The end is nigh - well, it is for my recollections of this particular trip as you've arrived at the last part of my blog on our recent trip to the Isle of Wight.
With the eastern side of the Island given the Nonsense! treatment it was time to head south and west, so on the Thursday, with the Newport roundabout successfully negotiated we set course.
First up, and an unexpected treat was the village of Shorwell, who's arrival is announced, not only by a road sign (how helpful) but a lovely wooden bridge spanning the road. Real picture postcard stuff with quaint stone built and thatched roof cottages. An ancient church and a cosy looking pub cater for the needs of worshippers - in one way or another.
The village of Brightstone brought with it the coast road that runs along the south of the Island. This is one of my favourite parts as the views are fantastic - particularly on a nice sunny day. Which of course it wasn't, but nevertheless was still enjoyable.
Our next port of call was ‘The Needles’ at Alum bay right at the south western tip. For the uninitiated, the needles are a line of chalk stacks that rise out of the sea punctuated by a lighthouse. It’s more impressive than it sounds and a whole visitors park has built up around it. When we’ve visited in the past it has always been busy.
Not surprisingly though given the time of year it was pretty quiet and our tug Rosie cut a pretty lonely figure in the car park. Most of the attractions were shut, including sadly the cable car that takes you over the cliffs and down to the beach below where you can do a boat trip during the season. The cafe and gift shop were open however and both were the no doubt grateful recipients of the Blogger in Black and Portly Partners extravagant custom. Coffee and a fridge magnet!
A short drive north brought us to Yarmouth, a picturesque little town that has almost nothing in common with it’s brasher namesake in Norfolk. Ferries arrive here from Lymington on the mainland and passengers will arrive to find a little harbour, compact streets with attractive houses, a pier and a castle. Oh yeah, and a few pubs. Quite a few. I warmed to it instantly.
The pier was built originally to receive the Lymington ferry but is now a pleasant walkway giving great views back to the town.
Heading back north and east brought us to Cowes, famous of course for its week long regatta held in August. We stopped to recharge our batteries in one of the many cafes, somehow resisting the lure of some very cosy looking pubs. Whilst there was less sign of tough times here than on other parts of the Island it was still very quiet.
Another ride on the chain ferry brought us across the river and back to East Cowes and the site late afternoon.
An early evening excursion to a couple of ‘research’ venues proved a pleasant distraction although there was nothing new, ale wise to try. The first pub offered ales all the way from er, Suffolk. Yep, Greene King again. The second had just the one - a well known nationally available beer from Cornwall which I’ve sampled more times than I care to mention.
Friday. Our last full day - and a day, promised the prophets of doom in the Met Office, that would be wet. Very. Still it was dry - just as we headed back to Ryde to check out the shopping area that we’d bypassed on our visit a few days previously. Well, we had about half an hour walking around before the rain came and sent us scurrying back to the car and thence the warmth of Patsy, to start packing up.
a brief respite in the afternoon brought with it the chance to clean the caravan roof of all the muck and grime that had accumulated over the winter. A task made easier by having the pitch side tap. No-one seemed to object to me using a hosepipe so I just got on with it. Not the most exciting of activities I know but it badly needed doing and it’s out of the way now until the autumn.
The journey back was spectacularly uneventful - always a good thing when you’ve got a tonne and half right on your tail. The ferry crossing was smooth and prompt and the breakfast was, once again excellent.
So, another trip done. It was good to go back and see The Isle of Wight more closely even if perhaps it wasn’t at it’s best. The weather - although largely dry - didn’t help, with the almost constant leaden skies making things look drearier than they were. I look forward to returning at some point when it’s warmer as it’s a great place to visit.
So, what’s next? Well, in under two weeks our school packs up for Easter, so of course we will be hitching up Patsy again. Our original plan, was to head to Holland & Belgium. We have some friends that live in The Hague that I haven't seen for far far too long and it would have been great to catch up with them, as well as visit Amsterdam and perhaps enjoy a little of the ‘high’ life. Ahem. But extensive research (that'll be Google then) revealed that many sites do not open until April. So, that’s on hold for now.
Instead, we’re heading north once again - up to Northumberland and not too far from the Scottish border and working our way down the coast before heading inland to Nottinghamshire.
We will be stopping on the way up - to catch up with family and hopefully some friends too. Breaking the journey on the way up also means that, with a light right foot and a bit of luck we may be able to avoid becoming the victims of daylight robbery at one of the service stations on the A1!