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Amble along in Hamble village.

THEY rejoiced in names like Misty Lady, Cloud Nine, Bojangles and Mistress Quickly of Windsor and ranged from single-masted sailing dinghies to sleak, ocean-going motor yachts.

As we chugged up the River Hamble in Hampshire on a pounds 3.50-a-head trip, we were soon engulfed in 3,000 vessels, worth - we were told in reverential tones - a cool pounds 100 million.

At times, there were so many craft it was difficult to tell the river from the massive maze of moorings.

But as the sun glistened off the water, it was easy to see why the TV soap Howard's Way was set in and around Hamble.

Indeed, the highlight of our 40-minute cruise was a slow chug around Old Burlesdon to see the reaife boatyard where the series was set - it's actually called Elephant Boatyard - and the waterside Jolly Sailor pub where the character wound down.

The village of Hamble was remarkably quiet, especially for a Bank Holiday weekend. I suppose most of the visitors were on board their boats, leaving only us landlubbers ashore.

So we had plenty of space to amble along the promenade and pop into The Bugle for a lunch-time drink in the beer garden.

That night we returned to the pub for a delicious meal in the first-floor restaurant which has panoramic views across the river.

A short walk through Hamble Common (well sign-posted from the church) took us to Hamble Point, where the river joins Southampton Water.

Hamble lies between Southampton and Portsmouth and via the M40, A34, M3 and M27 can be reached from Birmingham in less than three hours.

For those with itchy feet, the two nearby cities have big-scale attractions while the New Forest and the cathedral city of Winchester are close at hand.

But for our four-day visit, we were just lazing around looking at others messing about on boats.

We stayed at Riverside Park in a three-bedroomed timber lodge with all mod cons including shower room with a loo; another WC and hand basin; colour TV; video; even dishwasher.

The Hoseasons accommodation - on a tranquil park five minutes' drive from Hamble - costs pounds 230 to pounds 490 per week, depending on season. Short breaks are available.

FACT BOX ON HAMBLE

For more details: Hoseasons Holidays Ltd, Sunway House, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR32 2LW. Telephone: 01 502 500 500.

Itchen & Hamble Valley Tourism, Tourist Information Centre, The Point, Town Hall Centre, Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire, SO50 9DE. Telephone: 01703 641261.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 5, 1998
Words:409
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