Monday morning I drove a familiar route from London to the New Forest. I used to live nearby the New Forest - in fact Skye was born in this neck of the woods! So, for old time's sake, I visited my old home. You should have seen Skye's tail when we walked one our our favourite New Forest walks - I honestly think she remembered it. She certainly remembered where the watering hole was! She also found all the muddiest puddles to lie in! After our walk I had to wash her down with the tank of water I keep in the van - it was a hot day and we attracted the attention of nearby horses (which, if you don't know, have right of way in the New Forest) so I quickly rushed Skye into the van and left the water on the grass...only to discover that the horse was investigating it. I had to rush over and grab it. Without even thinking how close I was to being kicked by the horse!
I stayed at a campsite just outside Lymington for a couple of nights - it was recommended to me but I have to say that my experience is not favourable. There was a busy road the other side of the hedge! On Tuesday morning, I woke to blaring sirens - it sounded like I was still in London not in the idyllic New Forest! The worst thing about the site was the lack of dog walks. On the first evening, I walked out of the site to find a nice long walk for Skye but it was busy roads at all sides of me so I kept to the site and walked Skye round and round - her tail summed it all up - it was constantly curled under her bum - too many scary noises. Another thing that bothered me - when they cut the grass, they don't collect the grass cuttings so you have grass on your shoes and it gets everywhere! The first time I tried the showers, I tested the push button shower to see which shower got the longest run of hot water - only to get a face full of water - it was so powerful the water went everywhere: on me, my clothes, on the floor. The floor was now flooded! Mixed in with the grass cuttings, which I brought in on my flip flops, meant that the drains soon blocked up! Mmm nice muddy, grassy water everywhere. I decided not to shower on the second day. Suffice to say, I won't be visiting this campsite again. I'm actually rating each campsite as I go so will post them at the end of my trip! On Tuesday I spent the day with a friend whom I hadn't seen for years. Thank you to Julie and her family for entertaining me all day and feeding me in the evening. I had a lovely time and it was awesome to catch up.
I arrived at Kay's house in Dorset on Wednesday afternoon and spent a couple of chilled out days with her family. My timing could not have been worse because Kay was getting a new kitchen put in and her house was topsy turvy but she was so accommodating - I could not have wished for a warmer welcome. On Thursday, Kay and I went to Cerne Abbas to walk the dogs. Cerne Abbas is famous for it's "Giant":
The dogs got a long walk round the Cerne Abbas Giant which included a nerve wracking walk through a field of cows! With both dogs on leads, we tried not to make eye contact with the cows but we were literally feet away from the herd and I was imagining the worst thing that could happen - Kay had been for a run in the morning so I figured she would be too tired to outrun the cows so I had a relatively good chance of escaping. Despite my fears, the cows were basking in the sunshine and didn't really bat an eyelid at us. After the walk we went to the Royal Oak for a crab sandwich which was yummy.
Then it was off to Burton Bradstock for an ice cream on a picnic bench overlooking the sea watching people swim - yes really people swimming in the sea!
I can't believe how hot it was in Dorset - high 20's on Friday...WAY too hot for a redhead like me. So this freak weather turned some of my plans upside down. It was far too hot to leave Skye in the van so going to Monkey World as planned was not an option for me on Friday morning. Instead Kay took me and her family to their beach hut.
What a luxury to have a beach hut and be able to cook your own food and sit in or out of the sun as you wish. It was a fantastic day. By mid afternoon it was time for me to say goodbye...thank you to Kay, Tony their boys and Henry the dog for putting up with another dog and human in the house. And of course, Tabitha for doing my laundry. You guys are great!
After leaving Kay's, I headed to Monkey World arriving at about 4pm. I thought it would be cooler at this time and I might have been able to nip in to see the apes for a few mins but even at that time it was too hot...with the windows open, I was sweating in the van after 10 mins - you only have to imagine what would happen to a dog in that heat. So I had to give up and head to a nearby campsite. Compared to my last campsite, this was a lot quieter though the toilet block had seen better days and the mossies were a nightmare! Talking of which I got bitten by a mosquito at Kay's house - on my big toe...I saw it happen which is even worse...now my toe is all swollen and very painful - luckily I'm wearing flip flops all the time because I don't think I could get anything else on my feet!
On Saturday my toe was even worse! The swelling had spread over my whole foot and the bite was blistered and painful. I could hardly walk! So Saturday ended up being a mixed day. A bad start due to painful swelling in big toe but I managed to get about 45 mins at Monkey World in the morning before the intense heat hit. Check out some of the shots I got as a ran round my favourite ape enclosures:
As I reached a queue of traffic at Bridport, poor Dougal started to overheat - I watched the temperature gauge creep up and up and feared for an AA call out so I stopped and gave Skye a quick walk and give Dougal a chance to cool down. Another 2 hours later, along some very narrow and twisty roads, we finally made it to Slapton Sands campsite - an unfortunate name!!! By this time, my foot was unbearable. I had been feeling the swelling spread as I drove and was astonished to see a very sore, swollen foot when I finally stopped. Ouch. My first walk was to the local shop where I bought every manner of antiseptic, plaster and painkiller. The store keeper did raise an eyebrow and I was tempted to show him my foot to justify my purchases but then I thought against it.
Apart from nearly overheating, Dougal is doing great. We are now over half way through my road trip and have done over 1,000 miles. I've had an easy week actually because I've had many meals with friends and haven't done much cooking in the van. Well, from now on it's all campsites - this will be my longest run of campsites but I'm really looking forward to it as I'm going to areas I've never been to before. Skye is doing brilliantly too...she's a nervous dog and all this change - going to people's houses, strange noises at campsites is bound to unnerve her...I can tell she's a bit on edge and is definitely clingy with me but I think she's coping really well. I have made some plans along the way to meet uni lecturers and animal centre workers but some of these plans might have to be scrapped if this hot weather continues. I won't put Skye at any risk so if I don't make it to some meetings, I'll have to do it over the phone. Either way, my plans have been scuppered by good weather and it's not often you can say that! At least I've had a great holiday!