I was happy to peek around the curtain and see sunshine. A good omen for the start of our trip. When we left the house at 8:15, there was a slight autumn chill on the air but by the time we reached Waterloo, this had gone and the day was warm and sunny.
At Angel we waited for “the bus that never comes”, the 341. This takes us straight to Waterloo without any changes but we often have to wait so long for it to appear that we end up taking another bus and changing. With our baggage to haul, we preferred to wait for the 341 and it turned up fairly soon—another good omen.
We have open tickets and can travel on any train to our destination, Bournemouth. Reaching Waterloo by 8:45, we had time to buy coffee and baguettes before boarding the 9:05 Weymouth train.
We find ourselves once more at the mercy of South West Trains, the company the provides no space for luggage but expects you to keep seats and corridors free. You are supposed to put your cases, no matter how heavy, on the overhead racks where they constitute an obvious danger to passengers, not least when they are being hurriedly taken down on arrival at stations.
The train was fairly full by the time we left London and the numbers boarding at Clapham junction left people standing. Tough luck for anyone travelling all the way to Weymouth.
I have noticed before that train companies often to start to run shorter trains in September despite the fact that a lot of people are still travelling. It is the triumph of accountancy over the convenience of the travelling public who, after all, provide the money to run the service and therefore deserve to be better treated. Privatising the railway system always was a bad idea, having more to do with government greed for a quick profit than any sensible plan for an improvement of the service.
Outside the window is a superb panorama with blue skies and tumbled masses of white cloud over a countryside sparkling in every imaginable shade of green, flat fields with a hazy background of hills. A heart-lifting start to our trip.
We reached Bournemouth about 11am and decided to take a cab to the hotel which is in Westbourne. Just as well, because it was further than it looked on the map. The hotel is adequate but we are in the roof with sloping walls. I have banged my head twice already and this no doubt sets the pattern for the stay.
Guess what we did first. Yes, that’s right: we made tea. And planned our next move. The sky has clouded over somewhat but the sun is still shining so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.
We walked into Westbourne where we found this rather nice arcade, and had lunch at Zoukini’s vegetarian and vegan cafe. It was very pleasant and we have “bookmarked” it for future reference.
After lunch we took the bus to Christchurch. This is quite a pretty town and we went down to the Quay and enjoyed a view of the Stour, the moorings and the coming and going of water craft. There were waterfowl, of course, particularly swans and ducks. People came and fed them so there was plenty of action, We sat on a bench where we were surrounded by swans who showed no fear of humans or any hostility to them.
Walking back to the centre, we spied the Tea Cozy Tearoom and ordered a cream tea. We explored a little further, making a mental note to return for another visit and then took a bus towards Bournemouth though we got off at Boscombe.
Unfortunately, the weather had changed and instead of sunshine we had grey skies with occasional light showers while a gusty wind lowered the temperature although we could see the sun shining further along the coast. Despite the wind and the threat of rain we took a chance and walked along the beach road to Bournemouth. This took a while and we would have stopped for tea or coffee but unsurprisingly everything was closed.
On reaching the pier, we walked through the park and stopped for hot drinks at a kiosk. We then continued up through the park and the aviary (redundantly labelled “Bird Aviary”—can there be any other kind of aviary?) up to the buses. Within minutes a 24 arrived which took us to Alum Chine and our hotel.
Even though it was only around 8pm, we have returned to the hotel and climbed the 36 steps to our room with sloping walls. We have made tea and as I write these words, Tigger is already asleep.