Monday, 9 September 2013

Island Retreat, Hayling : A STONE'S THROW AWAY

So, I started the weekend just gone feeling TERRIBLE after a pretty raucous night out in South West London. It started as a very civilised affair at my place - I made makeshift salmon blinis [wholewheat bread, a dollop of cream cheese, a slither of smoked salmon and a squeeze of lemon juice] and sour dough bruschetta, which we washed down with prosecco...

....then gin and tonics....which I particularly enjoyed...

....then after arriving at the club - mojitos...more gin, coronas, get the picture.

But what better way to bust a hangover than a trip to the seaside! My lovely friend Sophie has a little beach house on Hayling Island. Her extended family own a small strip of coast and a little private beach - dotted along the edge of the water are sweet wooden bungalows. Everyone knows everyone and it's a lovely atmosphere.

The girls and I jumped on the train to Sophie's family home just outside of London to pick up the car, sipping some medicinal pepsi and regretting that final drink. Awaiting our arrival was a pretty fantastic lunch....

Ice cubes made out of crushed berries - such a lovely idea.

After demolishing plate upon plate of lunchtime goodness we piled into the car and bombed down the M3, listening to Bastille far too loudly, windows down, blowing away the cobwebs. As soon as we arrived we were straight out onto the water in kayaks, on paddle boards and in a dinky little rowing boat. I'm not going to lie - I am an appalling rower - so I commandeered the kayak and then got rowed around a bit. Bliss.

Now, Guest of the Weekend Award goes to the lovely Lucy – seen above in a fetching yellow kayak. She selflessly took all her clothes off and waded out to sea when the rowing boat escaped. Granted, the water was only waist-deep so flashing her bra to all and sundry was a little unnecessary but we enjoyed the impromptu striptease nonetheless.

My personal rower

I haven't quite mastered the 'Graceful Disembark' just yet - soaking wet jeans!
We had fish and chips for sups and practically rolled into bed for a sea-air induced slumber.

In the morning, feeling mightily refreshed after a good sleep, great vats of tea and piles of toast with marmalade, we set off on a walk around the island and it looked like everyone else had had the same idea - sailors, golfers, windsurfers, fishers - you name an activity, we saw it! We tripped over sand dunes and pebble beaches, through woods and down little foot-worn paths.

After a spot of crabbing on the harbour wall and a lunch of scrambled eggs on toast and apple crumble with lashing of custard we reluctantly packed up and headed back to London a little sun kissed and very relaxed. It was such a lovely twenty four hours, the perfect way to spend the last weekend of Summer. I love London with all my heart but sometimes you do need to step out of the bubble.

So you can probably guess what my Londoner suggestion is this time folks....

- GO TO HAYLING ISLAND! It's a stone's throw away from London - from Waterloo the train takes an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Havant, the nearest station to the island, then it's a short ten minute drive. Apparently there's also a bus, the 31A, which takes just under half an hour. There are lots of holiday homes on Hayling so book yourself in, or just go for the day, and blow those cobwebs away!