Countyfile: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

It's all wings, wheels, water and walks along the South Coast
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The Independent Travel

Southampton celebrates its seafaring history this Tuesday with the opening of SeaCity Museum (023-8083 3007;; admission £8.50). It's a timely launch, 100 years to the day when Titanic set sail from the Hampshire port, and the connection is explored with exhibits including an interactive scale model of the ship, while other displays tell the story of Southampton's important maritime heritage. Later this year, the new Mary Rose Museum (023-9281 2931; is set to open in nearby Portsmouth, in tandem with the final stage of the ship's hull restoration.

* Fifty vehicles from the James Bond movies will be on show at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu (01590 612345;; admission from £17.10) until December to mark half a century of film-making about the super-spy.

* If you're serious about transport, head to the Farnborough International Airshow (0844 858 6752;; admission £35 in advance), which takes off on 14 and 15 July. Aerobatic displays will fill the sky, while on the ground pilots and crew will be on hand to show you around vintage and modern aircraft.

* Spring is the subject of celebration at Exbury Gardens (023-8089 1203;; admission £12.50) in the New Forest. The Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, and rare trees and shrubs have just reached full bloom, a moment marked with a special display of botanical art, "Four Seasons Art Exhibition", which runs until 10 June at the garden's Five Arrows Gallery.

* Across the Solent, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival (01983 823070;; various prices) sets off from 5-20 May. The island-wide programme includes guided and self-guided walks. Highlights include the Fossil Hunting Guided Tour, which follows in the footprints of dinosaurs, and the Chabydis Passage, a race against the tide. Or you could sign up for the sponsored Firewalk – a 20ft dash across red-hot wood embers.

* Back on the mainland, the spotlight falls on Alresford on 20 May, when the Alresford Watercress Festival ( celebrates the latest crop of the super-food for which the town is renowned.

* And you've just time to catch the end of the Lego Mania exhibition at Milestones Museum (01256 477766;; family of four £25) in Basingstoke, which ends next Sunday 15 April.

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