We were up again today in good time and reached Waterloo by 8:35am. We found a train for our destination leaving at 8:54. This is another £10 trip and today we are going to Poole. The day is sunny and warm with with no more than patches of thin clouds. The weather can easily vary over the length of a train ride but on present showing it promises to be another hot day like yesterday. The train divides at Southampton so we are in the front carriages which continue on to Poole. The train is again packed but we now realize that Bournemouth is the magnet so perhaps Poole will be quieter, allowing us to find seats for the return journey more easily than yesterday.
As we proceeded, more and more people boarded until the train was so full that at each station it left behind would-be travellers unable to squeeze on board. Because of the slowness in loading, the train lost time at each station and was about 9 minutes late at Brockenhurst. This delay was sufficient for us to miss our “slot” and to need to be kept at Brockenhurst while two fast trains were allowed to overtake us.
The reason for the crush was the air show at Bournemouth which, in combination with South West Trains’ £10 tickets offer, provides a cheap day out for families. We were looking forward to arriving at Bournemouth, thinking that a mass disembarkation would make conditions more comfortable for the final run to Poole. Instead, to add insult to injury, our train was taken out of service there because of late running and we had to wait on Bournemouth station for the next train to Poole.
Having arrived at Poole, we went to the bus station and took a bus to Sandbanks. We were not sure where to get off the bus so we followed another couple whom seemed to know where they were going. Result: a pretty walk down to the beach along a path lined with trees and greenery.
We knew were reaching our goal when we came upon painted beach huts and a glimpse of the sea.
We walked along the promenade overlooking the broad sandy beach. Because of the hot sunny weather, the beach was crowded and many people were enjoying activities in and on the water. Bournemouth is in view just along the coast, and we could see the aircraft participating in the air show there.
We were hoping to discover a good place for lunch but found only rows of beach huts and the occasional ice cream stall until we reached the Branksome Beach restaurant, which now occupies the old bathing station. We were given a table where we could also watch the aircraft participating in the air show.
The food was good and the staff pleasant but the service abominably slow. We had to wait a long time even for them to take our order and then wait again for the food to be brought. Even when it was delivered, one part of the order was not brought until we had nearly finished the meal. It seems that the restaurant is happy to accept more customers than it is able to deal with adequately.
From Branksome, we started back on foot to Poole. We walked up through Branksome Park. This must once have been a very pleasant public garden with a stream running through it. Some care has been taken in its design and decoration. I can imagine it once being a very amenable place for strolling and sitting taking the air but today, unfortunately, it is in a sadly neglected state. The plant beds are unkempt and littered with rubbish, and the water, stagnant and stinking in places, was dirty and polluted. The garden slopes up fairly steeply and we had to cope with cyclists, singly and in groups, speeding down the footpath without regard to pedestrians.
At the top of the hill, we exited into Western Road. I might describe it as millionaires’ row because it is lined with big houses set in extensive grounds. We were hoping to find a bus to carry us to Poole and were happy to sight a bus shelter ahead of us, but when we reached it, we found the stop had been decommissioned. Perhaps the millionaires don’t like the idea of common folk loitering in their domain.
When we reached Penn Hill, we took refreshments at a pub called Bankes Bistro. It had once been two shops, a butcher’s and a fishmonger’s, and the the original front tiling from these was still in place.
We thought about taking a cab back to Poole but Tigger found from her Internet enabled phone that Parkstone station was 1.1 miles along the road so we decided to walk. She was even able to look it up on a map on her phone. Gee, ain’t modern technology wonderful!
From Parkstone, we took a train back to Poole and waited on the station there for the 17:32 Waterloo train. As this train comes there from Weymouth, it was already well occupied, though we managed to find a couple of seats together. We expected to endure a miserable journey back to London similar to that of the day before because the visitors to the air show would now be leaving to go home.
The train did become crowded at Bournemouth, with standing room only, but not as badly as on the arrival leg. However, to add injury to insult, we were informed that all the toilets except one at the front of the train were out of order. South West Trains does it again! This is an utter disgrace.
So what impressions do we have from our day out? Putting it discreetly, we agreed that it was “less successful” than yesterday’s. I think our visit to Poole, Branksome and Penn Hill, though pleasant enough in themselves, were overshadowed by our anxiety about the conditions we would face on the return journey.
Back in London, we went for a walk, enjoying the lights and the evening calm. Even the London Eye looked pretty, a big bicycle wheel decorated with amethyst coloured lights.
We had a drink in a local branch of All Bar One, now feeling much more cheerful, and then took the bus home.