The southern English county of Hampshire is only two hours from London by car or by frequent rail services. The county has much to offer regardless whether you seek fast moving cities, rural open countryside, or beaches and boat trips.
On the coast you will find the bustling fierce rival city ports of Portsmouth, (fighting ships), and Southampton, (merchant and cruise liners). In Portsmouth you must visit the historic dockyard. Go on board Horatio Nelson's flagship "Victory", check out the "Warrior" and Henry the eighth's "Mary Rose" which is still undergoing restoration after being raised from the seabed. Take an hour's cruise to the Isle of Wight and see Britain's biggest yachting extravaganza at Cowes week. Southampton is the traditional homes of the Cunarder Queen liners. It still is, and fabulous views can be had of the spectacular liners coming and going up Southampton water from Calshot beach in the south of the county.
To the west of Southampton lies the tranquillity of the New Forest. The New Forest was established in the eleventh century by William the first as his personal hunting grounds. Thousands of wild ponies, deer, cattle, donkeys, and at certain times of the year pigs can be seen all over the forest running free. Drive with care at all times! Good months to visit are early May to take in and photograph the foaling season, and September, to see the roundup, known locally as the drift, when all the ponies are rounded up and branded and checked for health problems.
If you go walking in the forest, and you can go just about anywhere and it costs nothing, ensure you wear stout shoes as the Forest is the stronghold of Britain's only poisonous snake, the adder. All the town's stock antidote these days and deaths are unheard of, but an adder bite can still inflict nasty pain. Bites are very rare, adders are small snakes that rush off into the undergrowth, but just in case you should stand on one, good shoes are a must.
Check out Lyndhurst in the centre of the forest, Burley for the witches, I kid you not, Brockenhurst for the ponies, restaurants, hotels, and main line quick rail links, and lastly Lymington for sailing and interesting shops and antiques. To the north east of the county you will find Winchester, Hampshire's third city and the county town. This is a smaller ancient city boasting an impressive Cathedral, burial place of Jane Austen, as well as the monument to King Alfred, he of the burning of the cakes fame, Wessex's own ancient king.
There are ample opportunities for golf, sailing, and riding, and fly fishing too on the three majestic rivers, Itchen, Test and Avon. They can provide fishing on rivers as beautiful as you will find anywhere. If sea fishing is your thing check out Lymington where boat trips are to be had all year round. Hampshire is unquestionably one of England's most beautiful counties and a week would never be enough to take in all it has to offer. Why not stay for two? There is a wide variety of accommodation available from small inexpensive boarding houses to international standard hotels, cottages to riverside marina apartments. You can see thousands of cottages, villas and apartments worldwide on my web site now at www.pebblebeachmedia.co.uk.
Have a good holiday! And take care.
David Carter has written and published hundreds of articles over more years than he cares to remember. His latest work is SPLAM! a 244 page book on property letting and management. He runs three websites, SPLAM! for property, Homemax crammed with ideas for those who work from home, and Pebble Beach Media where you can find thousands of superb holiday cottages, villas and apartments worldwide.
He has recently completed a new novel "White Flags" which will be available in the new year.
splam.co.uk for property letting and management
homemax.co.uk for working from home and small business
pebblebeachmedia.co.uk for worldwide holiday accommodation