two go down to the New Forest ...
... travelling back in time into another world. Strange, but that's exactly how it feels. Things are so different here, and yet the forest is only a short car journey away from us in West Sussex.
Now if horses were loose on our local B roads, the police would have the road cordoned off with diversions in place!
We stayed at the Forest Park Hotel in Brockenhurst, and we got a room upgrade 'cos we didn't want to be over the bar. It's a comfortable hotel with no fancy trimmings ... you get what you pay for.
The room was lovely and bright facing south, and very floral, but although clean the bathroom was in need of an update. Can't complain, 'cos we got a good deal in three nights for the price of two, £68 pounds for the room per night which included a good choice of breakfast.
Our bikes came with us, note my new white Specialized one. I'm definitely liking it, as it helps me keep up the pace with John on his Gary Fisher! We were relatively lucky with the weather, and only got rained on the once.
I couldn't resist taking a photo of this very puffed-out Robin on one of our rides. I felt a right clown though 'cos I was talking to it in a silly voice, not aware of a chap sitting in his van with his driver-side window down!
To be honest I expected to see more wildlife down here, and apart from the usual suspect birds, saw just one squirrel and a deer, which was unfortunately roadkill along the side of a verge.
One thing you're in no danger of missing in the New Forest is trees. The first photo is of a giant sequoia, one of the largest specimens in Great Britain. It's situated in Rhinefield Ornamental Drive and is part of the Tall Trees Trail, which is a pleasant walk for adults and kids alike.
Can you see what I see in this trunk of another old tree?
Brockenhurst is a great place to stay if you want to be at the starting point of many cycle routes. The whole of the National Park is well kitted out for keen cyclists, and being out of school holidays we practically had it all to ourselves.
I really wasn't expecting to see these cows stopping traffic on the road into Burley. They were hilarious, and in no hurry to budge!
We stopped here for a much needed drink, and waited a good half an hour for our coffee. Such a leisurely pace of life, and a stark reminder of just how manic our everyday lives can sometimes be.
Of course there are many beautiful New Forest ponies to be seen roaming around too. They don't need a wide berth, but not a good idea to pet or feed them, and keep to a 40-mph limit on all unfenced roads.
Remember, it's their forest so look after them!