Sometimes we naively assume that we know a place like the back of our hand, every little nook and corner worth exploring. This is exactly how we felt about our little village, Burley, until a few weeks ago when we stumbled upon the most delightful surprise. With days spent wandering into the village centre aplenty, making friends with local ponies on the way and sampling every quaint cafe and pub, we considered ourselves very much the seasoned locals. What we’ve always wondered, however, is where the ponies retreat to when they’re not busy parading around the streets of Burley. There are days, usually the more miserable, traditionally English ones, when the ponies are nowhere to be seen; when dusk falls, the village centre not only becomes free of tourists but of the animals too; driving through the heathland areas at night, there may not be a pony in sight. Where do they go to rest? Often a route off the well-worn path leads to wonderful discoveries and this is exactly what happened when we took a shortcut through the woods. The scene that greeted us was every bit as magical and whimsical as we could have hoped for.
Tucked behind the village centre, the woodland area here is the resting spot for Burley’s ponies, where these charming creatures could easily be mistaken for unicorns. Some nestled sleepily amongst the trees, others grazing for treats under piles of leaves, seeing the ponies in their natural element away from the hustle and bustle of village life made us feel rather honoured, if not a little intrusive. We tried our best to quietly tiptoe through without disturbing them too much, only an inquisitive glimpse or nod from the odd pony or two, the mothers instinctively protective of their young in their gentle way. One important thing to always remember is that forests belong to the animals, and this is something that we have always tried to respect.
After this little whimsical moment, the rest of our day continued in the usual way, with slow afternoon drinks in Burley’s cosy pubs followed by a leisurely walk home before the sky started to turn the colour of ink. These days out are our favourite way to spend time, surrounded by nature and each other’s company. I feel most at peace when I’m here in the New Forest and I owe it to this little place for inspiring the beginnings of this blog.
With winter slowly coming to an end, I wanted to share some last moments from February before woolly hats and teddy coats become irrelevant, and spring blooms take over.
What hidden areas have you stumbled upon?