100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 63 – Festival Coast Live

Festival Coast Live consists of a range of predominantly free events across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. Activities take place throughout the year, bur focus on the summer, starting at the beginning of the school holidays in July and culminating in the Bournemouth Air Festival on the first weekend in September. The programme incorporates live music, outdoor cinema, children’s entertainment, festivals, fireworks and more.

Red Arrows arriving at Bournemouth Air Festival
Red Arrows arriving at Bournemouth Air Festival

Music

A whole host of musicians perform throughout the summer at a number of locations across the three towns. Pictured; a fun Sunday afternoon at Christchurch Harbour with a diverse selection of musical entertainment. First up; Mr Eversley, a Cuban whose music is distinctly Caribbean and quite serious. Followed by the Jimmy Hillbillies with their infectious enthusiasm. One minute we’re listening to songs about Cuban freedom fighters, the next – chickens on moonshine!

Jimmy Hillbillies at Christchurch Bandstand
Jimmy Hillbillies at Christchurch Bandstand

Outdoor Cinema

A giant screen shows family friendly movies throughout the day. The screen makes appearances at a variety of locations during the summer.

Entertainment

Street entertainers can be spotted wandering around the three towns, maybe on stilts or perhaps with flowerpots on their heads. There are also a range of activities for children on offer, like circus workshops.

Stilt walker

Bournemouth

Incorporated into Bournemouth’s Festival Coast Live festivities are Bourne Free, Friday Fireworks and Bournemouth Air Festival. In addition, there is regular entertainment in various locations (Lower Gardens, Seafront and town centre).

Bourne Free
Bourne Free

Christchurch

In addition to live music in the bandstand, Christchuch’s entertainment includes Christchurch Food Festival, Stompin’ on the Quomps Jazz Festival and Mudeford Arts Festival.

Entertainment in Christchurch Bandstand
Entertainment in Christchurch Bandstand

Poole

In addition to the above mentioned music and entertainment, Poole’s offerings include weekly car (Quay for my Car) and motorcycle displays (Poole Dream Machines), food and music festivals, Poole goes Vintage, SandPolo and Thursday Fireworks. Summer entertainment takes place on Poole Quay, the High Street, Poole Park and Ashley Cross.

Arts by the Sea

After a couple of weeks to draw breath, entertainment resumes with Arts by the Sea in Bournemouth and Play in Christchurch.

Arts by the Sea
Arts by the Sea

Christmas

Festival Coast Live returns later in the year with Christmas Tree Wonderland in Bournemouth and the Maritime Lights Festival in Poole.

Christmas Tree Wonderland

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 62 – Avon Beach

Avon Beach one of three Blue Flag beaches in the Christchurch area. Unlike many of the beaches around Bournemouth, this one is accessible without having to negotiate your way down the cliffs, with car parking adjacent to the beach. Car parking costs around £1.90 an hour.

Avon Beach
Avon Beach

The beach is also accessible via a promenade from Mudeford Quay to the west and Friar’s Cliff Beach to the east.

Avon Beach Promenade
Avon Beach Promenade

Beach

The beach is mainly sand, although not quite the glorious golden sand found further towards Bournemouth. Once you have scrambled over the pebbles which line the shore, the sea is shallow and flat, ideal for safe paddling and swimming for younger children (or for old ladies who don’t like waves!)

Avon Beach
Avon Beach

Lifeguards

The Avon Beach Lifeguard tower is in manned from 10 am until 6 pm between 9th July and 4th September. It’s not quite the iconic beach lifeguard tower; it looks more like someone dumped an old shed in the middle of the beach.

Avon Beach Lifeguard Tower
Avon Beach Lifeguard Tower

The Noisy Lobster

Covering all your culinary needs is The Noisy Lobster; a family run beach front restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining. It specialises in seafood, however the menu also includes some imaginative vegetarian/vegan options.

The Noisy Lobster
The Noisy Lobster

The Noisy Lobster also has a hatch selling takeaway food (The Lobster Hatch), a Coffee Cabin, an Ice Cream Parlour and a Deli/Shop with in-store bakery which wafts the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread across the beach. They can even rent you a beach hut or ‘occasion hut’ for those who like to party on the beach.

