Last weekend, summer arrived. After spending the majority of the half term holidays under cloudy skies, the weather decided to make up for lost time with 48 hours of glorious sunshine. And as luck had it, I had arranged to spend the weekend walking with friends on the South West Coast Path. Rather than getting soaked, the main problem turned out to be sunburn.
I’ve said it before in my columns but it is easy to forget how fortunate we are to be living in this part of the world. Salisbury is not just a beautiful city, but the countryside within a short train or car ride is remarkable. We’re lucky to have the likes of the New Forest on our doorstep and to be close to a stunning stretch of coastline.

For this trip, my group of friends took the train to Bournemouth, then walked along the promenade to Sandbanks, caught the chain ferry to Purbeck, following the coastal path via Studland and Swanage to end up at Worth Matravers, where a local folk band were serenading drinkers in a sunny beer garden with views of the sea.

There’s something both timeless and old fashioned about the Isle of Purbeck. That was certainly true of the hotel in Studland we stayed in, which boasted among other artefacts, a bust of the children’s writer Enid Blyton. It turned out Blyton holidayed at the hotel for years, always staying in the same room and eating at the same table in the restaurant. Purbeck in turn became the inspiration for many of her books, from the setting of Famous Five adventures to the real-life PC Plod in the Noddy series.

In many ways, the hotel itself hadn’t changed much since Blyton’s days: 70s décor and billiards in the bar, a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course whose fairways had not seen a lawnmower in living memory. The reception gave us our golf balls with a ‘good luck’ smile. It wasn’t long before we were scouring the gorse bushes to see where they’d gone (an amused deer looking on).
Over the course of the round, the golf balls disappeared and a singles match became foursomes to allow us to continue. But as the round continued, we started to pick up other balls that previous golfers had left behind. By the time we’d finished, we’d lost every ball we’d set out with, but returned with the same number of entirely different balls.
Which in many ways summed up what a good break should be about: you go off as one person, and return refreshed and recharged, a different person. As Elbow once sang, one day like this a year would see me right.