For the first proper weekend of the new year we fancied a trip to somewhere we hadn't been before.
I recalled a conversation with my sister from early December and suggested Andover to G as our destination.
Easily accessible by train, a little heritage trail around the city centre with some local points of interest to look out for, a handful of shops so S could possibly spend some Christmas money.
Let me say we did have a lovely day out.
We said S could bring a friend along to keep her company and the girls kept each other amused and we had a nice wander.
But we wouldn't go back.
If I were giving Andover a school report I would say, it has potential, but could do better.
We caught the train from one of our local stations and I spotted mistletoe growing in one of the trees, bit late for this festive season, but always a treat to see.
The train station is a short walk from the town centre and to get there we had to walk through an underpass which had art works of various record breaking cars painted on the walls. I don't know what the connection with the area is.
The underpass led out on to some very bland boxy brown buildings. I think one is the college and another is an arts centre. The river Anton flows through Andover and past this complex and is home to plenty of ducks and moorhens.
The heritage trail I found started at the bottom of the town and we found ourselves at the top so we did it in reverse which didn't matter in the least.
This is St Mary's church completed in 1856 and is made of knapped flint and Caen stone.
Almhouses built in 1686.
Not on the heritage trail but it caught our attention, a machine outside the post office where once upon a time a book of stamps could be purchased for 50p!
The Norman Arch is the only surviving section of the Andover Church, built after a fire in 1141.
Chantry Cottage wasn't always on this spot by the church, this 16th century building was moved from nearby Chantry Street. I'd love to have a peek inside.
Information from the trail guide........The Angel Inn was, for many years, the largest and most prominent inn. It was rebuilt after the great fire in 1435 and remains one of the most important timber frame buildings in Hampshire. It used to be called College Inn because it was owned by Winchester College and the carpenter who constructed its impressive frame also built Eton College. The Angel Inn has seen some illustrious visitors including King John, Edward I, Edward II, Henry VII, Catherine of Aragon and James II, fleeing from William of Orange.
We were going to go here for some lunch, but a sign outside said 'no food today'. We tried the Wetherspoons, their fryers were broken so they only had a small menu available, another pub did no food at all. We found one which was selling food but it was so busy and there was no seat to be had.
The Georgian guildhall was built in 1825 and I bet in all it's Christmas finery it looked very elegant.
The Andover time ring was a beautifully colourful circular mosaic which depicts the town's history from Roman to Victorian times. Unfortunately part of it was covered by some market stalls so we couldn't enjoy it in it's entirety.
In the 10th century, the Vikings sailed their longboats up as far as Longstock on the River Test and then laid waste to the surrounding countryside. This Viking work of art on the River Anton is a nod to this part of history.
The thing is the look is rather spoiled by those huge rubbish bins behind it.
The Domesday book listed 6 mills in Andover and this one which was dates from 1764 was grinding flour up until the 1960s.
I love this piece of artwork next to the mill. We only saw it because we walked down by the side of the mill on the way back to the station, it wasn't included on the trail which I thought was a real shame.
I only spotted this clock on the platform as we were waiting for the train to pull in. I just had time to whip out my camera and take a quick snap but I couldn't see any information about it.
Prior to our visit I was online looking to glean some info about Andover I read the same thing a couple of times 'Andover will always remain a place to meet and to do business'. As long as you didn't want to have a business lunch in a pub! I'd recommend you met and did your business in Salisbury a few more miles down the road.
It felt a bit shabby in some places and certainly not in a chic way. Like I say we did have a nice day out but we won't be going back any time soon.
A couple of purchases were made. We found a charity shop which was having a pound sale and here a dress for S was found and also a couple of things for me. I've decided I'm going to do a round up at the end of each month of any charity shop purchases, just so I can keep an eye on my spending and see what I've bought.
One thing I will share now are these 2 shopping bags. They were reduced to a pound each in The Works and will be ideal gifts for my mum and sister when I'm putting their advent swaps together for this December.