The Noisy Lobster Deli Shop
The Noisy Lobster Deli Shop
The Noisy Lobster Ice Cream Parlour
The Noisy Lobster Ice Cream Parlour

Other Facilities

There are public toilets near The Noisy Lobster.

Avon Beach Pebbles
Avon Beach Pebbles

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 61 – Friars Cliff Beach

Friars Cliff is the middle of three Blue Flag Beaches around Christchurch. It is easily accessible with just a short ramp connecting it to the car park at Steamer Point. Parking costs around £1.70 an hour in summer and 70p per day in winter.

Friars Cliff Beach
Friars Cliff Beach

Beach

The beach is predominantly sandy with a little shingle along the water’s edge. The Beach Guide describes Friars Cliff Beach as; “a good choice for a families looking for somewhere to paddle in the gentle waves and admire the lovely views.”

Friars Cliff Beach
Friars Cliff Beach

Lifeguards

There are no lifeguards on Friars Cliff Beach for the 2022 season. So, where I would agree with The Beach Guide about the views, the lack of lifeguards makes it less family friendly than neighbouring beaches, in my opinion.

View over Friars Cliff Beach
View over Friars Cliff Beach

Bars/Restaurants

The Beach Hut Cafe specialises in burgers, pizzas and home made cakes. There is seating on the prom overlooking the beach.

The Beach Hut Cafe
The Beach Hut Cafe

Other Facilities

There are toilets and showers available on the prom near the cafe and beach huts to rent. A short walk up to the cliff top will bring you to Steamer Point Nature Reserve.

Steamer Point
Steamer Point

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 60 – Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle is a fortress situated on the end of a shingle spit off the English coast, less than a mile from the Isle of Wight. The 16th Century castle has a long and interesting history plus spectacular views.

Hurst Castle Interior
Hurst Castle Interior

Getting There

The castle is situated 15 miles east of Bournemouth and can be reached either from Milford on Sea via a shingle spit or from Keyhaven by ferry.

Arriving at Hurst Point along the Shingle Spit
Arriving at Hurst Point along the Shingle Spit

Shingle Spit

The raised shingle spit is around two miles long. We ran along it to the castle during the lockdown, which was hard work but fun. The walk (run?) is quite hard on the legs, but the views are pretty special. I recommend sturdy shoes and plenty of water.

Shingle Spit to Hurst Castle
Shingle Spit to Hurst Castle

There is a car park near the beginning of the spit; Hurst Road East Car Park. Charges are seasonal, but approximately £1 an hour. Alternatively, the X1 and X2 buses runs from Bournemouth to Milford on sea, stopping close to the end of the spit.

Shingle Spit
Shingle Spit

Ferry

A more sedate but equally scenic way to access the castle is to take a short ferry ride from Keyhaven. The ferry runs between 10 am and 5.30 pm from April until October. Departures are, theoretically, every 30 minutes. However, in practice, during busy times ferries are far more frequent with boats departing as soon as they are full. An adult return ticket costs £7 (a single is £4).

Hurst Ferry
Hurst Ferry

There is parking near the ferry at Keyhaven Amenity Car Park. Note: if you decide to walk one way and take the ferry the other, the end of the spit and the ferry dock are about a mile apart.

Arriving at Hurst Point by Ferry
Arriving at Hurst Point by Ferry

Hurst Castle

The Castle, which is owned by English Heritage, is open daily between April and October, from 10 am until 5.30 pm (April – September) or 4 pm (October). As parts of the castle collapsed during storms in 2021, only the Tudor Castle is currently open to the public – The East and West Wings remain closed. Indeed, much of it lies on the beach in chunks, catalogued and ready to be reconstructed like an enormous jigsaw puzzle. Entry costs £4.50 for adults (free to English Heritage Members).

Hurst Castle Jigsaw Puzzle
Hurst Castle Jigsaw Puzzle

Tudor Castle

The original part of the castle is a Tudor fort, built in 1541 as part of Henry VIII’s coastal defences.

Tudor Castle

You can climb to the top of the Castle Keep for an amazing 360 degree view of the English coast, the channel and the Isle of Wight.

