Click on image to enlarge if needed. Clockwise from top left: 1. Ferry shed window 2. Poole Harbour on ice 3. Ferry with bus 4. Jetty 5. Ferry shed detail 6. Shore Road, Poole 7. All aboard 8. Street furniture 9. Our ferry arrives
NAH and I made one of our regular trips to Poole yesterday to see his aunt - always an enjoyable experience. We arrived at midday and immediately entered her timewarp where lunch takes at least 3 hours, very continental and relaxing. When asked what she'd like to do for the rest of the afternoon, she requested a trip to Sandbanks, on the edge of Poole and always an interesting place to visit, for me in winter particularly as I think that's the best time to be at the seaside.
Our trip took us past Evening Hill, scene of many a windsurfing weekend and holiday for us, though with no windsurfers to view yesterday as we'd arrived at low tide. Poole is always an interesting place to windsurf as it has a double high tide owing to the proximity of the Isle of Wight. Evening Hill is a great spot - good onshore winds and forgiving waters when you fall in as much of the vast sailing area is very shallow. The top middle photo shows this area and the little strip of land top right is part of Brownsea Island where Baden Powell held the first ever scout camp. Today the island is in the care of the National Trust and is home to a population of rare red squirrels. The low tide was the furthest out we'd ever seen - I'm wondering if tonight's full moon and its orbit's close proximity to Earth have something to do with it.
We parked at Shore Road, one of Poole's beaches on the seaward side. This is part of Sandbanks, an narrow strip of land with some of the most expensive property in the world - only Hong Kong is more expensive per square mile. This area always feels like it's not strictly part of England, the pine trees and vegetation look more Mediterranean than English and the Italian ice cream colours of the various architect designed properties add to this feel. There's a strange juxtaposition here - millionaire's row sits very firmly alongside an area popular with families for the traditional bucket and spade holiday. I wonder who gets more enjoyment? The families certainly won yesterday - no millionaire could be seen on their balcony, but plenty of families were togged out in coats, hats and woolly scarves happily building sandcastles on the beach, although lots of running and giggling seemed to be needed to keep warm.
Having photographed the Shore Road side at sunset, I hurriedly walked through the grounds of Sandbanks Hotel to get onto the Poole Harbour side of the peninsula to make use of the dying light. I was surprised to find the sea on the high tide line on the beach was frozen solid, something that's not happened there for well over a decade (it was even more dramatic earlier on in the week - do have a look here). Jumping up and down on the ice was added to the activities seen at Shore Road. On getting back to the car, we realised that the traffic back into Poole was horrendous, so decided to go to the end of Sandbanks and have a look at the ferry. This is another juxtaposition - there's narrow strip of water here usually populated with gin palace-like yachts and all kinds of sailing craft which contrast with the dumpy looking chain ferry plying between Sandbanks and Shell Bay.
The ferry had just left with a bus on board - such is the saving in distance to get to Swanage, a trip on it is part of the local service. We patiently waited for the ferry to come back so we could board, taking our place behind an ambulance. Here another juxtaposition awaits - the ferry leaves an essentially urban spot and lands on a national nature reserve in the care of the National Trust. It's like entering another country and is one of my most favourite places in the world. The stretch of water between urban and natural is small and I suspect a bridge has never been built between the two as the ferry acts as a crude control on the number of people and cars accessing the area. There was just about enough light to be able to see the unusual heathland vegetation, though too late for any birds.
We were now on the Isle of Purbeck, not an island, but a narrow stretch of land bounded by the sea on one side and the vastness of Poole Harbour on the other - the harbour is the second largest in the world, beaten only by Sydney. Most of the land is low lying, but in the middle rises a hill of strategic importance topped by Corfe Castle which can be seen for miles. Travelling through here at dusk, just added to the mysteriousness of the place and the silhouetted castle looked its most foreboding in spite of being a ruin.
We were too late to take in a stop at Wareham and its turfed town walls as by now it was almost dark. So we wound our way back to Poole for a well earned, highly fattening tea (NAH's aunt always looks after us very well in that department), before heading back home after a lovely day.