Monday, 2 April 2012

Biking in the Meon Valley

Yesterday saw us getting out into the countryside for the first outing on the motorbike before the sunshine leaves us for the rest of our lovely English Spring - yes - snow forecast for tomorrow!

What I really love is riding pillion on the BMW - as long as I'm wrapped up well with no gaps where the wind can get to me.  There's nothing like being on the back of a bike, relaxing as we wound our way through Hampshire.  The sun was still out, although there was a definite chill in the air as we headed up the Meon Valley.  What a beautiful valley it is - passing through Droxford - remembering times when we used to collect children from the village school - the summer fetes with children and grandma - all a few years ago now.  Then moving up along the ridge where you can see the river Meon meandering through the valley on the right, more memories of walking across the hills and ending up at the White Lion in Soberton for lunch.

Further up the valley we reached the lovely village of Meonstoke.  From the road you see the ancient Saxon church with the grounds bright with daffodils - the river running through - too chilly yet for picnickers though.  Just past Meonstoke we turned off into Exton with memories of sitting in the pub garden there many years ago, feeding the ducks and watching the river as we ate our ploughman's lunch and supped a welcome beer.

But we had more miles to ride before lunch this day.  We rode past the village church and I whispered a greeting to my dear old friend Annie who is buried in the churchyard there, passed her old house and on up onto the top of the hill again.  We briefly stopped at the top and looked across to the horizon, wondering what we could see in the distance.  I looked about and spotted the Isle-of-Wight in the distance.  From this we worked out that Southampton was probably ahead of us, the Solent to the left and Winchester somewhere to the right.  We chose to go right and travelled on through the beauty of the countryside - finally arriving at our destination - The Hampshire Bowman public house.

This pub still has a field at the side where they set up archery targets and the local archery club have regular sessions, so I hear.  The pub is a favourite for many people - definitely a 'destination pub' being situated right out in the country with only a handful of neighbours within walking distance.  They do have campers in the field at times though, and cater for all sorts of customers.  The place was packed full of bikers, some like us, just out for a ride on their own, others in groups.  It's a great place for people (and bike) watching.  But the pub also caters for families - children of all ages, walkers with dogs - there were many dogs in the pub garden.  The pub provides water bowls and even a shovel with a notice to dog owners to clean up after their pets!  The garden is large enough for all and although there were a lot of customers the pub was not crowded.  We were served immediately we arrived and our lovely roast chicken lunch was on the table within about twenty minutes.  And it was delicious!

The afternoon took us to Shedfield to watch our daughter compete in a dressage competition.  I always find it amazing whenever I watch her riding - she has so much discipline - her concentration is awesome and she looks great on the horse.  And when she came first and then fifth in the two different classes she entered, we were very proud of her.

Back home in Southwick - I'm not looking forward to the weather turning colder tomorrow - today I plan to make the most of spending time with our other lovely daughter and catching up with the costume department at Titchfield Festival Theatre.

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