Travel & Life Digest

Weekend in Dorset - Christchurch

How often do you have a weekend break that makes you feel far far away from reality? 
Well, we've just had one of those, just one night away from home and we came back completely...well... happy! 
Believe me, I don't utter this word that often any more, it's normally "stressed", "tense", "busy" or a hopeful "fine"!

I've had my eye on Christchurch for a while. It's lodged right where rivers Stour and Avon meet. The result is a cute little town where waterways pop up around every corner and people sit on benches by the river watching the herds of fish go by!
The Quay is broad enough to make you think you are out in the open sea. Not that the sea is far away, five minutes drive (or boat ride) down the road (or the river) and you'll find yourself in the trending Mudeford Sandbanks! More on that on my next post though.

We stayed at the King's Arms hotel, one of the two boutique hotels in town. The other one, the Captain's Club, is up the river and looks more modern. We were in the mood for easy-going, country charm so we opted for the King's Arms. Just bear in mind that this is a listed building and the loft rooms get quite warm in a sunny summer day. I'm sure that come autumn or spring they'd be perfect to escape the chilly air. The restaurant here is quite popular with the locals too!

There is no direct outdoor space, but across the road, the old bowling green - complete with a whitewashed clubhouse that usually accommodates wedding parties - belongs to the hotel and you can catch the sun there; 
even better grab a book and go sit in the old Norman house ruins, which are also part of the hotel's outdoor space, next to the river, to escape the world. No fees to pay, no guards to stop you.

The hotel is very conveniently located in the centre of the town and you can forget about your car once you arrive here:
Take the green pathway across the road, past the old Norman house ruins, go under the ivy tunnel frequented by newlyweds and loved up couples,  look up at the sun hiding behind the impressive structure of the Priory and discover river Avon running down to the harbour.
It's  all very tranquil and takes you right down to the old Mill, by the quay-side.

In the mid-afternoon the bandstand by the Quay accommodated live band performances and the whole town had camped around it, on the grass, chilling out in the sun.
It was a free event and the whole town was mingling in a very relaxed atmosphere.
We just couldn't stay away from the sea though, so we drove down to Mudeford Quay and caught the ferry to the Sandbanks...oh boy, heaven!

Back in Christchurch you will find the Boathouse, a nice restaurant where you can have your evening meal overlooking Christchurch Quay. We couldn't get a table there unfortunately, as I refused to book in advance, this was our rebelling chilled out weekend! 

So, off we went to the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, in Mudeford for dinner. It was a bit more formal than what I would have liked, but the food was splendid. I had a lovely, light dish: sole wrapped around salmon mousse with the most velvety potato puree ever!  After dinner we walked down to the river to catch the moon dancing on the still waters. Mesmerising! 

Sunday morning was bathed in sun light! Around 6 o'clock, I could see the top of the Priory from our bedroom window, lit up by pink and orangey sunshine. 
Big breath, this is going to be a good Sunday. 

After breakfast we went for a stroll in the bowling green across the hotel and took a bit of time to examine the Norman house ruins.
Doves and pigeons were nesting in every single wall cavity, if you took the time to observe quietly.
The river run right on the side of the outer walls and a private quay would have accommodated boats loaded with wool and supplies from the north. Don't forget river Avon runs through Shakespearean Stratford country!

We loved Christchurch and we would have stayed longer but! 
Lunch reservation at the Pig-on-the-beach awaited! I cannot tell you how excited we both were to discover the new Piggy venture! Oh no wait, I've already told you! x

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