View from the Castle Keep
View from the Castle Keep

King Charles I

During the English Civil War, King Charles I was imprisoned in Hurst Castle briefly during 1648, before being returned to London and executed the following year.

Tudor Castle
Tudor Castle

World War II

The Castle played an important role in the country’s defences during World War II, guarding the south coast from the risk of German invasion. There are weapons and other military paraphernalia from this era on display.

 World War II Kit
World War II Kit

Lighthouses

Hurst Point’s key position at the entry to the channel running between the English coast and the Isle of Wight, combined with the shifting nature of the shingle, has resulted in the building of several lighthouses.

Hurst Point High Light
High Light

Three remain intact; two within the castle itself; the 19th Century High Light and the 20th Century Low Light (built on a steel gantry so it could be moved to a new position if necessary). They formed a line which helped guide ships into the channel.

Hurst Point Low Light
Low Light

Hurst Point Lighthouse

The currently operational lighthouse was built in 1867 and is situated just outside the castle grounds.

Hurst Point Lighthouse
Hurst Point Lighthouse

Cafe

There is a small cafe (open between April and October) and a gift shop near the ferry dock, just outside the castle castle entrance. It’s a pleasant place to sit and relax whilst waiting for a ferry/psyching yourself up for the two mile return shingle extravanganza.

Hurst Castle Exterior
Hurst Castle Exterior

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 59 – Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle, perched on the cliff top on the outskirts of Highcliffe, isn’t quite as old as the name ‘Castle’ might suggest. The original Highcliffe Mansion was built (too close to the cliff edge) in 1775. Once this house had been lost to coastal erosion, the current Highcliffe Castle was built, slightly further inland, between 1831 and 1836.

Highcliffe Castle
Highcliffe Castle (Front)

The castle, a Grade I Listed Building, built in the ‘Romantic and Picturesque’ Style, was the the brainchild of Lord Stuart de Rothesay. This former ambassador to France imported stone from a derelict French abbey to be incorporated into the construction.

Highcliffe Castle
Highcliffe Castle (Front)

Later, from 1916 to 1922 the house was rented by Harry Gordon Selfridge, founder of the Selfridges Department Store. After functioning as a children’s home and a religious seminary, it was partially destroyed by fire. A period of neglect followed before it was compulsorily purchased by the council in 1977. The castle is now owned by the local (BCP) council who have undertaken the task of restoring it to its former glory.

Highcliffe Castle
Highcliffe Castle (Rear)

Highcliffe Castle is situated 8 miles east of Bournemouth and can be reached via bus routes X1 and X2. There is plenty of parking in the castle grounds, although with a popular Blue Flag beach at the bottom of the cliffs, this can fill up quickly in summer. The car park is Pay & Display. Fees are approximately £1.50 per hour (with a maximum time limit of 4 hours) during summer and a flat rate of 70p between October and March. The castle is open from Sunday to Thursday between 10 am and 4 pm. Although the castle is closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, the shop (10-1) and tea rooms (10-4) remain open. Admission costs £7 for adults.

Highcliffe Castle (Rear)
Highcliffe Castle (Rear)

Castle Grounds

The castles grounds were designed in 1775 by famous landscape architect Capability Brown, who planted trees to stabilise the cliff top as well as introducing more formal gardens and a beach hut. To the rear of the castle is the formal parterre. From here, woodland walks extend along the coast.

Highcliffe Castle Gardens
Highcliffe Castle Gardens

The grounds are open daily from 7 am, closing at around dusk; 6.30 pm (November-March) 7.30 pm (April and October), 9 pm (May and September) and 10 pm (June-August).

Cafe

The castle has tea gardens to the rear where you can purchase drinks and snacks and sit on the terrace and watch the world (and wedding guests) go by.

Highcliffe Castle and Cafe

Steamer Point

A nice ‘circular’ walk to take is to follow the path along the cliff top to Steamer Point, then descend and return along the beach. Steamer Point is so called because in 1829 the castle’s owner decided to have a steamer lodged into a gap in the cliff tops because, well she liked paddle steamers?

