The urge to return to scenes of childhood adventures was too strong. As I veered off towards Hengistbury Head, images of yesteryear flick'r'd through my mind like a slideshow set to fast.
Sure, I'd returned a few times since those family holidays took place but, today, I had just one ambition: to ride the iconic 'Noddy Train' to the beach.
It was the closest thing to Swallows and Amazons in my life.
I remember clearly the adventures we all had...
Hands clasped weathered wood as we dragged the rowing boat through shallow water. The momentum gathers, we scramble in, and feet find a steady anchor and share the sandy puddle with a lonely crab. We stretch forward, oars creak, and drives us on to explore the estuary, eels and all.
We had our own Hundred Acre Wood too, stretching from the path that leads to the beach and on through the woods that nestle around Hengistbury Head. A winding track passes Roman remains, ancient gnarled trees and adders that weave their way through the bracken, just as the path weaves its way back to the main 'Noddy' train pickup point for the beach.
Protected from the sea by the concrete barriers that withstood storms far greater in my memory than they surely ever were, the family chalet, 'Gotacot' (it was a proud statement that our chalet was big enough to have one), remains today the same shade of blue it always was. Only the layers of fading paint give away the secrets of this magical place.
And I sat peacefully on soft sand, reflecting on those halcyon days as the sun burst through dark clouds and illuminated once again the innocence of younger years. Refreshed and centred, I left this place.