A welcome return was made to this award winning site in beautiful Dorset. Rally Marshals Maurice and Julie were there to greet us with our information pack which included a list of attendees, a quiz, campsite information and rally programme. We were pleased to see on the attendee list three couples on their first rally including David and June in S55 Voy which made us both happy to know that the van was still with the Club having spent many a happy evening in it when owned by Judith and David.
First on the programme list was the welcome afternoon tea and homemade cake get together in the games room our first chance to introduce ourselves to our new members and catch up with some “old” ones! Tuesday was a beautiful day so as we had our Ka with us we decided to make a visit to Brownsea Island a place we had planned to visit for some time. We invited Janet and John to come with us. We caught the ferry from Sandbanks the short but scenic trip to the Island now run and managed by the National Trust. We all decided that we would do the longest walk all around the Island (there a few routes to choose from) giving us we hoped the best chance to spot red squirrels. It took us about 4 hours with plenty of stops for photos reading the information boards (including the place where Baden Powell set up his first campsite for his newly formed Scout Association) and sits on benches to enjoy the scenic views across Poole Harbour. We were just at the end of our walk and giving up hope of spotting a squirrel when there by our path was one busily uncovering his hidden winter store of nuts, what a treat as he was almost within touching distance.
As we were now back at the visitor centre we decided to have a light lunch in their cafe before continuing our walk there we met Peter and Rita who had made the trip from Poole harbour to the Island and had done a tour of the Island by Buggy. After a short walk to the bird hides overlooking the marshes, where we spotted Avocets, Sandwich Terns, Black Tailed Godwits, curlews, redshanks and many more waders, it was time to catch the little ferry back to Sandbanks and return to camp.
On Wednesday Maurice and Julie had organised a lunch at the nearby St Peter’s Finger Pub, for those that would like to take advantage of the voucher enclosed with our rally details of a free bottle of wine when ordering two main courses. We had taken up this offer on a previous visit and most people on the rally took up the offer. We however, decided to stick to our plan of a visit to RSPB Arne as we had been recommended to do the guided walk and this only takes place on Wednesdays. Well worth a visit if you are interested in birds and one of the best places in the UK to see Dartford Warblers. It is set in a stunning location overlooking estuary marshes with a mixture of deciduous trees , conifers and heathland offering a wide diversity of wildlife. We spent the whole day there first on the guided walk then on our own, just missed spotting a spoonbill though! We were told on returning to camp that the lunch had been excellent.
Thursday our final day at Lytchett dawned dull and wet so we made the decision to take advantage of our National Trust membership to visit Clouds Hill and Kingston Lacy. Janet came along with us John stayed in the van to read his book and tackle the Quiz which was to be handed in at the Supper Evening in Dylans Restaurant at the Craft Centre behind the Campsite.
Clouds Hill is a tiny Woodsman’s cottage owned by T.E. Lawrence after he had abandoned the ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ persona and joined the army at Bovington Camp. He used the cottage as a simple retreat it has no electricity and much of the furniture and fittings were designed by him. There he could write and entertain friends . After leaving the Royal Air force in May 1935 he suffered fatal head injuries whilst riding his Brough Superior motorcycle. The Cottage was bequeathed to the N.T. by Lawrence’s brother the following year. Little has been changed or altered since the death of Lawrence giving an insight into the complex personality of the writer, warrior and friend of Thomas Hardy.
Following on from Clouds we made the short drive to Kingston Lacy a lavish family home built to resemble an Italian Palace home to the wealthy Banks family for over 300 years after the family lost their Corfe Castle stronghold during the Civil War. Famous for its internationally acclaimed art collection, sculptures and wood carvings, marble staircases, there is so much to see and admire. Outside there are sweeping lawns, Formal Garden, Japanese Garden, Kitchen Garden and woodland and parkland walks.
Returning to camp it was soon time to meet up with everyone for the evening supper in Dylans Restaurant. We all enjoyed a very hearty meal almost too much for some of us! At the start of the evening Maurice had handed another Quiz sheet to complete during our meal, we managed a miserable 12 out of 30, this resulted in a tie between Kath and John and Rita and Anne, who had teamed up against their husbands Peter and Alan, with Kath and John winning the tiebreak question. We then had the results of our Van Quiz which was 20 questions on ingredients for baking a cake and 20 questions on names of cakes, this was won by Janet and John. It was then time for our Chairman Trevor to thank, on behalf of all the attendees, Maurice and Julie for an excellent Rally.