Steamer Point
Steamer Point

Steamer Point Lodge

The steamer is long gone, but there is a house built above where it used to lie called Steamer Point Lodge. This two bedroom former warden’s lodge on the cliff top is now a holiday rental with stunning views and beach access.

Steamer Point Lodge
Steamer Point Lodge

Steamer Point Nature Reserve

The surrounding area forms Steamer Point Nature Reserve, which consists of a wooded area running alongside a lake.

View from Steamer Point
View from Steamer Point

Steamer Point Woodland Information Centre

There is a small building where you can learn more about the nature of the surrounding area with interactive displays for children.

Steamer Point Woodland Information Centre
Steamer Point Woodland Information Centre

Highcliffe Beach

The Blue Flag Highcliffe Beach can be reached via a sloping zigzag (no steps) or by (118) steps from the cliff top. It consists of a sandy beach lined with grassy sand dunes.

Highcliffe Beach
Highcliffe Beach

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 56 – Get Cheesy

It is a fundamental fact of life that you can’t have too much cheese. To deal with this inevitability, there is Renoufs. This local chain of Cheese & Wine bars is situated at 7 locations in and around Bournemouth, with branches in Westbourne, Wimborne, Lyndhurst, Canford Cliffs, Verwood and our very own local – Southbourne.

Renoufs Party Platter
Renoufs Party Platter

The allocation of cheese is determined by party size. Pictured is the Party Board; designed to serve 4 people, it consists of 8 cheeses and 8 meets selected from the day’s list. This comes on a board scattered with accompaniments, such as bread, crackers, pate, olives, hummus and pickles.

Renoufs Party Platter
Renoufs Party Platter

There are similar offers for smaller/larger parties. A vegan option is also available, although it contains things such as stuffed vine leaves and avocado salad as ‘a delicious alternative to cheese’ rather than vegan cheese, which, I feel, would be a more delicious alternative.

Another Night at Renoufs
Another Night at Renoufs

To top off a perfect evening of cheese consumption, wine is offered either by the glass or as a Wine Flight of 3 samples. And if you really can’t get enough cheese, there’s even the option of a Cheesecake Flight for dessert.

Another Night at Renoufs
Another Night at Renoufs

Shopping for Cheese

In addition to its restaurant chain, Renoufs has two Pantry Cheese Shops; in Westbourne and Christchurch. Here you can purchase a wide range of cheeses plus those all important cheese accompaniments such as crackers and condiments. In addition, there are seasonal offerings like picnic goodies in summer and hampers at Christmas. You can even buy a tiered cheese wedding cake.

The Bournemouth suburb of Southbourne may only be small, but it’s big on cheese. A few doors down from Renoufs is another cheese shop; Parlourmentary. Here, you can buy a wide range of cheeses, plus other deli provisions and a variety of locally produced goodies such as fruit & veg, baked goods and ice cream.

Parlourmentary

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 55 – RNLI Mudeford Lifeboat Fun Day

The RNLI Mudeford Lifeboat Fun Day is, as the name suggests, a day of fun activities to raise money for the Mudeford Lifeboat. The highlights of the event are a Raft Race and a Duck Race. In addition, there are a lifeboat displays, food stalls, items for sale, fairground rides, live music and other attractions.

RNLI Lifeboat Fun Day
RNLI Lifeboat Fun Day

The event takes place, spreading out from Mudeford Quay and onto the marshlands around Christchurch Harbour. There is what is described as ‘Park & Stride’ parking at nearby Stanpit Recreation Ground (i.e. Park & Ride without the actual Ride bit).

Raft Race
Raft Race

We arrived at the Fun Day just in time for the raft race, which entails local groups and businesses racing home made rafts along the quayside.

Raft Race
Raft Race

It was the first time that this usually annual event had taken place in four years due to bad weather and Covid. But today was a perfect summer’s day and the crowds were out in their thousands. This meant that it was difficult to actually see the action, but there was a running commentary, as we tried to snatch glimpses of the race through the rows and rows of people lined up on the harbourside. In the end, we resorting to filming the race on our phones held above our heads and then watching the video footage.

