Traveling with a baby is definitely not an idea of fun for many. I have in the recent weeks, cancelled plans because I just cannot be bothered packing the nappy bag, arranging for substitute clothes and making sure that every tiny thing is up to speed while we are out. But going out actually is not just wonderful for a growing baby (change of scenery is supposed to stimulate and develop their senses) but it is extremely essential for the parent too who can catch a break. So without further ado, here are some places in and around Hampshire that are baby and pushchair friendly.

Virginia Water, Surrey: 

Baby's day out

Located on the southern edge  of Windsor Great Park near Ascot, Virginia Water Lake Reservoir is a great place to enjoy a scenic and pleasant walk. The lake  forms the heart of the affluent Virginia Water village and was created from a water body that existed in the 17th century. The circuit around the lake is about 4.5 miles or 7.2 kilometers and consists of both paved and natural path, this makes it a perfect place to enjoy a pleasant walk with your baby in a pushchair. What makes the walk interesting is the number of eye-catching features that gives character to this place. You will find a luscious cascade, a 100 foot totem pole, replica of a ruined city which was imported from North Africa (pictured above) and so on. I felt that showing these things to the baby was really making her happy whilst stimulating her senses. The best part of the park? It is free (except for parking charges) and is open from 8AM to 7PM every day.

South Sea Beach, Portsmouth: 

south sea beach. portsmouth

I love the sea side and wanted my little one to get acquainted with it at the earliest. Her first beach stop was the South Sea beach, Portsmouth. Although a shingle beach, it has a very tantalizing affect. The beach is made of many  different types of stones, scattered and littered. There is a paved way just outside which makes it easier to navigate the place with your pushchair. There are two piers–the south parade pier and the Clarence Pier; the sites are now amusement centers. On a nice summary day, you will find people enjoying kite flying, para sailing and BBQ. The South Sea is a perfect place to enjoy a nice picnic with your loved ones. Just make sure to wrap your little bundle of joy with layers as the sea side can get cold and windy even during summer.

Royal Victoria Country Park, Southampton:

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons, Hethurs

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons, Hethurs

I love open spaces and gardens and I have realised that taking the baby out to a garden is a great way to calm her down. The Royal Victoria Country Park located in Southampton is a 200 acres mature woodland and grassy parkland, with a small shingle beach. The Park is an ideal place to enjoy some weekend relaxation and leisure with your family.  The park’s ancient woodlands, large open spaces, boardwalks and ponds makes it a great place to enjoy a stroller friendly walk with your little one. From 1863 until 1966, the site was home to the Royal Victoria Hospital. The Hampshire County Council acquired the place in 1969 and opened the park to the public in 1970. All that remains of the hospital is the chapel, which acts as a heritage centre providing history of the hospital. This park has greenery, expansive open spaces and plenty of eye-catching birds and mammals that makes the visit all the more interesting for your baby.

Hope you enjoyed this travel post. Don’t forget to show me your love with your likes and comments or better still follow me. Have a great week ahead 🙂 

I cannot believe that I have been this MIA, I don’t think I have ever gone without posting at least 2 posts each week since starting this blog but finally nature is taking a toll on me and as my due date nears I feel my energy is zapping out like crazy. I feel a little ashamed to admit this: but I am no super mum-to- be as I thought I would be. Traveling, walking and exploring a new place is something which still cheers my exhausted senses and this Easter break, as long distance travel is now out of bounds, we decided to explore the beautiful Cliveden Gardens located in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

A thriving Tulip garden

A thriving Tulip garden

Near the Water Garden

Near the Water Garden

Set on the banks of River Thames, Cliveden House is an Italianate mansion which was once the home of Nancy Astor, an American born British politician and her husband. Today, the House has been turned into a luxury hotel. Yes, it is as luxurious as luxury comes but we were interested in the outside this time. The entire estate extends to 375 acres (1.52 km2) of which about 180 acres (0.73 km2) comprise the gardens whilst woodland and paddocks comprise the rest.

There are quite a few cluster of gardens like the Parterre, themed gardens and of course the woodlands. We started our journey from the Clock tower (pictured below) and after a nice walk reached the Water Garden–a pretty little landscaped garden.

Weekends breaks in UK

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The central feature of the water garden is a diminutive pagoda that was purchased in the 20th century. The Pagoda is flanked with beautiful foliage in a every colour you can imagine whilst few Bamboo trees and wisteria gives it a Chinese Garden look. This was definitely a popular spot of the estate and it was easy to see why (see my second picture below). The sparkling stream, the leafy trees, beautiful blooms and the intimate pagoda gives it a rather romantic vibe.

Cliveden Gardens, Berkshire

 

 

Cliveden Gardens, Berkshire

The Cliveden Gardens also gets its character from well-etched sculptures placed strategically in its various nooks and crannies. I have been quite fortunate to explore various gardens in UK from the Chelsea Physic Garden in Chelsea, London to Oxford Botanic Garden but this definitely has to be one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens I have visited so far.

