Our Last Port Day at Exbury Gardens

It was a beautiful day in Southampton, England when we docked.  All of our British friends who were on the World Cruise, or segments of the World Cruise, were disembarking. We hated to see them go for we had such fun together.  We knew we would miss them on the transatlantic portion of the cruise (and we have). 

Barb had plans to meet some friends, Patsy and Dick, with whom she had cruised a few years ago.

 


Carolyn and Mary Jane were headed towards Exbury Gardens in the New Forest region outside of Beaulieu.  The Gardens, which are spread over 250 acres, are the home of the Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs. It lives up to its reputation of being a peaceful and relaxing setting along the Beaulieu River. 

We met Dick and Patsy at the cruise terminal where the Queen Mary 2 was docked, and we all headed out together to catch the 9:30 ferry to Hythe.  We got our tickets and boarded the ferry for our 12-minute sail to Hythe. 

 

Upon reaching the Hythe Pier, we were met by the pier train which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest (1917) operating pier train in the world, taking you from the ferry, down the dock, to the terminal building.  All very civilized.

 

 

We then drove from Hythe into The New Forest that is a national reserve that was set up centuries ago.  Today it serves as a recreational area for the local residents and is the home for hundreds of wild ponies and burros that roam the vast acreage at will, crossing the highways at their leisure and walking through the neighboring villages and towns. Even though they are considered “wild,” many of them are quite tame and come up to you looking for a handout.

  

We arrived at Exbury Gardens about 10:30.  Barb and her friends headed for the patio area to sit and chat over a pot of tea, catching up with their memories of past visits.

 

 Mary Jane and Carolyn headed for the Exbury Steam Railway to catch the 11 o’clock train inside the Gardens.

 


 

After the train ride Carolyn and Mary Jane split up and went our separate ways through the gardens.  Carolyn was using her new 105 mm macro camera lens and Mary Jane was experimenting with her 24 mm lens.  Each is a different way to look at all the beauty that surrounded us.

So we hope you will enjoy nature at her finest.

 

About 1:15, from behind a hedge, MJ heard CJ talking and laughing with some visitors to the Gardens, so by chance we were able to meet up again.  We decided it was time to take a lunch break and headed to the Tea Room for scones and brambly apple juice.  We were half way through our scones when MJ was surprised to see two of the Queen Mary 2 passengers who had disembarked that morning, Robert and Norma.

 

They had left the ship with all their luggage and had driven home, unloaded the car, and Norma was starting the laundry.  Robert looked at the huge mass of mail that had accumulated, and told Norma to forget the laundry, and they would come over to Exbury Gardens (which was just a few miles from their home), and try to find us.  We were so delighted to see them.  It was such a wonderful surprise.  So after we finished lunch they took us for a drive around the area and made certain we got back to the ship on time, with one minute to spare.

It was a perfect ending to our final World Cruise shore excursion!

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One Response to “Our Last Port Day at Exbury Gardens”

  1. Barbara Moschella April 23, 2011 at 8:00 am

    What a wonderful experience for y’all and us as well. I really enjoyed reading about your trip and sometimes through your descriptions I felt that I was there with you. May you have a safe journey home and Happy Easter.
    Barbara Moschella

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