Comic Con Portsmouth 2019

Comic Con Portsmouth 2019

Comic Con 4th - 5th May 2019

The sitemaps for Portsmouth Comic Con 2019 have been revealed.


Last year it cemented itself as the biggest Comic Con on the South Coast and this year it’s going far beyond that – just as these sitemaps will tell you!







To purchase tickets visit
Comic Con 2019

Easter at Fort Nelson Portsmouth


Events at Fort Nelson this Easter

Fort Nelson

Napoleonic Easter : Mid-week Easter holiday activities

Invasion! The French are coming

Come and discover what life was like in the Napoleonic period, around the turn of the 19th century, when French emperor Napoleon’s ambitions threatened invasion and war in Europe.

A varied programme of mid-week family-centred Easter holiday activities designed to entertain and enlighten all ages.

This Easter weekend, the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson invites visitors to come and discover what life was like at the turn of the 19th century when the French emperor Napoleon had his sights set on invasion!

Join us for an action-packed Easter weekend with themed activities for all the family including infantry drill displays and sword displays by costumed re-enactors, plus live firings of the British 6 pounder Bronze Smooth Bore Muzzle Loader gun and a replica 1810 Bloomfield 3 pounder at 11 am, 1 pm & 3.30 pm.

There will be tours, static displays of artillery including two artillery pocket launchers and a Napoleonic camp set up right here on our Parade ground.

Dates: 8 April – 12 April and 15 April – 19 April
Easter weekend: Saturday 20 April – Sunday 21 April

The Royal Armouries museum at Fort Nelson is home to one of the largest collections of artillery in the UK. Set within 19 acres, there is so much to see and explore including the ramparts, parade, tunnels, galleries and Café 1871. The Fort is open daily 10 am – 5 pm (April – October), and admission is free.

Hawk Conservancy Trust – Andover

Sea Eagle
Barn Owl In Flight

The Crest is located within the South Downs National Park ( and so you will have a chance to see a variety of wildlife while out and about; taking a walk up Winchester Hill, a stroll along the River Meon or a morning run along the disused Meon Railway Line.

If you however crave for a more formal day out, jam packed with stunning birds of prey, then look no further than The Hawk Conservancy in Andover.


About The Park

The Hawk Conservancy was founded as a zoo by local farmers Reg and Hilary Smith; and is set inside 22 acres of striking countryside. It is now a registered charity and the site of the National Bird of Prey Hospital, taking in injured birds of prey.

It’s a full day out with plenty of areas to explore, a huge variety of hawks and other birds of prey from all over the world, and hands on activities to take part in.

The grounds are level and easy to walk and so accessible to all, the keepers are very knowledgeable about their subjects and provide interesting, informative talks about the birds and their habitats. Dolores is a star turn in the vulture feeding talk!


The hawk conservancy trust in Andover has a ‘Valley of the Eagles’ display during the summer. During this event you can see up to 18 birds flying at one time; including Black Kites, Hooded Vultures, a Brahminy Kite, a Turkey Vulture and a Eurasian Griffon!

They also have a variety of other events, Mothers Day, Easter Holidays etc so be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page.

Recently added is a Children’s trial and play area and daily Children’s activities!

The list of daily events can be found here :


The displays vary season to season; but there is always a great variety of birds to see; bald eagles, griffon vultures, owls, hooded vultures, black kites, and many more. 

All the hard work at the Hawk Conservancy is to support their conservation efforts with birds of prey in UK and worldwide. As a result by visiting you are supporting this fantastic charity!

Feathers Restaurant

No need to pack a picnic! Onsite and reasonably priced I must mention the Feathers Restaurant; fabulous family friendly choice and reasonably priced.

Tickets and Prices

The Park is open every day (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and 8 January – 8 February 2019) and offers a full day out for all ages.   Open from 10am to 4pm in the winter and 5pm in Summer.

*Please let me know if you’re planning a visit and we will leave some discount coupons for you*

It’s a full day out so arrive early! Be sure to be entertained by their world-class flying displays throughout the day, and many other activities in between.

Children (under 4 years)FREE
Children (age 4 to 15)£10.45
Family (two adults and two children)£46.25
Extra child on a family ticket£9.20
Student/Senior (60+)£13.20

To buy tickets :

“Informative, entertaining, and fun (make sure you dress for the weather). The only way to really appreciate it is to visit”

– Trip Advisor

Droxford Village Community : Village bonfire & fireworks

Droxford Village Community : Village bonfire & fireworks

Fireworks & Bonfire

A repeat of last year’s successful event!  With just a bit more of everything.

  • Hot dogs, sausage in a bun
  • Mulled wine, beer, soft drinks
  • Sparklers, glowsticks

Donations of wood welcome from Saturday 3 November.

Event Location: Droxford Recreation Ground, Opposite Droxford Junior School, Droxford, Southampton, Hampshire, SO32 3QR

Saturday 10th November 2018
5:30pm – 7:00pm

BBC History at Winchester at Winchester Great Hall

Winchester Great Hall


October is just around the corner so book now for BBC History Magazine’s History Weekend which runs from 5th to 7th, showcasing the ex-capital’s Anglo-Saxon and medieval history. One of the venues is the stunning 13th-century Great Hall, which houses a famous replica of King Arthur’s round table

Over 30 talks, interactive Q&As and book signings are on offer from world-leading historians and authors including Lucy Worsley, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tracy Borman, Michael Wood and Diarmaid MacCulloch.

BBC History Magazine

To book phone 0871 620 4021 or go to

Vegetable Garden @ The Crest: April

Vegetable Garden @ The Crest: April

We’ve had a busy few weeks in the vegetable garden at The Crest!  The sun shone bright and warm last weekend and we decided it was time to crack open the rotavator and get the veggie patches ready for planting up .

The raspberry canes were cut back and generally given a good tidy, weeds have been pulled and the soil is ready for the sun to return (it was frosty this morning!), hopefully next week if we are to rely on the weather forecast.

Veggie Patches 

The Rhubarb required no encouragement, it’s coming up strong, bright and fast and will need making into a crumble sometime soon! vegtable patch

We love our garden at The Crest and hope you do too, it brings us an amazing amount of joy.

We plan on adding some wild flower seeds to the next few ‘Welcome Baskets’ and encourage our guests to sprinkle them around the flower beds and return for a future visit to witness their efforts 🙂

Happy Gardening, Jo x

Hoxton Bakehouse Winchester

Hoxton Bakehouse

A smashing new Bakery & Café n Winchester Hoxton Bakehouse

40 Jewry street Winchester SO238RY
Opens Weds- Sun 8-4pm
Friday open until 6pm
It’s bakery in Southampton supplies a number of delicatessens and restaurant chefs, including Rick Stein and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, as well as Angela Hartnett’s Lime Wood in London.
Their products sell out within hours at Winchester farmers market so this addition to Winchester is wonderful news! Find out more here :

Planning a Special Weekend Away with Friends & Family

Friends & Family Time

Weekend away with Friends & Family

Do you have a special occasion to celebrate with your friends and family coming up? Are you spread all over the country and find it hard to come together? Or are you already booked to come to The Crest to celebrate?  A 60th Birthday, a 40th Wedding  anniversary, or simply bringing your family together, parents, grandparents and grandchildren, all under one roof for the first time in a while?

The Crest has been a special place over the years for many people.  The way the property is laid out lends itself perfectly for folks to spend lots of time together, but well you know, still have that all important space to get away from each other!

Fabulous share spaces

We have three, yes three living rooms! One in the annex (this is typically where the grandparents hide out), and two in the house.  That arrangement makes for plenty of space for everyone to watch TV, read a book, and catch up with each other.

LoungeThe large lounge with the log burner gets all dec’d out in December with a large Christmas tree, and in the summer the French doors open right out to the garden.

The Annex

The annex is its own special little house, with a double bed, a walk in shower a kitchen and lounge, and even it’s own courtyard garden.   I think many visitors “just nip over to the annex for something”, sneak a quiet cup of coffee and take a few moments (hours) by themselves!

Annex Lounge

The garden

This is my favourite part of the house, it was why we bought the house to raise our family in.  I spent many hours in that garden, baby monitor on my hip, before we moved to the US and I miss it deeply.  Please have as much fun as you can there – I would LOVE to see some pictures if you do. There are two areas to gather and share a meal at, when the weather permits.  The large gas BBQ and the long English summer nights mean that this may be your most favourite area, just like me.

Perfect for Hide & Seek

We are all set to make your stay away with your family & friends as special as we can.  We love putting up our beautiful hand made Birthday Banner across the dining table ready for you to add the cake to the stand and friends around the table!

Birthday Banner

Eating Out

There are also some really great places to have a special meal booked during your stay.  Two of our favourites at the moment are the newly opened Hurdles Pub on the outskirts of Droxford, with Edd and the team producing some phenomenal Sunday roasts; and the The Shoe Exton which is a cosy modern country pub with its own pantry selling freshly baked bread, jams and pastries and has a garden (and ice cream shack) set right alongside the River Meon.


Don’t take our word for it. We have been doing this for over 6 years now, most of our reviews are tucked away in our lovely guest book, but lots of them are now online here and we are very proud of them 🙂


Come Stay!

We realise it’s not all about the property, this is an indulgent post in that respect.  There are so many  memorable days out to be had in the area and we will continue to cover these, we love helping you plan your time should you want help. Why not start reading here to give you some ideas of what to do?

Contact me to plan your home from home break away with your friends and family!

Jo x

February 1/2 Term at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Exploring Hampshire

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is putting on some fun activities this February 1/2 Term, which also coincides with Valentines DayHeart  on Wednesday.

From Lego building to scrapheap submarine making, there’s sure to be something for everyone  at this fantastic full day out in Portsmouth.

As an added bonus, should you purchase an annual pass during your visit, you will receive 20% off the normal annual ticket price!

Visit this link to view the full description of events : 10 Activities at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Read more about planning a day out at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard & other great local attractions on our blog page here.


Calling all Cricket Lovers – World Cup started today!


Cricket – The Rose Bowl (or Agnes Bowl)

With the grass growing at a phenomenal speed, blossom popping up and the hint of sunshine here and there Summer is finally coming into sight in the South Downs.

If you’re an avid cricket fan and want to get a fix while you’re down South or simply fancy a day out with a picnic and good company with something happening in the background, why not take a look at the fixture listing at our local big cricket stadium The Agnes Bowl.

Rose Bowl

The Hampshire Bowl will host ICC Cricket World Cup fixtures for the first time in 2019, with five matches taking place at the venue. 

In the past, the ground has held some fabulous international cricket matches, including one day internationals.  In addition there have been Two Twenty20 Internationals, as well as matches from the 2011 and 2014 Test with England playing Sri Lanka and India respectively.


Cricket Ball
Enjoy your time planning your fun day out!

South Downs Dark Skies Festival 2019

Dark Skies

Dark Skies 2019

There are 11 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, the UK has 4 – the Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Snowdonia and the South Downs National Parks.

To learn about the important of Dark Skies this interesting article by Graham Bryant FRAS, President of Hampshire Astronomical Group provides some fascinating background

The Importance of Dark Night Skies


Star party – 28th February

Join The South Downs National Park Authority on Thursday 28th February at Old Winchester Hill for an evening of stargazing (by kind permission of Natural England). Telescopes and expert astronomers from Hampshire Astronomical Group will be on hand to guide you round the night sky.

Please wear warm clothing suitable for the weather, and sturdy footwear. Bring a small hand torch, and binoculars if you have them. Booking essential.

Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve is two miles east of the A32 at the village of Warnford. The meeting point will be in the main car park. Detailed directions will be sent on booking.

Running Friday 15 February to Sunday 3 March. Over two weeks of cosmic fun with star parties, talks and family activities taking place across the South Downs National Park celebrating our wonderful dark night skies..

Dark Night Skies leaflet

To view more events :

Carfest South 2020


Did you go along to Carfest 2019, wasn’t it epic!? We went along for just the Saturday this year but are sorely tempted to make it a 2 day outing next year.

The annual motor and music festival, has announced their 2020 dates with tickets going on sale Wednesday 20th November at 8am, making this their 9th year.  The tickets go on sale for just 24 hours, which adds to the excitement leading up to this “UK’s best family festival of the Summer”.


This popular festival will be running from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th August 2020 and is held in the vast and beautiful setting of Laverstoke Park Farm. The Farm is owned and run by ex-racing driver and Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter and the Festival is the brain child of Chris Evans to benefit Children In Need.

2019 saw the successful introduction of 4 new worlds;

  • Kids Kingdom – where the kids rule
  • Eden – where you can look after yourself, others & the planet
  • Vintage – nostalgia area
  • Food…..speaks for itself!

Tickets start at £16 child and £67 Adult (under 6 go free) for the 1 day entry and £38/140 for 3 day entry.  Overnight camping options are also available – please note that dogs are not permitted unless a registered guide dog.  All profits from CarFest, including a guaranteed 25% of the sale of each ticket, will be donated to UK Children’s Charities.


