Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Knoll Beach at Studland Bay, Dorset. Whether braving the bitter wind for a wintry walk or fighting for a patch of sand in the height of summer, it is always a lovely day out.
Last week we had some friends to stay and, to celebrate the start of the school holidays, I booked a National Trust beach hut at Knoll Beach for the day.
You can rent huts at Studland on a daily, weekly, annual or three season basis, but there is a lengthy waiting list for the longer rentals. A day hire suited us perfectly and for £24 we had our own hut complete with two deck chairs and a wind break – what more could we want?!
I made the booking several weeks ago and, sure enough, as the day drew near it seemed I had put a hex on the weather. The forecast swung between rain and wind to cloud and drizzle. We ummed and ahhed but the night before the Met Office promised us a dry, if cool and cloudy, day. That was all the encouragement we needed, we’re British goddamnit, freezing temperatures and low visibility were not going to stand in the way of our picnic.
We loaded the car with teens, tween, dog, picnic, scarves, blankets, flasks of hot chocolate and buckets of gung-ho spirit.
Cut to our arrival at the beach to find us staggering, sweating, to the beach shop to buy emergency sun cream and cold drinks. Good old Blighty weather – always a surprise around the corner.
We collected the key to our home for the day and went in search of No.34. When I made the booking I was told that the hut was not right on the beach but tucked behind a dune, so it was not a surprise to find that we were hidden away. Initially I was disappointed not have an open view of the sea but, actually, it was perfect as the huts around us were not in use that day so we were able to set up camp in secluded bliss. The beach was 30 seconds through the dunes so no hardship there.
We had a fabulous day. Stuffed our picnic as soon as we arrived (sandwiches, sausage rolls, jam tarts, fruit cake, strawberries), walked the dog on the beach, read our books. The teens and tween ventured into the sea and hired a pedalo before returning to the hut to flop around languidly tattooing each other with henna.
When you take a day hire you can stay well into the evening and just post the key through the National Trust letterbox on your way out. Had the weather stayed warm and sultry we would have done this but the clouds drew un and we packed up at six-ish to head home. Next time I’ll stick a portable BBQ in the car and the day can roll into night over hot dogs and smores.
We arrived home both sunburnt and shivering which summed up our Very British Picnic perfectly.