Mummy Diaries | New Year in the New Forest

It still feels strange saying ‘Happy New Year’ and writing 2020, but here we are. New Year’s celebrations are usually a non-event for me. Growing up, we sometimes went to my dad’s friends in Leigh-on-Sea who hosted parties. Otherwise, it was just the four of us at home, no doubt with a takeaway and board game. One time dad even tried to organise a murder mystery night but I think we probably mocked it. Since Ash and I have been together, we’ve always spent New Year’s together: at friends, at mum’s, at home... and this year we went away!

We had accumulated enough points on our Tesco Clubcard to convert them into cash and then used that to pay for our accommodation on hotels.com. Unfortunately, it meant I couldn’t cash the stay in for a free night on their loyalty scheme. But after we used our points, I think we paid £30-something for our overnight stay in a family room. More on that later...

We drove down to the New Forest mid-morning on New Year’s Eve, stopping off en route for a car packed lunch I had prepared. We planned on finding somewhere to go for a walk nearby, before driving the final stretch to the hotel. Ash came across Moors Valley – and what a little gem! On a normal day, there would be so much to do!
We decided to follow the play trail, which was great, as it had wooden playing equipment at every interval – enough to keep Alfie entertained between walking (and being carried, of course!). He loved it. In fact, once he was playing, he didn’t want to leave. His favourites were the wooden ant hill and the giant snake you could climb inside or walk on top... it was all too claustrophobic for me. But I liked the area with giant xylophones and glockenspiels. At each point, we had to bribe Alfie with gingerbread biscuits and the promise that the next stop would be even more fun than the last.

We also embarked on the tree top trail, where we climbed up across a walkway and it was like being in the sky. It gave us beautiful aerial views of the forest, but unfortunately we didn’t see any wildlife. I’m sure I heard several species of bird though.

You could easily spend a whole day there – there’s a small railway, with authentic steam train, but it closed at 4pm; a visitors’ centre with cafe and shop, which also shut early; and so many walks and trails and things to do and see. We’ve already said we would return to the area and it’s more than likely that we would go back to Moors Valley, especially when Alfie is older, can appreciate it more and run about to his heart’s content.

We stayed at the Bridge House Hotel and being New Year, I was apprehensive about staying somewhere. I had this feeling it would be really busy, there would be garish entertainment and too much noise. But it was the complete opposite and perfect for a family like us. Our room was really spacious and we were given a king-size bed and a single for Alfie. We spent a lot of the evening in there, just watching TV and relaxing. But the hotel also had a restaurant, bar and library – a really lovely lounge area with super comfy sofas, TV, books and games. We did try playing Battleships, but Alfie wouldn’t let us – hence why we admitted defeat and retired to the room.
We had dinner in the hotel that night and Ash persuaded me to have the carvery. There was an a la carte menu and specials and I quite quickly regretted not ordering the sea bass special and realised there’s a reason why I dislike carverys so much. They’re just not me. The following morning, breakfast wasn’t included, but we added it on (unlimited for £7.99, or £3.99 for children). This was much better than dinner and there was everything from cereal, fruit and yogurt, to toast, pastries and cooked options. I left feeling suitably full and ready to take on another walk.
The world and his wife had the same idea as us and we struggled to park at Blackwater Woods in Brockenhurst. We had planned on one particular walk, but had to go for plan b once we’d found somewhere else to leave the car. This walk was one-and-a-half miles and was called the tall trees trail. Here, we were able to spot the tallest tree, the oldest tree, the heaviest tree and the toughest tree, amongst others. Alfie enjoyed jumping in muddy puddles (he was wearing his new wellington boots – as was I!); picking up pine cones and sticks; or holding hands and saying ‘ready, steady, go’ before running as fast as he could. We were going to continue on through the arboretum, but Alfie was starting to get bored and wanted to be constantly carried and there was a fine rain in the air – so instead we went to the car and found a pub for lunch.

There were several of establishments in Brockenhurst, but being New Year’s Day, they weren’t all open. Ash found a place called The Foresters Arms on Google and we decided on there. It was a lovely village pub. We sat in the bar area, where there was a pool table and plasma screens. While I grabbed a menu and a round of drinks, Ash and Alfie watched the Chelsea game that was being shown. We shared a couple of baguettes and chips, choosing fillings that Alfie would eat. Of course, he ate most of the chips instead. He ate some baguette, but ended up leaving the filling – which was fine with me as I’d ordered one of my favourites, coronation chicken (vastly underrated!). Ash had chosen tuna mayo and we ended up going halves. I also had a double rhubarb gin – Happy New Year and all that!

As we left, we drove through part of the forest, where horses roamed freely and grazed on the grass verge. It was so beautiful to see. What a lovely ending to a lovely overnight stay.

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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