Our first proper outing in the new van! Quite exciting – especially as we are taking our 9 year old niece (Evie) and 5 year nephew (Lenny) with us. Although it’s a teeny bit annoying that they will get to sleep in out lovely new bed and we’ll be on the double in the dining area which has to be made up every night. But it’ll be good fun and we are really looking forward to it. There’s a few jobs to be done – like fitting the big feet to the corner steadies and making room for the kids and all their accoutrements plus all the “in case it’s a rainy day” stuff. We pray it won’t be but it has to be said – it’s not looking too promising as I write this (Tuesday 30/3). Still – que sera sera.
We are catching a slightly later ferry than we would have ideally caught, because our budding actor, Lenny, has a drama workshop that finishes at lunchtime on Thursday. To allow time for them to get down from London we put the ferry time back to 5 pm. Fortunately, the clocks have sprung forward so there should be enough daylight to set up although we may have some hungry children on our hands as the ferry crossing takes roughly an hour and then it’s about a half hour drive to the camp-site and then at least another half hour to get dinner on the go.
We are using Red Funnel from Southampton as we did last year, as they are much cheaper than the Wightlink service. The ferry goes to East Cowes and then we have to drive to the camp-site – Whitefield Forest – just outside Ryde, where we also spent last Easter.
Thursday – 2nd April
The kids and their Dad arrived around 2.30, allowing us plenty of time to get to the ferry. I had anticipated that there might be a touch of separation anxiety when Dad left, but no, thank goodness. Too excited for that! Being Easter, the ferries were pretty much fully booked and so even though we actually could have made the 4.00 ferry as it turns out, we had a bit of time to kill. We waited in Mayflower Park, were there was a handy ice-cream van plus a very well-appointed kids playing area. The time thus soon passed and we joined the queue to board. The kids were pretty excited and there were quite few questions about how the caravan would fit and so on, the answers to which soon became clear. We spent the first half of the journey up on deck (before it got too chilly) looking at all the sights and the crossing passed very quickly.
It was grey and overcast but not actually raining, as had been forecast, which was a relief. I had warned the site that we expected to be late and they had, as promised, pinned our details to the door. I had asked for a pitch nearby the one we had used last year and we had been allocated the one next door. Perfect.
We quickly got set up, with the aid of the kids, and dinner was soon on the table. Pre-prepared spag bog accompanied by garlic bread disappeared quite quickly and we had a quick couple of card games and then it was slightly late to bed for the kids and slightly earlier than usual for us. This turned out to be a very smart move indeed, and one which we adopted for the the following few nights. It rained quite heavily over night.
Good Friday – 3rd April
So it was an early start. 6.23 to be precise! There followed a period of Evie shushing Lenny and LOUD stage whispers from Lenny of “What time is it Evie?”. Bless. We held out until 7.30 and then gave permission to rise.
We had our breakfast and then, upon dressing, we discovered a sock shortage for Evie. A quick trip round the very handy Tescos nearby soon sorted that (plus new pants for both, new books, a present for George and bottled water for the car – well for the kids and Archie). As it was a grey and chillyish day, we went to Seaview for hot chocolate at the The Old Fort. Whilst there, Paul was delighted to find a couple of Marine Electronic “relics” being used as decoration for the walls for the cafe (yaaaawn!).
There followed a session beach-combing on the pebbly beach. We founds lots of nice shells which Evie was delighted to collect. There was a superabundance, as there always seems to be on pebbly beaches, of Slipper Limpet shells. We mostly ignored these and found some pretty bits of oyster shells, scallops and periwinkles and some really big limpet shells. Lenny amused himself by throwing “pebbles” into the sea.
It was back to the van for lunch and then we set off for the Donkey Sanctuary, which is near Wroxall. As the weather had been inclement, all the donkeys were in the barns and we all fell in love with every one of them. There seems to be a fascination between Archie and donkeys and vice versa. We all had a great time and we let the kids choose a donkey to sponsor. They chose a cute white one called Daisy and they received an adoption certificate. They also each chose a donkey cuddly toy. Evie called hers Star (after my now deceased adopted donkey) and Lenny – well he called his a different name every day but seems to have finally settled for Jigsaw. You’ll see why later.