The 2017 music lineup included The Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Seasick Steve, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Tom Odell, Busted & Rick Astley.  The 2018 dates included Texas, Alfie Bow & Michael Ball, The Feeling, Status Quo & Jools Holland amongst others.

2019 was an epic year; Beverly Knight, The Jacksons, Tony Christie, Judge Jules, Jules Holland, Texas, Tom Odell, The Human League & Kaiser Chiefs.

Here’s a brief video to give you an idea of what the event is all about:


Did I hear you say food?  The food element is quite something in itself with high quality stands, cookery demonstrations from the likes of James Martin, Nadiya Hussain and Adul Kochlar, and workshops by Laverstoke Park Farm.  Not to be forgotten is the booze, with expert sommelier Olly Smith making an appearance.

Not into great food and music?  Well there maybe something for you…..the car element of CARfest weekend. The Hill Climb Track Show, Car Club displays, Vintage Village, and the Sporting Bears Dream Rides should provide you with enough to keep you busy.

But where do I sleep? Located just outside the village of Overton, the festival is roughly 45 minutes away from The Crest; so why not add a little luxury to the festival weekend and come back to a stunning comfortable home after your full day out?

Here’s to Summer 2020!  Jo

Christmas Ice Skating Rinks

Ice skating Rink

Christmas Ice Skating Rink

Winchester Cathedral has had an ice skating rink for several years now in the middle of it’s Christmas market around the back of the stunning Winchester Cathedral.  The queue to skate is always on the long side but it’s in such a magical setting with all the traditional wooden chalets circling,  selling Christmas goodies and mulled wine, it’s well worth the wait.  More about Christmas in Winchester can be found here: Winchester Christmas 2017

Now Portsmouth has announced that from Saturday November 18th through to January 2nd that they too will have a 646 sq m rink – large enough for 215 skaters at one time.  This is great news for the city and will make visiting Pompey at this time of year even better.  Let’s cross our fingers and toes that they also introduce a Christmas market to surround it in the coming years rather than just the Christmas trees mentioned in the below article 🙂

Portsmouth News – Ice Skating Rink in Guildhall Square

Winchester Christmas Market opens Monday 20 November (opening ceremony is Thurs 23rd at 6:30pm) – Friday 22 December 2017. Open from 10am – 6pm Sunday – Wednesday and 10am – 7.30pm Thursday – Saturday.Celebrations at The Crest

December dates are still available at The Crest: Booking The Crest

Skate safe everyone! Jo

Chesapeake Mill – A Treasure Trove

Chesapeake Mill

Chesapeake Mill

Chesapeake Mill is quite literally a treasure trove, found in the neighbouring Chesapeake Millvillage of Wickham a cute village set around a traditional square of little shops and cafes.

Inside the old mill you will find a myriad of interesting items ranging from;

  • vintage furniture (large and small), jewellery and ornaments
  • soft furnishing
  • newly made handmade gifts

Several pieces of the pine bedroom furniture at The Crest came directly from the Mill, and I always squeeze in a visit when back ‘home’!

The Grade II listed building itself is of interest, previously a mill, and constructed in 1820 using the timbers of HMS Chesapeake, it’s well worth a visit.

“A veritable feast of all kinds of enticing bits and bobs and reasonably priced furniture.”

Once you’ve finished your vegan latte from the café inside head further into Wickham to ‘the lanes’ for more bargain hunting! (and cake)!

To read more visit Our top 10 List

Have a wonderful time mooching around the Mill!


New Atlas of British Hill Forts

Beautiful Countryside

An Atlas of British Hill Forts

Hill FortsHill forts make a fantastic destination for a walk, with of without a dog or if you’re feeling energetic a fun. Their location atop some of the most stunning hills provide spectacular views, often than not to a Beacon Hill and the closest major City, and a glimpse into a distant past.

A research team funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has spent the last four years sifting and recording information on all the hill forts identified across Britain and Ireland, and from that data has launched an online atlas of all the forts reaching its criteria.

The project has resulted in well over 4000 confirmed and possible hill forts, some large and well known and others pretty much hidden away. While some of the monuments are on private land and would require the landowner’s permission to visit, many are crossed by public footpaths or are on ‘open access’ land, the nearest one to The Crest is found on Old Winchester Hill accessed from Exton (click here for walk details).

The details of each fort are available on a public website using the latest mapping technology. It takes a little while to load but it’s worth it

Take some water, a snack and a blanket to sit an enjoy the view once you’ve reached the top!

Take some photos and tag The Crest.

Have fun, Jo

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