Saturday, and we are off again, taking advantage of South West Trains’ “Midsummer Madness” offer of £10 return tickets to any destination on their network over the weekend.
Arriving at Waterloo at 8:25, Tigger went to address the ticket machines while I bought baguettes from Upper Crust. We managed to complete our respective tasks in time to board the 8:35.
Upper Crust had been low on stock so I was not surprised to find the train well attended. Because of imminent departure, we entered at the nearest door and then walked down the train looking for a pair of seats with reasonable leg room. Once settled we had breakfast as the train rumbled through the suburbs on what looks to be a warm sunny day.
At Woking, large numbers of people joined the train which is now crowded.
By the time we reached Eastleigh, clouds had completely covered the sky and it would soon start raining. Still more people swarmed aboard and from now until we changed at Brockenhurst, it would be standing room only for new passengers.
What was the reason for the crush, apart from the cheap tickets? I don’t really know but I did see that there is an air show this weekend at Bournemouth and I know how popular these can be, especially with cheap travel on offer.
We left the crowded train at Brockenhurst. It had been raining and a smell of wet woodlands brought back memories of long walks across country.
The train to Lymington Pier is an old slam-door model, making me feel we had taken a step back in time. Quite a pleasant feeling really. We sat on the left so as to have a view of the landscape, still tranquil and beautiful, despite the grey sky and damp atmosphere.
Sheep grazed in the fields and I noticed how the lambs had by now grown into small adults. A break in the clouds let through a flash of sunlight. Perhaps the weather will perk up after all.
We arrived at the picturesque Lymington Town station and the weather did indeed perk up. The station is in a quieter residential area but a short walk takes you the High Street where there are the shops and hotels, and today, the market.
We first went down via Quay Hill and Quay Street, with their little shops, to the waterside at the Quay. The sun was now shining and the vista of water and boats was colourful and uplifting. We walked along as far as the recreation ground and there spread the blanket to rest and take in the surroundings, “grass surfing”, as Tigger calls it.
There was a lot to see, from the 1889 memorial drinking fountain to the splendid green caterpillar…
… and from the Isle of Wight ferry to the lichen-patterned tree trunks.
Exploring for lunch, we found The Mayflower hotel and restaurant in what looks like an old inn.
After lunch, it was so hot that we walked along Bath Road back to the recreation ground for some more “grass surfing” and enjoying the riverine view.
Then it was time to visit the High Street and the market, though by now many of the stalls had closed or were packing up. Costa offered irresistible temptations so we went in for refreshments, after which we continued along the High Street to St Thomas’s church and sat for a while in the cemetery which, in the sunlight, was a pleasant and the peaceful place. We watched the wood pigeons about their social activities.
We went on following the street, which now becomes St Thomas’s Street, and eventually turned back and retraced out steps. Reaching the end of the High Street where it meets Captain’s Row, we had the choice of going straight back to the station or of descending Quay Hill to the Quay once more.
We took the latter option and sat for a while on a bench near the Ship Inn, enjoying the evening sunshine and watching the antics of the Black-Headed Gulls as they foraged for food and had disputes with one another.
At last we felt it was time to move on, so we returned to our starting point, Lymington Town station. Within a few minutes the shuttle train arrived and carried us back to Brockenhurst where we were to catch the train to Waterloo.
When the Waterloo train came in, it was already packed and there was standing room only. We boarded and stood in door area with a couple of other people. At Southampton, we decided to get off and wait for the next Waterloo train, hoping that the crowds would have thinned a little. A few other people followed our example.
When the next Waterloo train arrived, it was even more packed than the one we had left! Nevertheless, we boarded, thinking to try the same trick at Winchester and “bunny hop” all the way to London, if necessary. If nothing else, these train changes gave some relief from the crowded trains as we could sit down and get some fresh air.
At Winchester, we bade farewell to our crowded train and waited for the next, due in only 4 minutes. When it arrived, we easily found seats, the only penalty being that this was the stopping train and would take longer to complete the journey.
By the time we reached Waterloo, it was nearly 10pm so we thought we had better eat there and then, rather than try to find something nearer home. We found a branch of Azurro still open, and rounded off the day with pizza.
Apart from the crowded trains, it was a good day out. Lymington is a pretty town with some handsome buildings and all the usual amenities for the visitor. The jewel in its crown, so to speak, is its old quay where you can sit or walk with picturesque views over the broad mouth of the Lymington river which here is packed with yachts, dinghies and small boats of every description. An extensive area is dedicated to boatyards where repairs and maintenance are in progress.
On a sunny day it is a colourful and pleasant town to visit, with cafes and shops to visit and on Saturday a street market to explore. At the top end of the High Street, there are antiques shops, should your fancy turn in that direction.