I have had a very eventful time in Bournemouth so far. After securing my belonging at my new house in the city I really hoped to find something to keep me occupied and my mind off worrying whether I had made the right choice of leaving all my stuff in an old abandoned house. I made my way to the New Leaf Allotments in Throope, approx four miles from the city centre. When I arrived at the site I was greeted by Chris, the person who manages the project. The entrance to the site was completely submerged due to the prolonged rainfall of the day before. This was going to be a good test for my new waterproof boots. As I manoeuvred my way around the slippery mud banks and along the temporary wooden planks, placed in the muddy puddles, I got my first look at the full scale of the site.
Thirty plus young students of Bournemouth and Poole college were volunteering on the site that day and it looks like they were all having a blast. I was lead down to the back of the 1.2arce site pass a group of volunteers shifting and spreading compost over a newly dug raised bed, where another small group were attempting to erect a large polytunnel.
The site was great, sitting in the centre of two LARGE cabbage and cauliflower fields, the first 60 metres or so was covered in raised beds of various sizes and heights, some completed and others under construction. Further down were the polytunnels and behind those was the apple orchard. The trees in this orchard were at least 100 years old and produced a stunning canopy of zigzagged leafless branches. On ground level were two vacant box bee hives which I thought were very interesting. There was so much activity going on the site that I hardly had time to talk with the man responsible for the maintenance of the site. As the sunlight slowly dimmed and the polytunnle frame began to take shape the call for everyone to gather outside the metal shipping container at the top of the site was made and everyone made their way back onto the buses which would take them all back to the hustle and bustle of the city. I had such a good time at The New Leaf Allotments that I made a promise to visit again during the coming week. That night I was extremely grateful to have a proper roof over my head and as I made up my sleeping space in the basement of my new home I couldn’t help but smile as I thought back to the night before in the New Forest.
The next day the sun was out in full force and I quickly made my way down to the beach and sat on the cliffs and watched the sun slowly make its’ way across the clear blue sky only partially obstructed by a few faint streaks of white fluff which were soon blown away by the cool costal breeze. On the beach there was no protection from the wind and sitting on the sand you get the full feel of the salty air making its’ way off the surface of the water and into the town centre. I did a fair bit of reading on the beach that morning and then walked along from the East Cliffs to the West Cliffs, visiting the Bournemouth pier on route. This was where I saw a baby seal the first time I was down in Dorset. No seal this time round but the walk was very much appreciated. As the day went on I headed away from the coast and into the heart of the city centre. The madness of Christmas shoppers was all a bit too much for me so I cowardly hurried back to the calmness of my squat. Back at the squat I decided to have a better look around while there was still a bit of sunlight left. From the basement I climbed the stairs to the ground floor, gracefully avoiding bits of old furniture, doors and empty gas canisters. Though it was bright and sunny outdoors there was hardly any light penetrating the thick wood sheets covering the doors and windows of the house. Passing a large kitchen, a huge living room and a small bathroom I continued up the stairs to the first floor. As I approached the top of the stairs a small beam of light illuminated the glossy wallpaper and the whole mood of the house changed.
All the windows on the top floor were left uncovered and this allowed the full light of the sun to fill the entire floor. This was the cleaner of the three levels. There was a good size bathroom, a large kitchen, a small bedroom with a bunk bed and a good sized living room. As I looked around the rooms I found a small dust pan and brunch and began clearing and clearing up the living space. After an hour or so of sweeping carpets, beating couches and carefully disposing of the numerous syringes that were lying around the room was fit for a king....well almost. It was dark now and I gathered all my necessities (sleeping bag, ground mat, water bottles, etc) from the basement floor and moved into the top floor which I called the pent house. As the temperature dropped I climbed into my sleeping bag laid on the superbly comfortable couch and had the best sleep ever.
I woke up on Sunday morning just before sunrise and headed directly to the East Cliffs. It was a slightly obstructed sunrise as the sun struggled to escape from behind the pink-purple clouds. The view of Poole Bay reflecting the sun rays was a sight to behold and was worth all the hardship I had endured on the way the Bournemouth. After enjoying the sunrise I headed in the direction of Boscombe and came across the Boscombe Chine Gardens, a lovely little wild garden of pine trees, and a small wetland patch. As I walked through the gardens, bright green woodpeckers hammered away at the soft wood of the irregularly shaped pine trees. The ponds were the special part of the gardens for me and were supposedly fed by a natural underground spring. I spent a long time in the Chine Gardens and then moved on to the town of Boscombe which was a lot smaller than Bournemouth but had a lot more character in my opinion. As Darkness fell once again I jumped on one of the many yellow buses which serve Bournemouth, Christchurch, Boscombe, and Poole and headed for home wondering what the week ahead had in store for me.