10 reasons to love Bournemouth
PUBLISHED: 15:46 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:53 26 June 2018
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From supper on the beach to a vibrant live music scene, Kate Shaw reveals why her family love living in this award-winning coastal town
1. The award-winning beaches
We are totally spoilt for choice with our award-winning beaches. Trip Advisor recently named Bournemouth as the UK’s Best Beach in their Travellers’ Choice Awards, as well as the fifth best in Europe. This year environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy revealed England’s best beaches which included 18 accolades for Bournemouth and Poole. Bournemouth’s Blue Flag beaches are Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fishermans Walk and Southbourne.
Each beach has a distinct vibe, and as locals we enjoy visiting different beaches at different times of the year. Our firm favourite is Alum Chine where we often enjoy a cheeky glass of wine on Vesuvios’ terrace after a lovely stroll along the beach.
2. Relaxing in gorgeous beach retreats
Fancy a weekend break with a difference? A short stay at Bournemouth Beach Lodges comes with stunning coastal views and miles of golden sands, in fact you can roll out of bed and be in the sea in moments. Opened in 2017, the 15 beachside lodges located between Boscombe Pier and Southbourne Beach have been grabbing the attention of locals as well as visitors. The cleverly designed living space (suitable for up to four people) offers luxury living with the sound of the surf in the background. Each lodge has a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom, living area (with wi-fi) and comfy beds.
Whether you’re looking for a family bucket and spade holiday, or time with friends at a seaside bolthole with a deck where you can enjoy your sundowners – these luxury lodges offer a weekend break with difference.
Prices start from £275 for a four-day winter break.
3. Exploring Bournemouth by Bike
The promenade is an ideal location for a flat bike ride with coastal views. We regularly head along it to Hengistbury Head, or in the other direction towards Sandbanks and then take the chain ferry to the Purbecks. There’s no shortage of lovely places to stop for a coffee or cool drink, but care needs to be taken when the promenade is busy, although it’s a safe car-free place to cycle for families and to enjoy the seven sandy miles of beach. I’ve recently bought an electric bike (much to the scorn of my two teenage sons!), and I regularly use it to travel to work meetings in town. There are a few places to hire bikes in Bournemouth, a good central option is Kool Cycle Hire on the West Cliff.
4. Bournemouth’s secret history
Even if you think that you know Bournemouth, you’ll be amazed at what you learn on a walking tour lead by Hattie Miles. The freelance photo journalist shares her passion for local history, revealing the areas lesser known stories, through a dozen or so Walkingtalks. These include ‘Hidden Secrets of Bournemouth’, ‘Wonderful Westbourne’, the ‘Darker side of the East Cliff’, ‘History and Horrors: a Boscombe Journey’, ‘Bournemouth crime and the underworld’ and ‘Romance & scandal in Bournemouth’ and on the cards for this summer is a new walk in Southbourne.
Most walks are circular, group sizes usually range from 8 – 15 people, and start and finish at a lovely café or hotel – ideal for a light lunch or cream tea. You can’t help but be inspired by Hattie’s genuine enthusiasm for her town.
Find out more at her website walkingtalks.wordpress.com.
5. Live music at the Madding Crowd
Talk of the town currently is the arrival of Madding Crowd. The brand new live music venue, located in Bournemouth Square, will open its doors in July. This will be a ‘must visit’ venue according to popular music publicist Suzie Wheeler. “From established acts to emerging bands heading for the mainstream the Madding Crowd will have live music every night from 5pm. Sundays and mid-week nights music fans can enjoy a selection of genres including a nostalgic Jive/Swing night and relaxing Jazz ensembles, and on Saturdays there is free admission to a live band party night. There will also be occasional ticketed events for well-known acts from the UK touring circuit. Find more at maddingcrowd.club.
From Friday 13 July until Monday 27 August Summer Live will bring toe-tapping, finger-clicking live music to Bournemouth Square from 5pm each day. Now in its fifth year, the annual free music celebration has over 100 music performances lined-up for this summer ranging from acoustics acts and choirs to DJs.
6. Bournemouth’s Soho Quarter
The Triangle, dubbed Bournemouth’s ‘Soho Quarter’, is an increasingly hip area of central Bournemouth which is becoming renowned for its eclectic mix of independent bars and restaurants. Banque and Bohem on Poole Hill is a fine example of this. Opened just six months ago, this cocktail bar and restaurant is located in an impressive building which was once a bank. The owners have decorated it with a Gallic romantic twist, including five individually-themed private function rooms.