Run by UK’s National Trust, this place is also quite child-friendly with several rides and attractions exclusively for the kiddos–perhaps this is the reason why it is so popular with families. We could not explore the Woodlands this time but the fresh, leafy garden punctuated by beautiful Spring blooms was just what the doctor ordered and I cannot wait to go back.

Hope you liked this post on Cliveden Gardens and would visit the place at least once. Please don’t hesitate to give your likes and comments and don’t forget to follow me. I always follow back 🙂

 

As UK gears up for another spring, I can’t wait to breathe in the fresh, sun-shine filled air, take in the lovely daffodils that are springing up in every street corner and once again explore the lovely, dense, wild woods near my vicinity. If you are coming to UK or are in UK, I urge you to explore the wild, uninhibited woodlands UK offers. Here are my top three favourite picks from Hampshire.

The Vyne Woods, Basingstoke:

forest3-7

 

unfiltered blue skies-7

 

I love the tranquility, serenity and the promise of unexpected that woodland represents. The Vyne Woods situated in Basingstoke, Hampshire definitely encapsulates all these qualities. Basingstoke is notorious for being a place where nothing much happens; but this woodland wonder will change your mind. It is perfect to stroll around and exercise those tired limbs on a sunny, lazy afternoon. Adjacent to the stately Vyne gardens and the House; a 16th century country house; the Vyne woodlands is a place where you can easily and happily lose yourself to the untamed charm of nature. There are many walking trails that criss-cross these woods. And don’t be surprised if you come across owls, woodpeckers and even red Deer whilst you are walking. We had a taste of the unexpected when there was a flurry of action as a herd of deer passed us without any fair warning and out of nowhere but then that’s the beauty of wilderness it strikes when you least expect it. The 3.5 mile walk is great to enjoy some walking meditation accompanied only by pristine, untamed and unflappable nature.

New Forest:

New Forest

Every spring/ summer we have a ritual to explore this unspoilt and pristine ancient woodland either by walking or cycling. The New Forest is not actually “new” it was named “Nova Foresta” and was the hunting ground of William the conqueror way back in 1079. This 193,000 acre of land has 143 miles of walking/ cycling track. Needless to say, there are a number of endless routes and we are often surprised to discover a “new” path every new season. As you tread along its beautiful path, you will come across a plethora of picturesque villages, stately tea-rooms, gurgling streams and everything in between. And if you get tired of walking in woodland you can always visit the town of Lymington, check out a section of Solent Way or take a stroll along the beautiful coast line with magnificent views of the Isle of Wight. It is definitely my favourite place to get a whiff of fresh air and relax after a busy week.

West Wood, Winchester:

 

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

 

With its gently rolling arable farmland, small blocks of woodlands, dense and rich beech plantation, this 251 hectare freehold woodland, is a classic English beauty. Adjacent to the Crab Wood Nature Reserve this beautiful woodland area is also home to range of birds and animals like Roe deer, rabbits, stoats and buzzards. It is also packed with other rare flora and fauna as well as wild flowers like bluebells (which comes out in spring) and is a perfect place for getting to grips with nature.

 

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

 

With an imposing Cathedral on one side and an idyllic town on the other, Winchester Christmas Market looks like a film set all set for a Christmas magic. It is not a film set but it certainly sets the scene for a winter wonderland. Founded in 2006, the Christmas market boasts of being one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. It’s neither the oldest nor the biggest but it definitely sets the pace with its merry, yuletide atmosphere.

Take a walk down narrow cobbled roads and past the velvety gardens of the Cathedral and you will a see a scene straight out of a post card. There are around 100 little shops set in pretty wooden chalets whilst the lofty Gothic structure gives a stunning backdrop. Situated in the heart of Cathedral’s historic Inner Close and surrounded by an open-air real ice rink, the Winchester Christmas Market is reminiscent of ancient European markets.

wintry wonderland

 

The concept of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. The first Christmas Market was held in 1434 and was known as the Dresden Christmas Market. Since then, Christmas Markets became a significant tradition, it is essentially a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent.

traditional food stall

traditional food stall

Lovely Stocking fillers

Lovely Stocking fillers

The Winchester Christmas Market is one of loveliest Markets which offers a plethora of Christmas art, crafts and food. While you are here, don’t forget to warm yourself with a soothing cup of mulled wine or dig into some scrumptious mince pies. There’s plenty to take home too, this year the market features some of the finest British craftsmen and women offering unique jewels, paintings, textile art, glass painting and stuffed toys. Filing up the stocking never seemed this easy!

Scenes from nativity, a dazzling tree, sparkly rides and a chance to meet Father Christmas will definitely keep the little ones happy. What’s more? The whole thing builds up to a festive climax with the wonderful Christmas Eve carol concert in Winchester Cathedral.