Today’s meetings ended early at Southampton Hospital: the clinical team has the protocol complete, contract draft and Ethics Board / MHRA notification are underway, and the working group is meshing well. There’s a choice of routes back south, zip down the motorway or meander through the New Forest.
No contest: I aim for the scenic route.
The New Forest, actually established before the United States was founded (1698), is a big wedge of moors, heathland, and ancient Oak/Redwood groves between Southampton and the Channel Coast. Its a walking wilderness dotted with water and villages, filled with birds and animals. It’s flatter and bleaker than the Lake District up north, cold and windswept on an October afternoon beneath a heavy grey sky and yellow sunset light. But it has a real presence, deep quiet in vast open spaces carpeted with heath and heather.
I need to get more time to do some walking further back in, ‘checking with local friends for some recommendations.
Beaulieu (Beugh-Lee) is a centraly located village, best known for is motoring museum and sheep’s milk ice cream. A couple of (kind of) wild donkeys were wandering the riverbanks (the more famous short ponies were dotted around the moors).
The village is picturesque but somewhat touristy: the ice cream and chocolates are worth a stop, but otherwise it’s better to be taking walks in the natural areas than along the village streets.
It should be magnificent when the leaves really turn in another week.