Tony Hairdressing at the Raft Race
Tony Hairdressing at the Raft Race

Tony Hairdressing, in their flamingo themed raft and matching flamingo outfits, brought up the rear of the race but won the prize for best turned out raft.

RNLI Mascot
RNLI Mascot

Raft race over, we took a wander around the site, trying to avoid the rather creepy RNLI mascot. To be honest, I find all mascots creepy – apparently it is an actual condition called masklophobia.

Fairground Rides
Fairground Rides

We made a brief stop at a donut stall for sustenance, whilst watching people enjoying the fairground rides.

Fairground Rides
Fairground Rides

Then we attempted to buy some RNLI themed goodies, but there were issues with the card reader and plenty of visitors who had turned up without cash. I managed to pay for my goods. However, thereafter, the card reader ceased to function completely and a large queue formed, while a volunteer tried various tricks (including some really weird ones suggested by people in the queue) to reconnect. Eventually, we gave up queuing and set off back along the quayside, while I pondered why on earth anyone would think that sticking a card reader to your head would help with wifi reception?)

RNLI Biscuits
RNLI Biscuits

The Duck Race consists of thousands of rubber ducks racing along the river. Visitors are offered the opportunity to purchase a duck for £1. The first duck across the line wins its ‘owner’ a £50 prize. However, they had sold out of ducks before we reached the duck stall.

Mudeford Spit
Mudeford Spit from Mudeford Quay

So, we decided to call it a day and went in search of lunch. It was indeed a fun day and I shall be back next year (with cash).

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 54 – Stompin’ on the Quomps

The rather unusually named Stompin’ on the Quomps is Christchurch’s annual jazz festival. It takes place in the park on the edge of Christchurch Harbour, aka ‘The Quomps’. Running for one day in August, from midday until 10 pm, it’s mainly about the music. But there is also food and other entertainment. Entry is free, but a suggested minimum donation of £5 is welcomed. In addition, there is a raffle to help raise funds for this unticked event.

 Hop on Inn Bus Bar
Purchasing supplies at the Hop on Inn Bus Bar

I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to Stompin’ on the Quomps until I saw some drone footage posted by the organisers posted around lunch time. To say it was busy was an understatement. A heatwave during the school holidays coinciding with the first day of the Premier League football season means the world and his wife has headed for Bournemouth this weekend. Much as I love Bournemouth, on days like today, I prefer to remain in my garden with my cats.

Drone footage of Stompin’ on the Quomps

However, with daughter no two’s in-laws visiting, I relent and we head off to catch the end of the show. The crowds fill the entire field, but there are a plethora of loud speakers spread around the Quomps, so you can hear the music clearly wherever you are.

Stompin' on the Quomps
Visiting Stompin’ on the Quomps

People have brought chairs and blankets and set up mini camps on the grassy bank to enjoy the music in the sunshine. There is a lovely, chilled party vibe.

Stompin' on the Quomps
Crowds at Stompin’ on the Quomps

The whole site is surrounded by a ring of food and drink stalls selling all manner of goodies – we head straight for a Pimms stall. Once we have our drinks, we take a wander round the site.

Pimms at Stompin' on the Quomps
Pimms at Stompin’ on the Quomps

At first, we can’t work out where the music is coming from – there doesn’t appear to be a stage. Then we realise that the band is actually in the bandstand (duh). Right on the edge of the Quomps, the Edwardian bandstand is currently home to Taverners Big Band.

Taverners Big Band
Taverners Big Band

We really enjoy the band’s performance, which is mainly instrumental, but they are joined on stage by a singer for numbers like Mack the Knife. The bandstand is surrounded by a ring of enthusiastic dancers.

Stompin' on the Quomps
Dancing to the Band

The performance is excellent, as is the whole atmosphere of the festival. The live music continues as the sun sets over the harbour for a perfect evening. I’m regretting not coming much earlier in the day – a mistake not to be made next year!

Sunset over Stompin' on the Quomps
Sunset over Stompin’ on the Quomps

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 51 – A Brush of Genius

Having not done any painting since I put down my brushes after my O Level art exam in 1982, one of my lockdown hobbies was pebble painting. Today, I’m taking it one step further; I am going to take on a Hockney painting . A Brush of Genius, aka artist Stuart Faulkner, offers art classes where participants attempt to replicate a masterpiece.

