey were “extras’ in the price of the camp site so we didn’t let our kids go wild and choose every activity on the list, but they got to choose several each, and then we added one that we could do as a family.

The downside of the list of activities was that some activities were only on specific days, both our kids wanted to take a baking class but it was scheduled for later in the week  after our expected departure date so they had to settle for decorating some biscuits (cookies) instead.

The pool was available at specific times too, scheduled to fit in with things like aqua-aerobics for adults. Although our kids are getting older now they can still be kept happy for a while with a playground or a magic show or just making a few new friends and making up silly games. On one hand I sometimes get concerned that they aren’t very street-wise or old beyond their years, on the other I think that childhood is a fleeting time and if they want to stick to slightly more childish things for a little longer then why not? None of us should be forced to grow up too soon in this ultra fast paced world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Both Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr made full use of as many of the pool slots as possible and both opted for a drawing /colouring in session and a tie-dying lesson too.

In both they were the only kids in the class so had the instructors full attention.

The instructors are university students earning some cash to get them through their next year of study, the young lady helping with the tie-dying lived locally in the New Forest and was really great with the kids.

Both kids still use their tie-dyed bags and are very proud of their handiwork.

We choose archery as the activity we wanted to do as a family, and whilst the participants were expected to walk to the archery site down a rough track some distance away, as an exception they arranged for the instructors to take a vehicle down there and to give me a lift because otherwise I won’t have been able to take part. Two groups take turns doing archery so I photograph the other group whilst we wait our turn. The kids were very much inspired by the instructor’s promise of twenty packets of sweets (beers for adults who preferred that) should anyone hit a perfect bullseye, but in spite of enthusiasm all four of us quickly demonstrated that the none of us had the William Tell gene and that the prize stood no chance of accompanying us home. None of the other people managed it either and apparently it had been some years since the prize has had to be paid out so we didn’t feel too disappointed.

Himself and the kids also had fun eavesdropping on a magic show intended for younger children: it was a classic cause of them feeling far too old to take part but secretly enjoying the jokes, magic and repartee, they took the pocket camera with them whilst I had a sleep back at the camper and judging by the detailed update I got later the show was good fun no matter how old the  audience was.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

One parent gets a hard hat and a plate spinning on her head…

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

October 6, 2014

Sandy Balls Is All “Mod Cons Camping” Compared To Anything I Know….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch have finally arrived in the New Forest and at our accommodation for the next few days.

It’s the Sandy Balls Camp ground and whilst Himself and I would usually be the kind of people who prefer hiking out into the wilderness far away from crowds, it’s not a scenario idea when I have limited mobility on crutches and we two kids who feel the need for better entertainment than constantly squabbling with one another.

It’s a world away from any camping experience I’ve ever seen before,  in New Zealand as a kids I was used to just a tent, or even on occasion no tent at all, just a thin camping mat and sleeping bag under the southern hemisphere stars , running water in an ice cold mountain stream and kilometres of open space without another soul around.

It’s a shock to find that “camping” here comes with a heated swimming pool on site, activities galore, even restaurants and snack bars on the premises. Not only that, but there are not just a few rows of campers or tents like back in Folkestone, there are entire “neighbourhoods” of campers, caravans, tents and even some more of the semi permanent caravans. Almost next door to us there is even another Dutch family who have a daughter fractionally older than Kiwi Daughter but is who hesitant to mix with other kids because unlike our bilingual brood, or he much older brothers,  she doesn’t (yet) speak much English.

She’s quick to join our two and they go off to explore, leaving Himself and I to evaluate the damage to the camper more fully. The paintwork has been completely scratched off in places and Himself reports there are dents on the roof too. We resign ourselves to that fact that what is done is done and that we shouldn’t let it overshadow the rest of our holiday. The music can wait until we get back to the Netherlands.

Once again we are too lazy and tired to cook and decide on a simple meal of fish and chips, but first Himself hauls his bike out of the large internal compartment of the camper and rides off around this large complex to round up the kids who have warned us they can be found at the large playground they spotted on the way in.

I’ve already spotted several German car number plates as well as a Belgium and French one, so places like these international gathering places it seems.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 5, 2014

Making Our Way To The New Forest…

Filed under: ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,South Coast,The New Forest — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags:

Following yesterday’s post about our last summer’s camper misadventures, we are relieved to be back on larger roads and heading towards our destination of the New Forest.  Part of the journey ended up being on motorway roads, but we were no longer longing for any small roads at this point. We relax more and more as we approach our destination and start to enjoy the sight of amazing buildings along the route. When we finally get to the New Forest boundary area we start to see the New Forest ponies wandering around on the roads, as they take the right-of-way that they are allowed.  Most of them seem to know that the side of the road is the safest place to be,  and we spot not just roaming ponies but also chickens and donkeys!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A fair ground act on the move…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Horsepower of another kind…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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