Going from bees and bites to chocolate and croquet

The last time I visited the quintessentially English village of Beaulieu in the New Forest, I was a pimple-faced 11-year-old on a school trip.

Tuesday, 13th September 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 3:53 pm
Playing Pokemon Go

I remember it well, but for all the wrong reasons.

It was my first and last experience of camping.

It was also the long, hot summer of 1976 and in the searing heat we were plagued by a swarm of bees and also bitten by midges.

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But that wasn’t all.

In the middle of the night a huge thunderstorm erupted, the heavens opened and we ended up having to shelter in a disused barn.

Roll on 40 years and my return to this lovely part of the forest was a bit more luxurious.

My bed for the night was at the Montagu Arms hotel in a beautiful rose chintz room oozing charm.

It also overlooked one of the loveliest gardens I have ever seen.

The Montagu is named after the late Lord Montagu, but has had three name changes in its 200-year history.

I had a lovely chat with Mala, who has the idyllic job of arranging flowers from the garden for the rooms.

I also talked to Jim the gardener, who seemed suitably impressed that I was able to name several different species of flora.

It was especially nice to come across a Queen Elizabeth rose that I remembered being in my grandmother’s garden.

A game of croquet on the lawn with a fellow guest was a must and, as I picked up the mallet, I imagined I was Alice and holding a flamingo’s head.

‘Off with her head’ I giggled to my new friend as I hammered the ball, sending it straight through a newly-dug flowerbed and half-expecting to disappear down a rabbit hole for my crime.

After all that fun, my tummy was rumbling so a meal of award-winning Michelin star cuisine from head chef Matthew Tomkinson was the ideal answer.

If you ever go there, I highly recommend the dark chocolate cremeaux, which did a pirouette on my tastebuds.

If there really was death by chocolate, then this mouthwatering dish would send you to heaven!


At last, a game that has got kids and adults alike off the sofa and outside doing some exercise.

Pokemon Go has quickly captured the imagination of millions.

So I decided that if you can’t beat ’em you should join ’em.

That’s how I found myself in the park running around like a demented zombie trying to nab these creatures.

I was on top of a hill, about to get a Slowpoke (a rarity, according to my girlfriends!), when an excited Mrs Fumblefingers managed to drop her phone.

I then tripped over my shoelace and shot head-first down the grassy embankment, inches away from a big pile of dog poo.

After that experience, I can safely say that Pokemon can most definitely Go...


Kudos to St George’s Beneficial C of E Primary School in Portsmouth for its imaginative playground with rope swings, cargo nets, a cute rustic wigwam and a rather impressive stone dragon.

I must admit I felt a pang of envy. How lucky are pupils that attend this school? Playtime must be tremendous fun.

In my day we didn’t have anything like that. Recess was spent perfecting our handstands against the headmaster’s office, French skipping and playing kiss chase with the boys.

This usually ended with the object of my desire locking themselves in the toilets to escape. Rarely did I get a snog.

Come to think of it, nothing much has changed. I’m still chasing boys and haven’t snared one yet!