Against this stylish backdrop the chef showcases locally-sourced organic produce on their French-inspired menu, which also includes a very tempting lunch/brunch option.
We recently flexed our taste buds over their baked camembert with artisan breads and succulent pan fried king prawns and chorizo before moving onto seasonal main courses of wild garlic, spring pea and asparagus risotto and a spanking fresh fish medley with a garlic, white wine, cherry tomato and caper liquor. The Parisian-born restaurant manager Annabelle gets to know many of her guests by name, which makes the whole dining experience particularly pleasurable. Up for some entertainment later on? Live music with DJ’s and bands starts from 10.30pm until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out their themed nights such as Wine Club Wednesdays, Pie Nights and Trivial Tuesdays. More at banqueandbohem.co.uk
Other great dining options in The Triangle include family-run Spanish tapas bar Lolas, Mexican-themed Ojo Rojo, and the award-winning Koh Thai which offers tapas-style authentic Thai cuisine. Flirt Café is great for brunch, and the legendary Mad Cucumber is absolute vegan heaven. Another brilliant independent enterprise is Southbourne Ales headed up by award-winning brewer Jennifer Tingay. They’ve set up shop in the Poole Hill Brewery (daily tours from 12pm to 4pm southbourneales.poolehillbrewery.com) which is a popular place to hang out, as is Canvas Loft Bar if you are more inclined towards cocktails. There are too many great places to mention here, so I would suggest having a wander around and finding out what calls to you.
7. Shake & Stir in Southbourne
Love vintage? Love cocktails? Then Lindy Hop your way to Southbourne’s Shake and Stir Vintage Festival. Now in its sixth year, this award-winning weekend offers a packed programme of free events including live music, dance lessons, DJ sets, craft tents, fashion show, cocktail competition, a Northern Soul caravan, and classic car and motorbike displays.
Taking place from Friday 29 June to Sunday 1 July, music is focused predominantly on hit tunes from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s. This year’s line-up includes Jesse Ray (as seen on Jools Holland), Bournemouth’s very own Ray Dorset of Mungo ‘In the Summertime’ Jerry, Miss Annie, Junco Shakers and Retro Rita. It’s a fabulous community event that the enthusiastic team of locals who run it should be very proud of.
Visit originalshakeandstir.co.uk for the full event programme.
8. Wonderful Westbourne
We’re huge fans of Westbourne. Situated approximately a mile west of the town centre, this Bournemouth ‘urban village’ provides a brilliant mix of quirky, unique and independent bars, restaurants and shops. I always enjoy a leisurely mooch around Westbourne, it has a real community feel and there’s definitely a buzz there.
There are some excellent eating out options, and lots of bars and restaurants have special deals during the working week. For example, Westbourne Grill House on Poole Road, which has a great reputation for fresh local produce, does 2-4-1 on main courses Monday – Wednesday, and Camden Bar & Kitchen on Seamoor Road and The Libertine on Alumhurst Road have a weekly steak night deal. There are lots of quiz nights too – a particular favourite of ours is the Monday night one at Renoufs on Poole Road with the option to win wine and cheese.
Joining the friendly (and busy) Westbourne Facebook page (facebook.com/Westbourne) is a good way of keeping in touch with the local community and you can find out about special events and offers. They recently ran a competition to win free fish and chips for two, for every week for a year at Chez Freds!
9. Supper on the Beach
What I really cherish about where we live is the outdoor lifestyle that we lead here. On warm summer evenings after work we often take our family time onto the beach. Along with other locals we arrive armed with disposable barbecues and beach bags packed with the makings of supper. At 6pm, when you are permitted to light up, the delicious smell of barbecues wafts across the golden sands. It does make me feel rather smug about living in Bournemouth!
10. Surf school and beachside yoga
Fancy trying out some of Bournemouth’s many beach activities? Sorted Surf School based at Boscombe Undercliff, next to Urban Beach, can get you out on the water in one of their hireable kayaks, stand-up paddle boards or surf boards – prices start from just £10.Lessons for all skill levels are also available – either in groups or one-to-one sessions (sortedsurfshop.co.uk 01202 300668). Particularly popular to hire is their 17 foot stand-up paddle board, which can accommodate up to eight people - ideal for friends wanting to have fun on the water.
For something a little more tranquil in the summer there are beachside yoga classes run by an enthusiastic local yoga teacher (call the Sorted Surf School to book a slot for the yoga). It’s a brilliant way to get fit and what better location than on one of Bournemouth’s beaches!