2019 was our first experience of having to take holidays in the actual school holidays and what a shock to the system that was! We resorted to an Excel spreadsheet to plan childcare cover over the holidays and could have done with a double Whisky looking at the price difference from our usual two weeks away in June, to now being restricted to only July or August school dates. With the cost of the house renovation still stinging us and no dosh left for a fancy overseas break we opted to holiday in the UK last Summer as we felt the price jump from June to July / August was astronomical and didn’t make sense to spend on a holiday when we’d rather put the money in the short term in to the house.
I’d vague memories of spending time in Bournemouth when I was little, my Mum always reminding me how I used to crawl along the beach and eat the sand! Yum. At the start of August last year we had a number of renovation jobs that we needed to crack on with, therefore to give Christian a chance to focus on DIY I booked a week in Bournemouth with my Mum and Dad. Christian stayed at home just joining us for one night, not ideal but it gave him some chance to really focus on sanding floors and painting without the kids being home.
In planning where to visit I found instagram was hugely helpful with people sharing tons of recommendations of places to go and things to do, I’ve noted the full list of suggestions at the bottom of this post as we didn’t have time to do everything. We stayed in a two bedroom flat located in Durley Chine, I won’t list it here as I think you’ll probably find a wider selection on Air B&B.
My personal favourite thing to do during the time away was running along Bournemouth beach before it got busy. I’d head out each morning before breakfast at around 7:30am and run from Durley Chine towards Alune Chine. When Christian arrived he also joined me and we enjoyed the fresh air, watching the waves crashing along the beach. I checked distances and Bournemouth pier to Boscombe pier and back is 5kms, Boscombe to Branksome Dene Chine is 7kms. I think if I lived around here this would be something I’d aim to do as a personal fitness running goal.
A short distance from where we were staying was Alune Chine Park. The park was inspired by treasure island, Robert Louis Stevenson lived at Skerry which is at the tip of Alune Chine. The park was great with a wooden boat, slides and swings set in a lovely area and with a cafe close by. It’s next to to the beach and is also accessible from the land train which goes from Bournemouth town centre. Alune Chine is the largest of the four chines in Bournemouth, it was never that busy whilst we visited.
We enjoyed a brilliant day at Farmer Palmers Farm Park, its located just outside Poole and I would highly recommend this for a fun family day. It was clean with so much for the children to do. We went on a woodland walk where we spotted dragonflys, wooden forest carvings and stopped to enjoy the gentle running stream. There were shetland ponies, sheep shearing demonstrations, a large Maize Maze, hay filled playbarn, a Go-kart race track, mini tractor play area, bouncy castles, soft play and a straw filled barn packed with slides. So many things to do and being fortunate to visit on a day when it was really sunny it wasn’t over run with visitors.
Branksome Chine was our favourite beach, the sand was so clean and with a beach cafe and great facilities plus parking we loved visiting here. There are over 7 miles of sandy beaches here and we just embraced being outdoors.
For shopping I popped to Castlepoint for an emergency swimsuit purchase in the large M&S. There was also an Asda, Sainsbury’s, River Island, New Look and many more major retailers plus lots of free parking.
Lollipop cafe was a small softplay on Landseer Road, Westbourne, just 3 mins from where we were staying in Durley Chine. Unlike many noisy, grimy softplay centres this one was light, felt calm and was really clean. It’s housed in an old church and has a small outdoor seating area as well as a space for small babies to stretch and crawl. It was great for a morning when we wanted to stay local and do something low key.
The high street in Westbourne was great with some boutique style shops, a Pizza Express, JoJo Maman Bebe, M & S and many independent cafes. We met up with my friend Charlotte at the Circo Lounge for brunch . There are a couple of car parks right behind the main high street in Westbourne, all pay & display. The parking machines take contactless payments which was handy.
On one overcast day when we wanted to get out of the house for an hour we visited a free park in Bournemouth’s upper gardens, this is right in the centre of Bournemouth. It had a zip wire, climbing equipment, balance bars and swings. I parked at the Avenue car park which was just next to the park. You could walk from this park down towards the beach, crossing over small bridges across the stream. The gardens lead to a pond and rockery area, before reaching the main beach.
Christian and I went for drinks and food one evening in Aruba, a beachfront bar located right on the Pier in central Bournemouth. The service was pretty poor with the waiter acting like he was doing me a favour serving me but the location was good for beach / people watching and it was a short walk home afterwards.
For brunch one day we hopped in the car and took a short drive to Urban reef, its an informal cafe / restaurant on the seafront. With breakfast served until 11am we sampled the ‘surfs up’ full English. They had a huge selection including pancakes and breakfast muffins and I’d definitely recommend it. With seating inside and out it was really popular, particularly with the bonus of its sea views.
On our penultimate morning we caught the little beach train. This went from a stop just a short distance from Urban reef through Boscombe high street, the gardens and then back along the beach. The kids enjoyed it and its a sweet way to see the local area.
Another day out was a trip to Brownsea Island. We parked in Poole and caught the ferry across, you can also catch a ferry from Sandbanks. The ferry leaves every hour and were packed full as its a popular place to visit. The ferry is free to children under 6 and adults were £12 each. The island is where Lord Baden-Powell held his first scout camp and its owned by the National Trust. Hop off the ferry as soon as you arrive and you’ll find lots of useful information in the visitor centre. There is a wetland, lily pond, cafe, natural play area, picnic area, church and castle. There are also two holiday cottages on the island which I thought would be lovely to stay in and enjoy the island once guests have left on the ferry. Despite the sunshine its very blustery on the ferry (the kids wanted to sit on the top deck) so do take a cardi / coat.
We had plenty of other places that we could have visited thanks to suggestions from the instagram community including: