This weekend Belle and I are enjoying a little rural retreat, on the fringes of the New Forest, in a lodge at Sandy Balls.
Go on, have a snigger, get it out of your system.
We arrived last night after a long and rather trying journey. Who’d have thought it was possible to create such a long song with just the word ‘potato’? Belle really does have an extraordinary talent for improvised song.
To describe our lodge as being made of wood doesn’t really do it justice. Seriously, it is Made Of Wood. Everywhere. Floors, walls, ceilings. There is a LOT of wood. Add to this the fact that I accidentally left the heating on all night and this morning felt like waking up in an actual sauna.
It was worth all the sweating and vegetable ditties though, as we woke up to beautiful blue skies and the sound of birds singing in the trees outside our windows. “I love our lodge,” says Belle, at regular ten minute intervals.
The activities of the day began in earnest when we discovered there was an adventure playground backing onto our lodge. Whilst Belle perfected the art of zip wire, I had a very hectic time back at base camp, getting dressed and drinking a nice cup of tea out on our deck.
We then headed off to Moors Valley Country Park, where we were set to enjoy a morning of mountain biking.
Having sustained a serious sporting injury already this week, you might think it crazy of me to even consider hiring bikes, but hell, that’s just the kind of daredevil gal I am. I reply to a text from a friend, telling her we’re cycling in the woods. “OMG!” she replies. “What happened to the gin swilling slummy friend I know?”
Scoff she might, but I actually really enjoyed it. Thanks to my burgeoning netball career, I appear to have developed at least some level of fitness, and Moors Valley really is beautiful. Belle particularly enjoyed the play trail, which had different bits if play equipment situated at intervals. An ingenius way to get kids to enjoy going on ‘a walk’.
Back at Sandy Balls, sitting outside on the deck in the afternoon, my mind wandered back to the park’s name. Given the nearest beach is some distance away, and despite twitter trying to convince me that it comes from the park’s owner, I suspect there is another explanation. My journalistic spidey senses stirred, I set off to investigate.
Twenty minutes and a very pleasant stroll through the woods later, I come to one of two of what my map says are ‘Sandy Balls’.
I’m not sure I’d call it a ‘ball’ though. ‘Sandy Lumps’ probably doesn’t have much commercial appeal. ‘Sandy Hillocks’ maybe? Maybe not.