Saturday, 26 July 2008

Sightseeing in New Milton

Before I find something else to rant / whine about and, for the benefit of my friends, particularly the deprived folk stuck on "sub-tropical paradise islands," I've been doing some more sightseeing around New Milton with a camera, so that you too can enjoy some of its many and varied touristic delights.

image So far, I've only managed a round route to the main street and back, but it adds up to 2.8 miles (4.5 km), according to Google, which is pretty good going for me, though you can subtract a bit for a shortcut that Google refuses to accept, even walking.

It made me smile that Google says:

Walking directions are in beta.
Use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas.

I think they mean ones like this ...

Where you can find a few blackberries.

Then add a decent bit of distance for browsing up and down the high street and round the market. We'll call it 3 miles (4.8 km) for cash, shall we?

The scenery may lack something without them, but at least there are no hills / mountains to walk / climb up and down, apart from a very gentle bridge over the railway and that's enough, thank you. It takes me about 3 days to get over this hike, before I can hobble any further than the next room.

Yet it's all so sadly pedestrian and quintessentially English, that I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not actually Jane Austen's "Emma", showing Frank Churchill around the village - so many of the local shops here still resemble Fords, where you could imagine buying gloves and still paying in old English money, such as Guineas - and completing the circle to Randalls. :)

Hey, it's not without its moments. In an earlier post, I'd mentioned that this is "hover mower country." Well, I overheard a bloke talking on his mobile phone in Martin's Newsagents, describing the area (he was presumably a newcomer, or, perhaps, here on holiday) to whomever was on the other end, saying that all he'd heard here was the sound of electric lawnmowers and that he was surrounded by "old blokes constantly cutting their lawns." :) 

View Larger Map

image  So, walking from point A to B and, proceeding, not as they show, but cutting through here to Marley Avenue, then straight along Lake Grove Road.

At the crossroads, we find a quaint post box, of the type usually seen on Christmas cards. These suburban roads are full of bungalows typical of the area, with wisteria around the door and huge bushes of hydrangeas in the gardens.

image Then guess what we find at the end of Lake Grove Road? A lake (murky, brown, manmade), set in a grove, beside the road.

The bridges are cute, I'm sure the trees are real and it does make a pleasant green area, though they've overdone the urban furniture a bit. There's a veritable European Union mountain of park benches lined up around the lake, closely spaced with equal consistency to traffic cones along a motorway. On the other hand, where are the seats at places you really need them, like bus stops? Yes, conspicuously absent.

And the local residents are quackers. When they're not clogging up the school gates, mummies bring their small offspring here in their Chelsea tractors (there was a line of 'em parked in Lake Grove Road) to feed the ducks.

image From there, I turned right towards the high street (Points B to C and, which is really called Station Road, just to confuse people) and passed a typical older property of the area, before coming to one of the first businesses. Who fancies some cold meat and pickles? Actually, it's rare to still find a decent family butcher these days, but New Milton is fortunate to have this and another at the other end of the high street. Can't say I fancy venison myself though, what about you?

Now, I didn't actually go into the shop and I may be wrong, but my assumption is that the sign saying VENISON means that they sell venison, in addition to your usual meaty offerings. My mother, whose logic is generally suspect, but which may not be too far removed from "normal" in this area of "illogical wrinklies", is that she's never been there, because she doesn't fancy venison. Yup, she's convinced it can only mean that ALL they sell is venison. You really have to rethink your marketing strategies for this market.

image Onward to the weekly market where I saw these very blue hydrangeas with heads the size of footballs. Did you know that it's much easier to change a hydrangea from pink to blue than it is from blue to pink? No, nor did I. Did I want to know, is the real question, but it's best we don't go there, lest I should become obsessed with lawn mowing or something. :)

image Haven't seen our Greek pastry and Turkish sweet man on the market again and I keep going back in hope, but I did finally find The Kebab House.

This had become a bit of a joke really, because I read about it at the Knowhere guide, where it was being touted as possibly the best eatery in town.

We think it might be a bit debatable with a menu of reconstituted "mystery meat", burgers and chips, but it was niggling, because we couldn't place this emporium of fine dining. Mostly because we couldn't see for looking, but my excuse is because, on market day, it was "hiding" behind the stalls.

Their garlic infused food, it is claimed, repels the elderly like vampires. I've yet to try their fayre, but the garlic infused food I cook at home doesn't. ;-)


Now, we can begin our slow ramble back (Points C to D), with a short detour along the other busy thoroughfare of the Old Milton Road, with it's Tesco Express (a.k.a. the world's smallest Tesco), though they do have a hole in the wall machine I can use.

On the way, we pass New Milton Computers, where I finally found a mousepad in this unplugged town! They are Hobson's Choice for all your computing needs locally, but they seem friendly enough.

On the right here is the Chinese Chippy, who presumably do a roaring trade in soft foods, being next to the Denture Centre. The 4th most numerous type of business in the local area, I note, after estate agents, cafes and charity shops, seems to be the funeral parlors (no surprise, given the demographics.) There's one opposite and I'm aware of at least another two that I'd passed earlier on the walk. People must be dying to give them business! :)

At the corner of Gore Road is the public library, where, I'm reliably informed, they do have computers (should I ever have an emergency need) and could print off documents (for those of us who can't be arsed to buy a printer.)


The trudge home along Gore Road (with or without the excitement of 11 illegal immigrants recently), would be a bit boring, were it not for The Old Barn, where we can drop in for some liquid refreshment. (Becks, half £1.45.)

image The info at the Knowhere guide says, "The original barn building (Grade II listed - built in 1833) formed part of the old Gore Farm estate. Over the past 18 months it has been beautifully restored into a Pub, with Restaurant on two floors, Walled Courtyard garden and Hotel accommodation. The staff are young and friendly, the beer and wines excellent, and the food is great too."

image Not sure when that review was written, nor to which 18 months they refer when it was refurbished, but it's obviously not that long ago and everything else they say appears to be true. The young man I spoke to was very approachable and helpful.

They also have live muzak on Fridays, with a couple of interesting sounding acts coming up on August 1st and 8th. It's just getting down there at night. Do you think they might lend me this and a horse! :)

More images from around and about New Milton ...

No comments: