Poole, its a beautiful place...... Well that's what the guide books say and I have to agree it really is a beautiful place . For anyone not familiar with the area, Poole is a large town situated on the south coast of England in the county of Dorset. It adjoins the larger town of Bournemouth and is famous for being the second largest natural harbour in the world. Poole is a fishing port and has been developed into a busy commercial port with daily cross channel freight and passenger services. However it has retained its beautiful seascapes and numerous coastal walks, which are claimed to be amongst the best in Britain. The very quaint Old Quay is the heart of Poole Old Town. It is steeped in history and folklore, in the streets immediately behind the Quayside you can still see many 17th and 18th century houses originally built by rich sea merchants. One Old Town hotel which is particularly famous for being haunted is the Crown Hotel, allegedly it is the most haunted inn in Dorset and the TV show Most Haunted has even filmed there. It is supposed to be haunted by the sound of children playing, legend has it that conjoined twins were kept locked in the stable block and it is their spirit which haunts the building?!! There are lots of things to do along Poole quay whatever the weather, it's a real mixture of attractions, something for everyone in fact. I would say it's a real must for any maritime enthusiast as it has a very rich and varied maritime heritage. The Waterfront Museum is free and has had a £750,000 redevelopment so its gory smugglers tales are now even more appealing! There are 7 pubs on the Quay, Many provide free evening entertainment in the form of live bands, quiz nights and karaoke. Whatever you are looking for, whether it's a morning coffee and a croissant , a light lunch, afternoon tea , a cocktail, a beer or a glass of wine and fine dining, you'll be catered for by one of the café's or restaurants situated on the quayside. Taking a leisurely stroll along the harbour wall you are almost guaranteed to encounter crab liners, powerboats and fishing boats. Or you could take the Poole Cockle Trail (available from the Poole Welcome Centre) and take yourself on a self-guided tour of Poole, its history and curiosities. The Quay really comes alive in the Summer, it's a great place to be late afternoon as the sun sets , on a Friday and Saturday evening there is often live music outside or why not watch the free firework display on a Thursday from the end of May and throughout June & July.
There are so many fantastic attractions in Poole, I will concentrate on just one of my favourites - Compton Acres. Compton Acres is made up of themed gardens and my favourite is the Japanese Garden with its coy pond and Japanese sculptures. I would recommend taking a picnic and enjoying the fantastic views of Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills from the gardens. Although, if the weather is poor, there are huts dotted about the gardens which you can picnic in, which is very cozy when it's raining! Alternatively, there is a cafe which I hear is good, although I haven't eaten there. Throughout the December 2008 I visited Compton Acres and enjoyed mulled wine, candles in the gardens and carol signing. It really was special! Not to be missed if you're in the area next Christmas! Now for the downside - the entry price. At around £8.00 per adult (from memory) for entry into the gardens, it is somewhat pricey. On the plus side, there is plenty of parking which is included in the entry price. I'm told that there is an excellent children's area at Compton Acres, but not having children I can't give you my word on that! Finally, one thing to remember - don't forget to take your camera!