So for our Easter break this year, we chose the Isle of Wight as neither of has spent more than a day there and we wanted to explore more fully. It was also an opportunity to meet with my dear old school chum Julia and meet her husband. We have recently become re-acquainted through Facebook after a gap of 40 years or so. Bizarrely, and also quite annoyingly, it was actually far cheaper to catch a Red Funnel ferry from Southampton to the Island than from Portsmouth, so we set off and arrived in plenty of time for our sailing, despite dire warnings of hold-ups caused by roadworks in Southampton. It was quite exciting – almost as exciting as going to France and the weather was kind-ish.
We had a pleasant crossing and were out on deck for the entire journey. It was only a couple of weeks earlier that I had passed that way aboard the Azura on a short cruise to Belgium with my dear old ma. There are some lovely sights along the way. You can see from the photos below that the weather was not quite perfect but bearable.
We drove the short distance to our campsite just outside Ryde. The campsite, Whitefield Forest Touring Park, had been well chosen. It was, as the name suggests, set in woodland and there was plenty of wildlife in evidence and the promise, too, of red squirrels.
Julia and Nigel were expected for dinner and I had made a curry before we left home. We were just getting ready for their arrival when disaster struck. We noticed that we had a leak under the sink. This meant that we could not pour any liquid down there. Lots of stuff had also got wet so we were in uproar when they arrived. Notwithstanding, we had a pleasant evening and eventually did the washing up in the sinks provided by the site. Very handy.
The next day (Friday) was quite pleasant and we set off to explore. Our first port of call was Seaview and we loved it there. It was quite a clear day and we were able to get some good views of the Solentforts from the other side than we usually see them.
From Seaview we went to Ryde and found Hursts – a brilliant hardware store, where we bought the stuff needed to effect a repair on the leaky sink. While Paul was deep in conversation with one of their advisers, I took the opportunity to have a good rummage round. I ended up buying – a bucket! As were returning to the car, we saw a bridal party in horse and cart.
Our next port of call was The IOW Garlic Farm, where we had been charged with obtaining some – yes you’ve guessed it- GARLIC. We were in luck. There was garlic and garlic products galore here and we bought some for family and friends – including some amazing smoked garlic. Our car reeked for several days after it had been removed! We lunched here and then had a look at some birds of prey. Also spotted the local peacock.
Finally we went home via Yarmouth. A very full days exploring.
On the next day (Saturday) , we had arranged to meet Julia again at Carisbrooke Castle – where she works from time to time. The last time either Paul or I visited here we were both in junior school so we were pretty excited. We were not disappointed either. We had a great time exploring the battlements, seeing the famous donkeys and so on. We also learnt quite a bit about its history. I was clearly not paying attention on that school trip. What’s new?
We’d highly recommend a visit. Feeling a bit peckish after our exertions on the battlements, we made our way to Bembridge for a crab sandwich at the Crab & Lobster Inn. Perfection – and a lovely view from our table.
Post lunch, we had a stroll on the beach and then eventually home by working our way along the North-east coast. After a snooze, Paul took the dog for a quick walk, for the first time minus his camera. As he left he said “I’ll probably see a red squirrel now!” He never said a truer word and was soon back to grab the camera.
After dinner, the evening was still quite pleasant so we decided to go out in search of ice-cream. And boy did we find it! Toppings in Shanklin. Outside of Italy I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many different flavours plus 4 flavours of Mr Whippy style! I had a banana split to go. Fab. We ate them overlooking the sea. We called in at Yaverland beach on the way back. Lovely.
Easter Sunday and of course eggs for breakfast. Duck eggs. Lovely, a slow start today as we were meeting Julia for lunch up on Culver Down. Prior to this, we popped back to Yaverland to have a walk on the beach. Really love this beach.
Lunch was a pleasant affair and afterwards we went for a stroll round the battery. Amazing views were hampered by a sea mist, sadly although it did eventually lift a bit.
Apart from the journey home, on Tuesday, that pretty much wraps up our IOW vacation. We thoroughly enjoyed it and vowed to return. We’d certainly be glad to stay at Whitefield Forestagain. Lovely location, peaceful and well laid out and with good amenities. It richly deserves its awards.