The New Forest

9th March 2007 at 00:00
Cathy MacArthur teaches hospitality studies at Brockenhurst College in The New Forest and runs MJ's, its training restaurant

Favourite place when you have time off?

It's beautiful to have the forest to go out into. There are plenty of car parks, walks, cycle paths and picnic areas. Even though we live here we often go to a campsite for the weekend. In some you have to take your own portable loo - we're not quite into that.

There are lots of villages in The New Forest. Burley has teashops, a pub and a cycle hire shop by the station that has maps, so you could just get off the train and go.

Paulton's Park (www.paultonspark.co.uk), a theme park for four to 14-year-olds, is a fun day out but can be quite expensive.

In the village of Beaulieu, the Montagu Arms is a hotel, pub and relaxed bistro, with a restaurant overlooking the gardens. It's near Palace House, where Lord Montagu has his motor museum (www.beaulieu.co.uk).

Good time to come?

The New Forest Show is held in Brockenhurst every July. We always go - it's a day's entertainment with wood chopping, pole climbing and sheep shearing, but getting to and from it can take a long time with the traffic jams. (The show takes place from July 24-26. Visit www.newforestshow.co.uk).

Lunchtime treats?

Brookley's is a good bistro in Brockenhurst; Lounges of Lymington is relaxing when you want to go for a nice cup of coffee and sit in an armchair; and Wistaria, a bistro in Lymington, has nice light lunches and sandwiches.

Holmsley tea rooms, in an old station in the middle of the forest, does lunches as well as traditional teas, and is good for the children - it's on a cycle track, so it's flat and not too far for us to ride.

Evening delights?

We like to go upmarket - the New Forest is near Bournemouth and Southampton so we have all the hotels and restaurants there.

Sometimes I have a relaxing spa day at Chewton Glen (www.chewtonglen.com), on the edge of the forest and only 15 minutes from Bournemouth. It is expensive but it's a real treat.

Don't miss

The New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park (www.ottersandowls.co.uk) in Longdown near Lyndhurst. We like to walk through the forest among the deer

Find out more

www.thenewforest.co.uk has details of what to see and do, how to get the free 2007 Where to Stay Guide, and also offers online booking for accommodation

MJ's restaurant is open for lunch during the week in term time, booking is essential, call 01590 625537.

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