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Hot, hot, hot! Super summer newsflash

Read all about it! From Zoe's New Forest weekend to Ant's celeb wedding, here's all the latest in Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Ice cream boats and mega cruise ships

Virgin cruise ship Scarlet Lady Southampton

Summer’s been hotting up on Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – on land and in the water. Almost as exciting as hailing a Mr. Whippy boat on a scorching hot afternoon docked in Osbourne Bay, Muddy sailed past an epic new Virgin cruise ship. The adults-only Scarlet Lady is largest liner ever to dock in Portsmouth and has just set sail on her inaugural voyage. Fancy hopping on board yourself? Splurge on a suite for a seat at Richard’s exclusive Rooftop lounge. You can even get a lasting memento of the trip at the err, onboard tattoo parlour…

P&O Iona onboard gin distillery cruise ships southampton Hampshire
Pic: Alun Callender for P&O Cruises 

Also new on the cruise scene, P&O Iona had her all-star launch in Southampton this May. (Musical Director Gary Barlow performed, natch). Reason to board? A pretty sweet looking infinity pool. Quirkiest feature? An on-board craft gin distillery!

Zoe’s New Forest weekender

Pic: Stephen Lees, @galleryonthecobbles

Where better for an A-list break than a secluded Lake Cabin at the lovely Limewood Hotel? Following in the footsteps of sexy Fred Siriex (who caused a stampede in the Forest after his Remarkable Places to Eat show), Zoe Ball has also been in town. On her Insta, she posted: “lush weekend escape to @limewoodhotel for best breakfasts, lobster spaghetti, Angela’s tiramisu, mocktails & duck watch from lake cabin.” The DJ lunched at the Elderflower restaurant in Lymington and visited the (clearly delighted) Gallery on the Cobbles.

Ainsley’s loving the lavender

Lavender Fields Selbourne Ainsley Harriott
Pic: The Lavender Fields Selbourne

Speaking of celebs having a happy time in Hampshire this summer, jolly TV chef Ainsley Harriott has also been spotted having fun. Described as a “lovely chap” by his hosts, he was on location filming a new TV show at the gorgeous Lavender Fields at Selbourne, East Hampshire (above). And of course, tasting a few locally-made lavender foodie treats… Yum.

Hitched in Hants – Ant McPartlin’s All-Star Wedding

Heckfield Place Long Bedroom
Heckfield Place’s Long Bedroom

No surprises that the stars were out in force for this celeb Hampshire wedding. When Ant McPartlin married Anne-Marie Corbett at the weekend, he did it in front of an all-star guest list that included Phillip Schofield, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Frank and Christine Lampard, Patrick Kielty, Cat Deeley and (of course) – Dec! After the ceremony, the wedding party decamped to the gorgeous Georgian hotel, Heckfield Place, for a super-stylish reception. And the hosts shouted 100 lucky guests a two-night stay. All the bedrooms here are superb (and oh – the views!), but we suspect Ant and Anne-Marie might have plumped for the stunning Long Room (above).

Hot new openings

The WellHouse Lainston House Hotel Winchester

So hot it’s literally smoking, we’re super excited about the new Wellhouse restaurant (above). You’ll find it in the rustic-luxe countryside surroundings of the lovely Lainston Hotel, near Winchester.

Expect woodfired cooking and home grown produce combined to make sensational seasonal dishes like Cedar plank seared Chalk Stream trout, fennel, pak choi, honey & ginger. Or how about a platter of Tuscan grilled prime Aberdeen Angus porterhouse steak, apple oak smoked salt? Sounds like a bit of us…

Speaking of hot new openings, look out too for Restaurant 1865, an elegant fine-dining option at the grand, Edwardian Queens Hotel in Portsmouth. Oh, and there’s goodies galore at the new Basil Leaf Deli in Winchester – and the gorgeously cosy Cocky Anchor micropub (with beer garden) is new in Romsey.

In Basingstoke, brand spanking new bar and café Garbardine have literally just opened their doors (if you’re wondering about the name, it’s all about fabric and a Thomas Burberry connection…). And what’s that I spy on Petersfield High Street? Ruby and Monty’s – a new indie bar and restaurant poised to open. We’ll report back forthwith…

On the Island, we’re hearing good things too about Cook + Baker. The new family run café and bakery in Godshill, near Ventnor, has been converted from a museum by Roger and Lisa, former owners of the nearby Taveners pub. Locals and staycationers are raving about it.

The Living Room Cinema

Living Room Cinema Liphook Hampshire

Big news in Liphook with the impending launch of a brand new independent 60-seat cinema. Work is currently underway to transform the former Anchor garage – originally built as a car showroom – into The Living Room Cinema, with an expected launch in early 2022. As well as showing films in intimate surroundings, there’ll be a space for socialising over coffee or cocktails. Roll on 2022 – we can’t wait!

Tim goes Off the Rails

Off the rails External image

And finally… it’s always nice when famous faces turn out to be good sorts in real life too, eh? Over on the Island, TV antiques presenter Tim Wonnacott proved to be just that. He happened to pop out to the brilliant Off the Rails café (above) in Yarmouth for lunch – at the same time as yours truly. Strolling back up the hill to town at the same time too, he was treated to a hit-list of infant school summer concert songs that the mudlet was singing with gusto as she skipped along. Very sweetly, he complimented her on her (rather enthusiastic) performance. Aww.

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