Well it was spring
half term again and we were off to the Isle
of Wight, which lies just off the coast at Southampton in the U.K.
We were about to test out our new Fiat Multipla which seats 6 people
| I had rented a Hoseasons 'Godshill'
Caravan at Gurnard
Pines Holiday village, Cowes and the twins would be taking a
friend each. Dan had decided to stay at home and 'dog sit'. The
caravan was really more of a permanent home on wheels. It was very
basic with no frills, but it sufficed. I was really happy to find out
that it had an electric fire in the main lounge as the weather was
very windy and cold while we were there. The rain was also very heavy
so we were always permanently cold and wet. Ah well, the joys of an
| Cowes is a lovely old town but we would
not be there for the famous 'Cowes Week' which is a fabulous regatta,
but perhaps it was just as well. The captain was at home anyway.
evening we drove down to the harbour front and looked for a nice place
to eat. We found a great Italian restaurant in the town which served
fabulous pizzas! But before eating we took a few snaps of the
waterfront. Here are the boys, just before we lost the light.
town of Cowes is split into two parts as it is a harbour. Most of the
'Red Funnel' ferries go across to the mainland from here so we were
well placed for the return journey. It becomes very lively on Cowes
week but off season its just like any other seaside town, quiet! There
is a smaller ferry that takes you from East Cowes across to Cowes and
we tried this once, but you can only fit on about six cars so for the
most part we drove around the headland which only takes about fifteen
drive takes you past the gates of Osborne House which used to be Queen
Victoria's favourite residence. She came here as often as she could
during her reign which was probably a lot as she reigned for a very
long time. In total, the Isle of Wight only covers 147 square miles
but we must have driven all those while we stayed here, so we saw a
lot of Osborne House. The drive also takes you past Parkhurst Prison
where notorious criminals like Ronnie Kray were locked up!
| When I was a lot younger we used
to come to the I.O.W. every year with the Girls Brigade to a place called
Bembridge whose harbour is shown here. These were camping holiday's and probably the first time I was
away from home for a week long stretch. I remember having a lot of fun and
doing lots of different things, but then I was with my peers and not
my parents so that could have had something to do with it. Robyn and
Ben would be bringing Sophie and Matt along for company so perhaps this
half term would see me finishing that novel I have been reading for
such a long time!
The only surviving windmill on the
Island as I remember is at Bembridge. It dates from 1700 and was last used in 1913. Much of its
original wooden machinery is still in place and is now in the care of
the National Trust. There are spectacular views from here. This
Windmill was built in 1700 from Island stone, and was used to produce
flour and animal feed at around 6000 kilos per day. It was worked by
two people, a man and a boy, who laboured for 15 hours each day. The
dust from the grain caused frequent chest-related illnesses.
Much of the foodstuffs produced were exported, and convict ships would
stock up with grain on their way to Australia, the mill being the last
thing in England that the convicts would see. Another novel idea at
Bembridge is the Zambezi Tearooms which is an actual boat moored in
the harbour. You are taken across to have your cream tea and then
taken back to shore again!
miserable cold, wet day we decided to take a trip to Carisbrooke
Castle. Needless to say it was not the best of days to walk around the
battlements, but I am glad we did as the tour guide was great, really
knowledgeable. Apparently King Charles I was imprisoned here
before being taken to London for trial and execution. We took the same
walk around the battlements that he did all those years ago for his
morning exercise. You can also still see the bowling green created for his
amusement in the outer bailey and the window through which he once
tried to escape. Until 1944 the castle was the Governor's official
residence. It really is a 'must see' if ever you go across to the
I.O.W. The castle stands on a high ridge about two miles
south-west of Newport. Although the site is Saxon in origin, the castle
Norman. Two medieval wells on which the castle depended are still to
be seen; one in the massive keep, the other in the 16th-century
well-house where you can still see donkeys turning the wheel to
bring up the buckets of water.
water-colour, which can be found in the British Museum was painted by
the artist Turner
in 1828. It shows Carisbrooke Castle in a style was very popular
during the Victorian era.
had come to the I.O.W. to paint this picture of ships in Cowes harbour
the previous year and fell in love with this tiny island.
also have a Museum in the castle grounds so it wasn't all outside
work! I remember Sophie getting very wet and cold on that day but
no-one was taking any pictures! The Museum was located in the
Governor's House which was, for more than 20 years, occupied by
Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria. The museum
illustrates the history of the castle and the Isle of Wight.
