Yep, another half term holiday and another getaway for the Blogger in Black and his Portly Partner, A.K.A: me and Trev. Sorry, Trevor & I. Can't have queens not speaking queens English now can we....
Patsy’s journey started on Saturday, not from the storage unit but a few miles east at the dealers where she had been in for a service, to maintain the warranty. Yeah, ouch. Still, it means her Ladyship is covered for another year against anything major and they were certainly thorough. More thorough than when they handed her over last year and ‘missed’ a delaminating floor. Anyway, enough of that, lets get on with the trip.
Followers on social media will have noticed that we didn't go straight over to the Isle of Wight - there was a very good reason for that. Money
In the past when we’ve been over for the day or a weekend - long before Patsy’s time - I’ve booked through Wightlink on the Portsmouth to Fishbourne route, mainly because it’s closer for us. However, dear old Wightlink (literally) wanted nigh on two hundred quid to transport us, Patsy and Rosie over on the Saturday and return a week later. That’s nearly as much as we paid to go to Ireland last summer. And back.
I was moaning about this on Twitter and a friend popped up and said have a look at Red Funnel - which we did. Five nights on a caravan site and a return ferry crossing for one hundred and fifty-six quid. Add in a couple of nights on a site near Southampton and it still came to less than two hundred. To use an already overused phrase, it really was a no brainer.
So, a little before midday on Saturday we arrived at Dibles Park in Warsash, roughly half way between Portsmouth and Southampton, where we met up with Adam & Jamie who were breaking a journey home to Kent from Devon and were the same friends that recommended Red Funnel.
We went off to set up Patsy and everything went smoothly apart from a very stubborn air lock in the bathroom tap pipes. I used up the equivalent of Manchester's annual rainfall in water, empty and refilling the system and improved it slightly but the lure of the pub - for research purposes only you understand - was too great, and off we went.
In the evening we met up with the lads again for grog and grub - and a good chin wag too. Greene King, once a little local Suffolk Brewer appeared to be making it’s presence felt down on the south coast and there was no new beers for me to try sadly. Nevertheless it was a very enjoyable evening.
Sunday saw the lads head home home - and us down to the marina at Warsash to check out the views over the Hamble River, before doing a reccy of the route we would be taking with Patsy on Monday.
A rather aimless drive back saw us in the pretty little village of Hamble-le-Rice, which also sits on the Hamble River. Now there’s a thing.
As we looked out we realised that we were just along and opposite from Warsash Marina where we’d been earlier. A ferry service offered transportation across the river in bright pink boats, although not at this time of the year it seemed.
A quite night in - unless you count the pint and sandwich deal in the third of the local pubs that is - brought the weekend to a close.
Our ferry across the Solent was at 1030 Monday morning and we left plenty of time for the journey, which was just as well as we joined glum faced commuters clogging up the suburbs on the way in to Southampton. Sitting in the traffic gave us time to reflect on what a lovely site Dibles Park was. A great location, easy to find, immaculately clean facilities and without doubt some of the best showers we've ever come across on site.
The port - and appropriate gate - was easy to find and I even got a personal welcome at the check in office. It took me by surprise at the time but soon worked out that they already had my car reg and would have seen us coming - particularly considering that we were to be the only caravan. A nice touch though.
Boarding was straightforward, Patsy being downstairs on the lorry deck of course, and we pulled away bang on time. The cheerful gits at the Met Office had predicted a gloomy, overcast but thankfully dry day, so visibility was pretty poor as the ferry eased out into Southampton water and on to the Solent. We spotted the Hoegh Osaka in dock - the ugly grey car carrier that ran aground on the Bramble bank a few weeks prior - but there were no cruise ships about. Having sampled the (very) fresh air on deck for a few minutes we went inside and had a late breakfast. And very nice it was too.
The journey to the site was short. Very. If I tell you that we disembarked the ferry at 1135 and by 1140 we were checking in you you will see what I mean. The site itself - Waverley Park sits on a hill looking partially across to Cowes and out into the Solent. There are statics for rent and what look like a few residential park homes to. Touring caravans are accommodated on stepped terraces.
Check in was swift but friendly and we were allocated our pitch. We were at the front of one of the terraces and the motor mover came in handy to ensure we were facing out the Solent. Another surprise was the provision of both water and waste hook up. It shouldn't have been - it was on the website, I just wasn't paying attention as usual, but either way it was a very welcome addition.
The pitch - hard standing was pretty level so setting up was swift and it wasn't long before we able to enjoy the view to the full as the first of a number of monstrous container ships hove into view as it exited Southampton water and made its way in to the English channel. Visibility wasn't that great as you can see but impressive nonetheless.
The giant sweep that they perform - presumably for depth clearance - ensures you get a great view from the site. and they make the Island ferries look very small indeed. Even the sun made an effort later on, and although as it turns out that was to be first and last we saw of it!
So, that’s part 1. Look out for part 2 coming soon, when we get out and about - and go on another ‘cruise’!