We stopped off on the way home at Yaverland beach (a favourite of mine). The kids went for a long scooter ride (a cunning ploy to tire them out!) along the prom and then we went on the beach and did some sand writing – even Archie. who seems to love a sandy beach, got in on the act!
Then it was back to the van for a fish and chip supper, which we had picked up on the way home. It was very nice indeed and we all tucked in with relish (mayo and ketchup anyway!). We managed an earlier night for the kids on this occasion and we followed after a quick coffee and relax.
Saturday 4th April
We had a slow and meandering start to the day, although it was another very early one. Showers and a squirrel hunt plus picnic-making took us until around 11 am and then we set off for our day out.
We were off to Carisbrooke Castle, which we knew the kids would love. We walked all round the battlements and whilst on one leg, we found a ladies handbag. I stayed at the site of finding it and Paul and the kids rushed off to the gatehouse to hand it in. Just as they got back, a very worried looking couple appeared and I asked if they had lost something. It was the handbag owner – and she was jolly grateful that it had been found. Our good deed for the day! We got half way round and noticed that the next donkey demonstration was about to start, so we joined the queue. The donkey that was to draw up the water by treadmill (click here to see a short video) was none other than Jigsaw. (Lenny’s eventually chosen donkey name). The kids loved the demo (well I did too!) and then we had our picnic, eyed by avaricious crows, who descended the very moment we left to complete our battlements walk to see if we had left any crumbs or goodies for them.
We had arranged to meet my old school chum, Julia, and had decided to go for afternoon tea at The Old Smithy, near Godshill. We thought it might be fun to take the kids on the chain ferry as it was more or less on our route from Carisbrooke to Godshill. They loved it as much as I do.We had just arrived in Godshill when I got a message to say that Julia had been taken ill on the way there and had gone home. We decided to have a cream tea anyway as we were on holiday. The kids had ice creams (it’s the law that you have a daily ice-cream whilst on holiday in our family).
On the way home, we passed the Garlic Farm and decided to pop in as we saw that they had the Birds of Prey there again for Easter. The kids chose to take a ferret for a walk – not something you get to do every day! To our delight, we also spotted a couple of red squirrels.
We made our way home and the kids had fun in the forest – and a close encounter with a peasant (or so I was told!) while I cooked the dinner (Curry) after which, we settled down to watch The Voice and then bed.
Easter Sunday – 5th April
Another day, another adventure. This time we were off to Robin Hill but not before it was discovered that the “Easter Chick” had been overnight and left some surprises (although, rather disappointingly, not for the grown-ups ). We stopped off on the way to feed some ducks – a really beautiful assortment of unusual ducks plus the ubiquitous Mallards.
We arrived at Robin Hill and spent (a small fortune and) several hours there on toboggan rides, tractor rides, slides, trains, swings – so on. We even tried to lose themn in the maze but they came back!! Ideal for kids. For grown-ups – not so much.
We still had some time to kill, so we set off for Shanklin for an ice cream and bit of sand play. The sun came out fully while we there and it was delightful. There were loads of people having an Easter stroll along the prom. We went to our favourite ice cream parlour – Toppings – and gave the kids their choice out of 28 flavours. Evie chose Bubblegum flavour (Yuk!) and Lenny wet for the more classic Strawberry. I think Uncle Paul got rather carried away with the size of the kid’s ice creams!!
Home and some jigsaw fun followed and then it was time (this is a few hours later by the way!) for a Roast Dinner, a bit more play and then off to bed for our last night. I think we managed ti=o stay awake until gone nine pm. Oh yes!
Bank Holiday Monday – 5th April
It was a chilly start but the sun was shining the brightest that it had for the entire weekend. Typical! The kids helped pack up and then we were off to pick up the ferry. It was a beautiful crossing – so warm and sunny and we had a picnic on board. Then it was home and unpacking – the worst bit of going away – and washing and dinner, bed and baths for the kids. They went off to sleep quickly and our lovely weekend was over. It remained for the kids to be picked up by their Mum and Dad ( and a pleasant lunch at Cams Mill) before it was back to the normal routine. Despite the slightly miserable weather we had packed a great deal in and Lenny pronounced that a caravan was his favourite vehicle. A hit I think? her’s to next year. But first – our next trip to Herefordshire on May bank holiday weekend with Mum and Uncle D. That time will fly.
I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of the lovely, peaceful site – where the birdsong is beautiful.