Bournemouth, Part 2. A great mini-break out of season.

Bournemouth Pier. Sandy beaches are great any time of the year.

Bournemouth Pier. Sandy beaches are great any time of the year.

My friend Dalia and I were invited by the Bournemouth Tourist Office to spend a few days in Bournemouth in August.  Being England, it alternated between cold, lashing rain and somewhere that resembled the French Riviera. However, we found plenty of really awesome things to do, apart from eating and drinking, whatever the weather was doing, so I am putting this destination on my "great places to go out of season" along with Rye, Hastings and, of course, Brighton where I live!  

In season, or out of season, beaches and the coastline always fascinate.

In season, or out of season, beaches and the coastline always fascinate.

What I love about seaside towns, whatever the time of year, is the fantastic walks along the coast, working up an appetite breathing in all those negative ions.  And, talking of appetite, you might not think of Bournemouth as a culinary center, but Dalia and I ate the most fantastic food during our stay so were very glad of the long walks to work it all off!  You can read more here.

However, you can't spend your whole time eating, sleeping & walking so one of my top tips for avoiding the rain, if it's bucketing down, ('excuse the pun!) is to take yourself straight off to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. 

The Russell-Cotes Museum needs all the help it can get to renovate its beautiful buildings.

The Russell-Cotes Museum needs all the help it can get to renovate its beautiful buildings.

There's a great little cafe at the Museum if you need a cuppa.......

The art collection, the views and the house (and gardens) itself make for a fascinating visit, as does the history behind this unique museum.  In 1901 Merton Russell-Cotes, owner of the Royal Bath Hotel, gave his wife Annie this house on the cliff-top next door to the hotel. They then shopped till they dropped.......

......filling this exotic seaside villa with artefacts, antiques & art from their travels all over the world.

One of my favourites has to be Rosetti's Venus Verticordia, above left, but we also loved the costumes, antique-filled rooms, ceilings and gardens as much as the art.  The Russell-Cotes Museum has special exhibitions, events, and workshops all year round, so check on their site, here, if you fancy a visit. 

Should the sun come out and you fancy a trip down the road to Poole, I would really recommend a visit to this gorgeous natural harbour. We went on one of City's sightseeing hop on, hop off buses, which run until the end the season. It was great seeing millionaires' Sandbanks on one side and Poole Harbour on the other.  Lovely on a sunny mild day.  It's easy to get there by car or the local bus service whatever time of the year you visit. Just check with the Tourist Office, on-line, or by the big wheel in the city centre. 

POOLE HARBOUR, DORSET.

POOLE HARBOUR, DORSET.

Once you get to Poole, you'll be blown away by the architecture and history around every corner of this gorgeous quayside town.......

.....the blue skies certainly helped the day we visited, but you may be lucky whatever time of the year you go±

.......there are some gorgeous shops & independent coffee shops in Poole, such as the Coffee Salon where we stopped off for a refuel.  Sad news for those of you who love Poole Pottery, they've closed at the time of writing this after 144 years!  How sad is that? 

Poole is also all about the boats, the harbour and its working port.  A great area to wander around, take photos, go on a long walk along the Jurassic coastline or take a boat trip out to one of the nearby islands such as Brownsea Island.  Come to think about it, I think I need a separate long weekend in Poole there's so much to do in this delightful town!

Tired of the sea and fancy somewhere with spectacular gardens?  Not far from Poole & Bournemouth we spent a delightful afternoon at Compton Acres, an Italian villa that's open all year round. There's plenty of parking if you go by car or you can take the Purbeck Breezer Open Top Bus, Route 50, between Swanage and Bournemouth, or just jump in a cab. 

COMPTON ACRES, DORSET.

COMPTON ACRES, DORSET.

And you can get a nice cream tea at Compton Acres, all year round. Pick a dry day for the gardens because they really are fantastic to walk around with a different garden theme or interesting sculpture around every corner. Oh, and they have a great little shop too, guess what I bought?  Yes, another headscarf!

So that was our lovely mini-break in Bournemouth & Poole.  Big thanks to Irene at Tourism South East.  We had a ball. There are heaps more things to do in Bournemouth in or out of season such as: visiting the Oceanarium, seeing a show at the Pavilion Theatre or catching one of the little trains along the beach to Boscombe (they run April-October, in School Holidays and at weekends through the winter.)  But if you do get stuck for ideas, just pop into the Bournemouth Tourist Centre near the big wheel or pop on-line here. 

But best of all, for me, are the walks along Bournemouth's sandy beaches which I enjoy more out of season than on crowded hot summer days, and you can still build sand castles, whatever the time of year. In the words of Billy Connelly, it's never the weather that's wrong, just your clothes, so pack well and have fun!

Let me know if you too love Bournemouth and Poole, want to visit but never have, or any other top tips for travelers. 

And if you want to read more on my mini-breaks, days out or favourite holiday destinations, just click on the new blog category Travel & Lifestyle, here.

See you soon,

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