My sisters expressed an interest in taking Mini out for the day on Saturday and I decided to take advantage of this offer, which resulted in Daddy and I having approximately 48 hours to ourselves. We both love Bournemouth (and its surrounding area) and try to get down there as often as possible, and so this is where we ended up at the weekend.
Being parents, we are perpetually cash poor but tend to view this as rather exciting as it gives us the opportunity to look for cheap or, preferably, free things to do when we are out and about. And Bournemouth provides a number of great things that fall into the "affordable" category.
We started out with a trip to Dean Court to pick up tickets for the EC Cup, which were very reasonably priced. We then headed to the Sovereign Centre in neighbouring Boscombe for a bit of window shopping (the weather was awful at this stage) and lunch. There was a market on the street outside, selling a variety of fresh foods including fish presumably caught in the sea not 5 miles from where it was being sold.
After lunch, we headed back to Dean Court to watch an obscure German team hammer a premier league side from Russia, and to see the cherries struggle against the Glenn Hoddle Academy team who were eventually beaten on penalties. The stadium itself is interesting in the fact that it has only three sides (north, west and east stands), though I would only recommend you visit Dean Court if you're a football fan and it is match day.
By the time the football was over, it was nearing 6pm, the sky had cleared and the sun was out. We drove to the cliffs that run the length of the coast and parked between Boscombe and Bournemouth piers. We decided that it was a little late to try out the Urban Surf Reef just east of Boscombe Pier but vowed to add it to our next Dorset itinerary.
We took in the view from the clifftop for a few minutes before heading down one of the zigzag paths that takes you all the way down to the beach (the cliff lift was closed!).
And what a beach! As one more accustomed to the unattractive pebbles, smelly seaweed and murky water of Worthing beach, it is always a delight to take in the sights and sounds of Bournemouth's golden sands and warm, aquamarine surf.
We walked to the amusements at the head of the pier and spent a fair amount of money trying to win some 2 pence pieces before stepping outside just in time to see two people fired skyward in a human catapult disguising itself as a fairground ride. The fact that they had paid £25 between them for the privilege only caused me more bemusement.
We made our way to the spectacular gardens, which remained busy well into the evening, the majority of the activity coming from tourists and students. The crazy golf was still open at 7pm and though the Bournemouth Eye (a tethered balloon) was not, it still makes for an impressive sight. We looked for somewhere to eat on the streets directly north of the gardens and eventually decided on Pizza Hut as, though everywhere looked busy, it seemed the least full. This seemed to change once we were settled at our table as a group of eight loud teenagers were crammed in next to us; the meal was nice, though.
Finally, we walked off our dinner by strolling back through the gardens via the vibrant aviary and the majestic Russel Coates museum.
If you are heading to Dorset anytime soon, do not be afraid to stop in Bournemouth; there is plenty to keep everyone entertained and a lot of it is free.