Archaeological finds, Civil War armour and objects connected with
Charles l's imprisonment are displayed in the lower gallery. The upper
gallery features 'A Century of Collecting', an exhibition arranged to
mark the museum's centenary in the summer of 1998.
restaurant at our holiday village was called 'The Chart Room' and we
ate there on a few occasions. It was very good food and we were waited
on by some very nice young French waiters as I recall!
| Here we all are after a memorable meal. I guess one of the waiters
must have taken the picture.
day we went into the town of Brading to visit the Wax Works. This was
a lot of fun as you can tell by the pictures below. It was situated in
a very old Tudor style house and had many rooms and interesting
displays. They had one section that was all to do with witches and
witchcraft. Very gruesome, a bit like the London Dungeon.
The whole town of Brading was very old and very
picturesque and the Red Lion local pub also served a great lunch which was a
bonus, especially when you have four hungry teenagers to feed. This
picture shows the Wax Works and the town Church and stocks behind. There
is also the original 'bull ring'. This large cast iron ring is set in
the middle of the High Street and was used for the barbaric sport of
bull baiting. There is an old custom that the Island's governor paid
£5 for a bull, but once killed, the meat would be given to the poor.
There was one area in the Wax works where you could pose for a picture
under an axe man. Here is Robyn doing just that. In the small shop
there they sold things like candles, skeletons that glowed in the dark
and other such memorabilia that intrigue the young.
had parked close to a very old church in Brading so we went inside to
have a look. It was Norman (I think) and it had some very old tombstones
with effigies on the top. They were very colourful. The one shown here
is strange as the figure is lying on its side and not on its back as is
the usual pose.
good place to visit is Needles Point at Alum Chine. They have a great
selection of rock shops (the real kind not the ones you suck) and there
is a small amusement area; but best of all is the chair-lift that takes
you down to the beach where you can collect different coloured sand. If
you don't have a head for heights there is an area at the top where the
sand has already been collected for you and you can make your own sand
souvenir. Here are Robyn and Sophie going down in the chair-lift. I was
right behind them in a chair all to myself but I was very conscious of
not dropping anything like camera or wallet as it is a long way down and
you can actually see things that other people have dropped which are irretrievable!
are coming up again. We visited the rock shop and saw men 'glassblowing'
in the small area behind the premises. It was about the hottest place on
the island that afternoon as I recall. The weather had not been too kind
to us for the whole time we had been there, but at least on this day the
rain had held off enough for the chair-lift to be in operation, which
was why we had gone there in the first place.
is Ben having some fun with a rope-ladder later on in the afternoon. We
had stayed to have lunch and make our own sand souvenirs but then the
amusements beckoned. This one was fun to watch because it looked so
simple yet no-one climbed it successfully that afternoon, not even Ben.
This is an
aerial view of the Needles Point and Alum Bay. As you can see the beach
can only be reached by the chair-lift. This is probably the best way to
see this area, by air. You don't really get a sense of how high up you
are until the chair-lift drops over the edge and then you hope that the
person next to you does not decide to rock the chair!
place we visited was Ventnor, which faces France and is probably the
best kept secret on the I.O.W. This picture shows the walk down to the
beach called 'The Cascade'. It really is very different here and
especially pretty with lovely houses, gardens full of Hydrangeas in
bloom and quaint shops and pubs. We walked down to sit on the small
promenade and buy ice cream and the sun came out. It was glorious. There
is a lovely old pub on the waterfront down there where you sit outside
for lunch and you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks below. I
think it was called The Spyglass.
all over the I.O.W. and visited Ryde for Ice Skating, Shanklin Chine for
hill walking and souvenir shopping, Godshill for a great cream tea,
Sandown for its beaches and amusement arcades, West Wight for Needles
Point, Alum Bay and the Quay at Yarmouth, Brading for the Wax Works, Carisbrooke
Castle for a liberal sprinkling of History, Cowes for some
great restaurants and last but not least Newport, the small capital of
the I.O.W. The new car which had been christened 'Monty' by Sophie did
it all with ease. A very smooth ride even with two big teenagers sitting
in the front with the driver for most of the time.
village had also proved a good choice as it had tennis courts, indoor
and outdoor swimming pools, a mini-golf area and a huge area for nightly
entertainment. Here are the boys enjoying themselves at one of the
cabaret evenings. However, they wouldn't get up and dance!
think we all had a really good time and the half term went really
quickly. The short ferry ride home was fun as we managed to get the
seats at the back of the boat which gave us a panoramic leaving view of
the I.O.W. We also went up on deck but it was really windy so we soon
came back down again and drank hot chocolate to keep warm. If you have
never been to this small part of the U.K then you should consider taking
a trip across the Solent and seeing it for yourself. It really is a fun
place to go.
So goodbye to the 'Garden Isle'. It was great!
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