Tuesday, 2 April 2013


Right, this is going to be a bit of National Trust fest of blogging tonight, because it’s been a bank holiday weekend so naturally we’ve been caning it with our membership card (please believe me that sentence is meant to be read with irony). 
So first up, Foxbury, which is only up the road from us in the North of the New Forest, and I wasn’t even aware of as a National Trust property.  But during one particularly geeky evening of studying the website I noticed that it was a new acquisition where a major resculpting of the landscape was taking place, and I think was opening for the first time this weekend for a sneak preview.  Also there was an Easter egg hunt on. (The National Trust have seriously cottoned onto the fact that children need to multi-task their way around days out, & clearly the 15 or so easter eggs my children have already acquired hasn’t been nearly enough, so this provided a great incentive).

As it turned out, a bit of an incentive was needed as it was brass monkeys out there, so we went fully layered-up.  Which was just as well as the heathland at Foxbury is pretty exposed – hence I guess the rather impressive panoramic views.  Harry seems to be going through some kind of past life regression into a spaniel, and is in his element in the great outdoors at the moment, bounding off enthusiastically.  Which makes a nice counter to Katie, who is at that awkward in-between stage where she really doesn’t want to be in a pushchair, but nor does she want to do any amount of aimless walking, which inevitably ends up with a lot of plaintive arms up wanting to be carried, and endless rounds of indecision, interspersed with whinging around this theme.  But I digress ...

So, the whole walk is probably about an hour or so at a gentle pace, the easter egg clues were unchallenging, which is exactly what you need in Arctic temperatures.  And fantastically enough, about half-way through the walk a bit of tarpaulin had been set up with campfires and a very welcome refreshments van.  So it was teas and hot chocolates ahoy while the very wonderful volunteers talked the children through various nature finds, including a snake skin, owl wings and various skulls (all ideally pitched for small boys).  Then you could toast marshmallows and learn how to start fires, which as we all know is an utterly hypnotic phenomena for small children.  So much so that we got stuck in the fire mode for a while & missed the start of the falconry display a bit further on, where small children were being extremely hardcore about having birds of prey landing on them. 

Luckily a couple of portaloos were set up along the way, as there are no buildings otherwise along this way, and Charlotte looked rather traumatised upon emerging, which prompted an anecdote about the equally rudimentary facilities at a One Direction concert - the subject of a-show-and-tell from one of her classmates (say no more).  But it did make me rather glad that we haven’t got anywhere with potty training as I’m fairly certain this would have been something of a sticking point with the Katester. 

Then it was Easter eggs all around, and by the end of it we weren't even noticing the cold.   I was glad we’d taken a chance and given it a go despite the weather, and the children loved it and haven’t stopped raving about their newfound fire prowess.  It really was brilliantly thought-out to appeal to the mindset of small people.  The landscape itself, as I said, is fairly bleak because of what they’re trying to do with it (replanting), but it’s also dramatic and we’ll definitely be back to see how it’s changing – the rangers told us that they’ll open it up for a few days on and off throughout the year so as not to disturb the habitat too much.  Perhaps next time we’ll bring bikes.  I should think it will look particularly great in late summer with rolling hills of heather. And heather in the Forest always makes me go a bit gooey because it was like that on the day we got married.


  1. What an excellent blog post. I'm so glad all of the effort going into Foxbury is generating this kind of useful content already.

    Thank you for posting.

    Paul Cook
    General Manager
    National Trust, Mottisfont & New Forest

  2. Thanks for your feedback. Your team are doing a wonderful job there.