As we have no reservations for the train, we can go back to London at any time, though I suspect that the London train maybe busy especially at certain times. We start the day by packing, always a slightly fraught exercise as you may be taking away more than you brought.
We have arranged to leave the bags at the hotel until later. We set off down Alum Chine for the last time, at least on this trip, and turned west along the seafront. Among joggers, cyclists and walkers we progressed along to Sandbanks before stopping for coffee in a beach cafe, notable for its collection of old clocks.
It is another warm and sunny day with a blue sky almost entirely clear of clouds. Despite the early hour (it was still only 10am when we stopped for coffee) there is plenty of activity both on the beach and among the beach-hut fraternity. Various events have been organized as it is Saturday.
Our plan was to go to either Poole Quay or Swanage for a boat ride. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. We walked up from the seafront to the main road, intending to catch the number 50 bus to Studland. The bus came but swept past without stopping, the driver signalling that the bus was full.
Giving up on this idea, we took a bus back in the direction of Westbourne and there changed to a bus for Poole. At Poole, we were about ready to abandon the enterprise because the time spent waiting for buses had delayed us too much and it was getting late. However, a Route One bus turned up, so we boarded it to go to Poole Quay.
We soon found ourselves bogged down in heavy traffic, with valuable minutes ticking away on the clock. In the end, we disembarked at the Quay and for lunch chose The Portsmouth Hoy, one of the picturesque little pubs on the waterfront.
We now had an intricate task to perform. The first part was easy – take Route One back to Poole bus station – and so was the second part – take the 1c back to Westbourne. The intricate part involved the 24. There is only one an hour and we had to take it to the road where our hotel is, collect the baggage and get up the road back to the stop in time to catch the 24 again as it came back from its terminus a few minutes away at the bottom of the chine.
We boarded at 14:39 and reached our road a few minutes later. We weren’t sure at what time it was due back to our stop but we did know it left the terminus 14:50.
We ran down the road, recovered the bags, and went up the hill again as quickly as we could. We reached our stop with a few minutes to spare!
The official name of the stop is Herbert Road but it is the one we call Ladybird Dell because it’s in a dip beside a wooded area and the fence posts are covered with ladybirds of all colours and patterns.
The bus carried us to the rather grand Bournemouth station, where we are awaiting the 15:59 to Waterloo, hoping it will not be too crowded.
The train is not very crowded though that may change as we continue along the line. We have pair of table seats in the small standard section of the front carriage which is otherwise given over to first class accommodation.
Bournemouth was not quite as I expected even though we had visited it in passing on previous occasions. There are good bits but the whole seems rather a mixture without an obvious centre. I have heard of people retiring here but, to be honest, I cannot see why. There are much nicer places. Perhaps it has something to do with childhood memories and the persistence of faded myths.
I understand too, that Bournemouth is regarded by some as “the Gay capital of Dorset”, which is fine but Brighton, not that much further along the coast, would surely offer serious competition.
Fortunately, there are places to visit in the general area and these are easily accessible by bus and train. An obvious one is Stonehenge, an intriguing and historically fascinating site, rather different from the usual tourist diet of castles and cathedrals.
Salisbury and Shaftesbury also have their attractions and are worth a visit or rather, many visits, as it takes time to get to know and exhaust all they have to offer.
I have always dismissed Poole as little more than a bus station and an unprepossessing shopping centre. This impression was happily corrected by my introduction to Poole Quay. It seems that Poole has two faces, the one I knew and the more pleasant waterside face.
This ends our travels for this year, apart from day trips and courier runs. It remains to be seen what adventures the colder months bring and in the meantime we shall be planning next year’s expeditions.
The immediate plan is simple: go home, dump our bags, go to Spices for supper. What better way to round off the trip than with (another) Indian dinner?