Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bournemouth – 8 January 2011

It's easy to see why Bournemouth is such a popular summer destination, with its real golden sand and surf. It could be a New Zealand scene when looking out to sea, except for the very British pier and of course the continuous row of multi-coloured beach huts.

After a dreary wet week, the weekend promised to be fine and mild, so we booked a hotel near Bournemouth's beachfront. Despite winter chills, the surf had attracted dozens of wet suit clad surfers, to enjoy the waves. We were able to walk out along the pier and watch them ride the waves just a few metres away.

From the pier, we walked to the town centre through the 19th century Grade II Listed Pleasure Gardens. These were lovely, but would be more colourful in summer.

There were plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine on the coastal path, and some had even opened up their beach huts to enjoy refreshments while watching the world go by.

Thanks to Lonely Planet, we discovered a highlight in Bournemouth, the Russell Cotes Gallery. This stunning cliff side home of Sir Merton & Lady Russell-Cotes, is now a museum of their extensive art collection. Many of the paintings were from the pre-Raphalite era, including a very distinctive Rossettei. The house itself is as fascinating as the collection, and must have been a wonderful place to live and entertain.

We had enough time to enjoy a swim and soak in the inviting hotel spa pool, before heading back to town for a 3D viewing of the Narnia tale – Voyage of the Dawn Treader. By the time we returned to the Hotel Collingwood, we were ready to enjoy their well cooked four course dinner.

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