Enjoying a weekend not a million miles away from home

Mini-breaks. Great aren’t they, but can somehow still a bit of a fag?   We have always loved the idea of enjoying a weekend away not a million miles from home so we can feel we have done something with our weekend, yet not spent it on the motorway.   No point checking in to a gorgeous city and fabulous hotel for the weekend if it is the other end of the country and you have spent so long getting there you can’t actually see the city or enjoy the hotel.

So isn’t it great to find a bit of the country you don’t know well, head off for the weekend and just do sod-all? And yet, that does seems really extravagant, spending money for the sake of it, what with the cost of hotels and eating out…so we thought we’d try and find a slightly more economical option.

We’d never been to Poole.   We’d been through Poole a few times, past Poole a lot of times, and gone there to set off for a blast around the harbour in an amazing Sunseeker, courtesy of our friend Rachael a looooooong time ago.  But we’d never been ‘to’ Poole.

So when Travelodge offered us the chance to go explore somewhere ‘new’, without it costing us the earth, we thought Poole sounded like a good place to start. It’s just over an hour away, we’d never stayed there, it’s home to the Dorset Copacabana  and you can go and find red squirrels.

Did you know there’s a bit called Old Poole, which sounds remarkably like one of my old class-mates? It has delightful little twisty streets, lots of pubs, a couple of boutique hotels and a stack of very good restaurants. So good, in fact that they were fully booked

No room for riff-raff like us!

The trip started out well, with a good trip down, hotel in a nice easy location and the first pub we walked into being really pretty good.

Having sampled the local gin we then went on walkabout through Poole, ending up on the quayside at 3pm…….where we saw trips to Brownsea Island.

Not having heard much detail about Brownsea, it was still familiar but we weren’t really sure why. Then we remembered that it is National Trust-owned, the last English refuge (I think) of the red squirrel and John Lewis have a hotel on it. Oh and the Scouts hold camps there. And there is a peacock or two.

So, off we popped on the boat to Brownsea, landing at around 4, to be told that the last boat back was at 5:10. Slightly expensive for a 25 minute stay (if you’ve ever been on a schedule with Mummy Barrow, you’ll know that she’s not exactly a last-minute kind of girl, so I had to push to get to spend even 25 minutes roaming the island!) but still good fun.   There is more on the island in this post:  Brownsea Island

Fortunately the boat back took the long way round so we got a good tour of the various private islands in Poole Harbour, all their scandals and financial troubles  before we got dumped back on the quay, gently swaying from the sea legs, not the on-board bar, honest.

We tried to book a table in a couple of restaurants we’d seen on the walk down (too late, so if you go to Poole and see a restaurant you like the look of, I’d say book it as there aren’t too many!) then walked a bit further through the Old Town, taking a snap or two before grabbing some tapas and then heading back to bed.

This isn’t a Travelodge review but if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced hotel in a town you don’t know, you won’t go wrong with Travelodge as they are consistent, well placed and they’ll sort any issues you might have (we didn’t have any) quickly….it’s what they do.

Along with the best breakfast buffet in town


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  • Red Squirrels abound near Southport in Lancashire/Merseyside.
    Also on Anglesey which, I accept, is not in England.
    Are those in your Dad’s Owl Box Red as well?
    Probably not.