David Hockney - The Diver
David Hockney – The Diver

Today’s class, at The Red House Museum in Christchurch, will be on David Hockney’s The Diver; a piece commissioned to promote the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. As a student, I lived in the Olympic Village in Munich, so this painting and I go way back.

Starting painting

Its a bit of a stressful start to the afternoon. It’s a sunny summer’s day, so the traffic is heaving and finding somewhere to park is a nightmare. I finally find a spot but arrive ten minutes late. The remaining class members have already finished sketching the torso and I am playing catch up.

Original and Copy

Stuart helps me get started. I soon have something looking vaguely like a man’s body on my canvas and can start on the water, which is therapeutic. Throughout the class, Stuart demonstrates technique step-by-step, interspersed with telling us interesting facts about Hockney, his life and work.

Starting on the water

Once the water is painted, back to finalising the torso. I have a bit of a problem with the shading of the muscles. My diver looks like he’s had very recent open heart surgery, but Stuart helps me to improve my shading. I finish with putting the details into the face. He asks me if I am going for a Japanese Manga effect with my diver? I say yes.

Group Photo with final paintings

Final task is to outline the water splodges (technical term) in white. The class is three hours long, which passes amazingly quickly. I need to leave ten minutes early as my parking slot has a three hour time limit. I don’t quite manage to get the water finished, but I really enjoyed my afternoon and am quite pleased with the results.

Finishing off at home

The three hour class cost £22, including instruction, materials and refreshments. A Brush of Genius classes take place with different paintings for inspiration over a variety of locations in and around Bournemouth. Some include alcohol and nibbles. I shall definitely be back. Next up, in September; Jean Metzinger’s Paysage Coloré aux Oiseaux Aquatiques and Monet’s The beach and the Falaise D’Amont. A career as an art forger is not on the cards!

Jean Metzinger - Paysage Coloré aux Oiseaux Aquatiques
Jean Metzinger – Paysage Coloré aux Oiseaux Aquatiques
Monet - The Beach and the Falaise D'Amont
Monet – The Beach and the Falaise D’Amont

100 Things to do in (and around) Bournemouth 48 – Classic Cars on the Prom/Quay

If you love a classic car, then you’re in for a treat. If you’re a petrol head, you can admire some beautifully restored classic vehicles. If, like me, you are getting on a bit, you can happily walk along the rows of up to 500 vehicles muttering “I used to have one of those” or “they don’t make them like that any more”.

VW Dormobile
VW Dormobile – “I used to have one of those”

Organised via the Bournemouth and Poole Preservation Club, this event rotates across two/three locations during the year; on the Prom in Bournemouth during the winter months, moving in May to Christchurch Harbour for the summer months.

Classic Cars on the Quay
Arriving at Classic Cars on the Quay

Classic Cars on the Prom

During the winter months, you can enjoy Classic Cars on the Prom, when hundreds of classic car owners (vehicles must be pre 2001 to qualify) bring their vehicle to Bournemouth seafront to show them off.

Classic Cars on the Prom

Classic Cars On The Prom takes place between 11am and 2pm behind the Bournemouth International Centre.

Range Rover – “I used to have one of those”

Classic Cars on the Quay

In Spring, the event moves to Christchurch Quay and becomes Classic Cars on the Quay for a series of six shows. It runs from 11 am to 5 pm and Entry is free for spectators, who can take a stroll along the quayside admiring the variety of vehicles; mainly cars but with a few buses, bikes, lorries, even a fire engine. Cars range from the very old to more recent (20 year old).

Classic Cars on the Quay
Classic Cars on the Quay – all the reds
Classic Cars on the Quay
Classic Cars on the Quay

Classic Cars on the Farm

Classic Cars on the Farm at the Cat & Fiddle Pick your Own in Hinton is not running this year.

2022 Remaining Dates

4th September – Classic Cars On The Quay

25th September – Classic Cars On The Quay

Classic Cars on the Quay
Heading for Classic Cars on the Quay