Places to Visit

This page provides a description of various places around the Normandy or Bournemouth area (where Summertime holds its holidays) that we have visited when not dancing.  It is hoped it will be of interest to Summertime attendees.  More sites will be added in due course.

Bournemouth Area - Swanage

Swanage is a small picturesque coastal town in Dorset, England. It is situated at the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck, approximately 15 miles south  west of Bournemouth.    The town was originally a small port and fishing village and has many old buildings in its centre including the Anchor Inn in the High Street which is some 400 years old and used to be used by the local men who barricaded themselves inside to escape the press gangs.  It is now used as a refuge for husbands whilst their wives visit the local shops.

Today the town remains a popular tourist resort, with many thousands of visitors coming to the town during the peak summer season, drawn by the bay's sandy beaches and other attractions.  There is a small pier which is open for a fee and is currently under reconstruction.

The main bus service from Bournemouth is the number 50 which runs between Swanage and Bournemouth via the chain ferry between Studland and Sandbanks. Double-deck open top buses are used on the route in the summer months.   By car the shortest route is via the Sandbanks/Studland ferry for which there is a charge - currently £3.50 or one can drive round via Wareham on the A351 although it is a lot further.  Between the ferry and Swanage is Knoll Beach (map), a National Trust site with a excellent stretch of Beach and views of Studland and Old Harry Rocks.  The associated car park is free to National trust members.  It is popular for water sports.  There is a shop and coffee house on site.

Swanage has a heritage restored steam railway which operates for most of the year, from Swanage Station to Norden with stations at Herston Halt, Harmans Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden.  A mixture of diesel and steam trains operate on the route.  A good view of Corfe castle can be seen from the train as it passes through Corfe Castle Station.  The best places to catch the train are either in Swanage or at Norden where their is a park and ride car park.

The Anchor Inn - A good place to wait while the women go shopping

Swanage Bay

Swanage Pier

Swanage from the pier

Swanage Railway

Corfe Castle from the Swanage Railway

Old Harry Rocks from Knoll Beach

Bournemouth Area - Bovington Tank Museum

The Tank Museum at Bovington (map) exhibitions tell the story of the tank and tank crews spanning almost 100 years of history.  It is supported by an extensive collection of tanks from many Nations and supporting equipment, from the first tank “Little Willie” to the latest Challenger 2.  In addition there are mock-ups of typical scenes such as first world war trenches to enable the visitor to get a better experience of what conditions are like.  During the school holidays they have outside demonstrations of some of the tanks.   The museum is very well laid out and is well worth a visit.  It is about 19 miles from Bournemouth with ample parking.

The first tank - “Little Willie”

First World War tank - British Mark V Male

German Second World War Panther tank

Latest British Challenger 2 tank

Bournemouth Area - Kingston Lacy

The main house

Hyacinth Garden

View on the estate

House interior

Display of daffodils

Clog dancing display

National Trust 17th century stately home and gardens located near Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4EA (map).    It is about 10 miles from Bournemouth and well worth a visit.  It has been the home of the Bankes family for more than 300 years and is noted for its lavish interiors and extensive art collection including paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Tintoretto, with the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK.

There are several marked walks through the surrounding parkland, and the estate is dominated by the Iron Age hill fort of Badbury Rings, home to fourteen varieties of orchid.  A new Japanese Garden has been added to the existing gardens.  In season the Camellia walk is a picture.

There are often special events taking place and when we were there there was also a display of clog dancing taking place.

Bournemouth Area

Normandy Area


West Green House Gardens


Winkworth Aboretum

Tank Museum Bovington

RHS Garden Wisley

Kingston Lacy

West Green House Gardens in Thackham's Lane, near Hartley Wintney, Hampshire RG27 8JB is a National Trust property but leased and run by the present occupant.  There are therefore limited opening hours.  The house is not accessible but the walled kitchen gardens and lakeside/woodland walks are.  There are also open air classical/opera concerts held there during the year.

Although the gardens aren’t large it is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a fine day.  There is a very nice coffee shop.

Normandy Area - West Green House Gardens

The house

Beside the coffee shop

The lake

Normandy Area - Winkworth Aboretum

Winkworth Aboretum Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey GU8 4AD (map), is National Trust woodland which  houses more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees, many of them rare. There is year-round colour, but the most impressive displays (see photos below) are in the spring, when the magnolias, bluebells and azaleas flower, and in the autumn, when the colour of the foliage is stunning. There are some steep slopes although there are stairs cut into the paths you can use.   Can be muddy.  There are toilets and a coffee shop by the entrance.  A photographers delight.

Spring Time

Spring Bluebells

Azaleas in the Spring

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

Clog The lake in Autumn


An attractive sea side town with good beaches and shopping.  There is an excellent bus service from all the hotels Summertime use to the town centre and surrounding areas such as Poole, Boscombe and Chichester.   Many of the shops are in the pedestrian precinct which runs up a hill to the “Triangle”.  The Marsham Court Hotel which Summertime use for the Old Time week holiday is closest to the bottom of the hill - Gervis Place.  The other hotel we use The Wessex is closest to the Triangle where there is a dance shoe shop “Dancezie” which gives discount to Summertime members.

The town has an attractive pier which is open to the public where you can catch boat trips or if you’re adventurous take a speed boat ride.  The pier is in walking distance of the Marsham Court hotel.  Opposite the Marsham Court is the Russell Cotes Museum which is well worth a visit.  There are displays of 19th-century paintings, sculptures and Japanese pieces along with special displays which vary.  When we visited there was a display of seaside comic postcards.  Look on their web site for news of current displays.

Bournemouth Pier

Russell Cotes Museum

Normandy Area - RHS Garden Wisley

RHS Garden Wisley Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB (map), is the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society.  The garden lies between Cobham and Ripley in Surrey, off the main London to Portsmouth road (A3) south of Junction 10 of the M25.  Entrance is free to RHS members.  Parking is free and the car park is large.  It also has a large plant centre attached where you can buy garden plants which appear to be in better condition than most garden centres.

Inside the grounds are several gardens including a rock garden, wild garden, rose garden, vegetable garden, alpine garden, country garden, fruit fields etc.  There are also model gardens to give the home owner ideas for their garden.  A new rose garden is opening later this year.  There is a large glass house with various more exotic plants.  There are various eateries including a “Honest Sausage” Cafe which does excellent sausages in a bread roll with onion relish.

Special events are held during the year.   When we visited there was a display by the British Carnation Society.

Allow yourself plenty of time for the visit as there is plenty to see.

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Rock Garden


The Original Rose Garden

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Exhibits in the British Carnation Society’s Display