Some time ago, I had the pleasure of joining a Mark Spittles’ group run through the New Forest. It was one of those memorable rides and my introduction to exploring the ancient commons and medieval woodland with the wild ponies and cattle. The contribution made by the 12 airfields is marked by the Airfield Memorial at Holmsley, and at Ashley Walk there are the remains of the 5,000 acre bombing range where Barnes Wallace tested his famous Dambuster bouncing bomb, and the 22,000lb Grand Slam earthquake weapon for penetrating the German U boat pens. The Minstead Village Shop and Tea Room sits between Lyndhurst and the A31 across the village green from the Trusty Servant pub and small village car park. You are assured of a warm welcome as you enter this eclectic tearoom with its tasteful combination of lounge, café, and shop serving the local  community; it was the perfect place to stop for lunch and enjoy a pot of tea. In addition to a printed menu there was a ‘specials’ board of pies, soup, chilli bowl and apple pie plus cakes and lite bites. My locally produced Hunts Farm sausage on a bed of hot buttered sour dough would not have been out of place on Master Chef. The number of tables inside and out is limited so please ring ahead for groups greater than four. For more details go to Minstead Village Shop

Bryan Symons