Our first trip after the 2020 summer of social distancing and lockdowns was to the New Forest, staying at Daisybank Cottage, a delightful Arts and Crafts B & B on the edge of Brockenhurst. It was a slightly odd experience, hardly surprising in the circumstances, but we enjoyed ourselves very much. This time we stayed in a room named after the cottage’s architect, Charles Brightiff, a Charles Rennie Mackintosh devotee.
No matter how many times I looked at the weather app Thursday looked like a washout for walking so we checked into Daisybank as early as we could on Wednesday and took ourselves off for a walk over moorland bright with patches of purple heather.
Thanks to some friends we did have a plan for Thursday which was as wet and chilly as promised. The Russell-Cotes in Bournemouth is the kind of slightly bonkers museum I love. Housed in the mansion Merton Russell-Cotes gave his wife Annie for her sixty-sixth birthday, raising the bar rather high for her sixty-seventh, it’s home to an eclectic collection of artifacts accumulated over their travels around the world. The collection itself would have been impressive enough but it’s the house that’s the main attraction, decorated in a wonderfully eccentric style including a Moorish alcove, painted ceilings, frescoed walls and stained-glass roofs. A great way to spend a wet holiday morning. The views out over the bay must be splendid when the sun’s out.
Lovely walking weather on Friday morning so that’s what we did, spotting lots of ponies grazing who’d probably spent Thursday sheltering stoically under the trees. In the afternoon we reprised our trip to pretty seaside Lymington, much busier than the last time we were there, where there’s still no independent bookshop but Waterstones came up trumps.
We headed home on Saturday after an enjoyable, refreshing break, just right for the turn of the season, summed up in that last shot of honeysuckle and hawthorn berries. Mischief was a wee bit standoffish when we arrived but soon recovered herself as the clock ticked down to feeding time.
And the book? I’d just started Calla Henkel’s Other People’s Clothes, set in 2008, featuring two New York art students spending a year in Berlin who find themselves living in a palatial, if chilly, apartment owned by a bestselling author. As they set about serous partying, one trying to get over the murder of her best friend, the other obsessed with Amanda Knox, they both become convinced they’re being watched. Enjoyable enough but it failed to live up to the breathlessly ecstatic puffs on the cover for me.