Today is my last day in this area so it was hard for me to decide what to do. I started off in Christchurch which is only a few miles from here. It’s a lovely old town with a beautiful Priory church which thankfully wasn’t knocked down by Henry VIII.
I met an old bloke in the church who was very knowledgeable & enjoyed telling me all about it. Apparently when Henry seized it from the monks, he gave the church to the town because there was no other church in the area for them to use. It’s the size of a cathedral, in fact it’s the largest church in England that hasn’t been made into a cathedral.
There was a Saxon church on the site but this building was started by the Normans in about 1080 & there’s still plenty of Norman features visible today. It has some lovely stained glass windows & a beautiful Chantry Chapel built as her tomb by Margaret, Countess of Salisbury but unfortunately she didn’t get to use it.
Her son was a Cardinal who published an attack on Henry VIII & in retaliation, Henry executed every member of the family he could get his hands on, including Margaret who was over 70 at the time. She refused to kneel at the block so was beheaded standing up which must have been a really messy affair. So extreme was Henry’s rage that he refused to allow her body to be buried in the beautiful chapel she had prepared & she was buried at the Tower of London in the cemetery for traitors.
There’s not much left of the Priory or the Castle at Christchurch so I moved on to Bournemouth where I just drove along the waterfront. It was very busy & hard to find a park so I kept going to Poole where I had my lunch in the sunshine, sitting on the waterfront at Poole Quay.
Poole is actually one of the largest natural harbours in the world but it wasn’t a good day today. I intended to catch a ferry to Brownsea Island, in the middle of Poole harbour but all the ferries included a one hour harbour cruise. Even though it was sunny, it was very hazy so the harbour cruise seemed to be a waste of time & money when the price for seniors was £8.50. Then I found out that Brownsea Island belongs to National Trust & they charge you £6.50 to land there. It seemed too much to go walk in the woods & maybe see a red squirrel. If it was a perfect day, I might have considered it.
I looked around the Old Town of Poole, then drove around Sandbanks which is at the entrance to Poole Harbour & is supposedly one of the most expensive residential areas in the world. There’s some beautiful houses there & I bet they look even more impressive from the water.
Then I headed for home again. There’s a fuss going on at the moment because the fuel tanker drivers are threatening to go on strike. Of course, there’s a huge panic with school holidays & Easter coming up. I would guess about 75% of the service stations I passed today were closed & the ones that were open had huge lines. I passed one just outside Bournemouth which for some reason didn’t have much of a line so I topped up because I have to get to Stroud tomorrow & I’d used about 1/3 of a tank yesterday & today.
It’s Friday night which is always Champagne night & I just happened to find a bottle of my favourite NZ brand, Lindauer, on special a few days ago. I’ll just go over & send this off & then it will be time to pop the cork. Cheers!