So, I have finally returned home from a fantastic break in the Isle of Wight. I'm a little browner, a little heavier and definitely more relaxed.
The holiday started off at home, early on Saturday morning - after loading the car, I programmed the Sat-Nav with my destination, drove over to my friends house and loaded his luggage into the back of my car then drove away.....Hurrah! The holiday had begun!!
The first leg of the trip was the pleasant journey to Southampton (the port that the Titanic made its fateful voyage from) to catch the ferry across the Solent. As usual, I arrived early and had enough time to grab a quick coffee before boarding.
My Honda CRV was almost as excited as I was as I drove up the ramp onto the ferry. Soon we set sail and the adventure began.
The journey across the Solent was very relaxing (and is also one of the most expensive stretches of river to cross in the world - it cost me £129.00 for a 1hr each way return journey, which equates to approx $258).
As the ferry approached the harbour at East Cowes in the Isle of Wight, there were more and more boats of varying sizes sprawled across the horizon.
The rediculously expensive ferry journey was soon over and we made our way to the cottage. I had been warned that part of the medina that we were staying in was in the process of being renovated - and to my horror, as we drove into the gravel lane and towards the cottage, there were cranes and wire fences everywhere - OH MY GOODNESS! I HAVE A RELAXING HOLIDAY ON A BLOODY BUILDING SITE. My heart was pounding - this wasn't my idea of a relaxing break! Luckily, as we drove further, it became clear that the cottgae was much further on, past the building work.
I found the cottage and pulled up outside. Climbed out of the car, up the pathway and opened the door. WOW! The cottage was stunning - the pictures shown on the agent website did not pay justice to how quaint the cottage was. No sooner had I opended the door, the unloading began. Firstly, dumping everything I had into my bedroom. I sneakily laid claim to the master bedroom with the double bed and sea view, leaving my friend with the twin room.
Any ordinary "unattached" male would probably have 2 shirts, a pair of shorts, a trousers, 3 or 4 pairs of socks and a couple of pairs of boxer shorts to lastthe 8 days - in my case there were 20 shirts, 4 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of trousers, 6 t-shirts, 4 sweatshirts, 2 jackets, 4 pairs of shoes, 9 pairs of socks, 10 pairs of boxer shorts and 3 ties. Well, I just needed to make sure that I had a choice of what to wear each day (just on the off chance that it could be sunny/cloudy/wet/dry/hot/cold/raining/snowing/windy/foggy.........) - these things are important, you never know who I might meet whilst I'm here???? Below is a photo of the double wardrobe in my room, once my unpacking had been completed. I could just about fit everything in... I'm still a bit worried that I may have left a shirt or two at home....ooops!
After unpacking and getting our things together, we decided to take a stroll upto a local riverside Inn (The Folly Inn). The good news is that it is no more than a 10 minute stroll over the medina, through a couple of fields to get there.
After a few beers and a bite to eat, we made our way back to the cottage. I used this as an opportunity to get my cmaera out and take a few snaps as the sun set.
When we returned to the cottage, we were amazed to see many ducks and swans gathering outside our cottage to sleep for the night. Each of them had their own personality and characteristics. It was quite amusing to watch them.
So, the first day was over. Excited about the next few days of relaxation, sun, sea and sand.
The next morning I woke with the sun beaming through the window and lots of noise going on outside. I dragged myself out of bed and wandered to the window to see what the commotion was outside. Oooh! A yoga session right outside my window - how unusual is that???
The ducks and swans that slept on the pathway outside our cottage overnight, were waking up and stretching their muscles, ready for a day of swimming and eating.
It was such a beautiful sight... it made me feel like going for an early morning swim or jog myself. Unsurprisingly, this thought soon passed. I got dressed and made my way down stairs for some cereals, toast and a cup of tea before going on my first day of exploring the island.
By this time, the weather forecast for the week had changed from heavy rain to perfect sunshine - great timing (somebody was clearly looking down on me).
The next few days took us to some of the most breathtaking places. Including the Needles. The Needles are an area of cliffs that, after being formed about 85 million years ago, have been corroded away to leave 3 distinct stacks. I strongly recommend that, if you do visit the needles, you experience it from:
a) The beach
b) From a boat
c) From above
To see it from above. there is an amazing walk from Freshwater Bay. The walk starts with a gentle climb up a hill towards Tennyson's memorial.
Followed by a stunning stroll along the cliff edge towards the needles
Finishing at the battlement at the top of the Needles.
One of the things that amazed me about the Isle of Wight, was how many amazing beaches and bays there were. Everywhere we drove we found the most stunning places.
...and of course, you can't have an English promonade without the obligatory tacky souvenir stall.
On a couple of occasions, we decided to stay inland and visit some of the historical sites. First of all was 'Osbourne House' - famous for being the family home of Queen Victoria, Britain's longest serving monarch.
In the house itself, there is a policy of no photographs, but below is a small selection of the many impressive rooms (library pictures from the National Heritage):
"The Queen's Bedroom"
"The Durbar Room"
"The Table Deckers Room"
"The Dining Room"
After enjoying a couple of hours walking around the House admiring the arcitecture and decor, we made our way outside to enjoy the weather and the splendor of the quintesentially English gardens.
The afternoon was finished off with an delicious cream tea (Earl Grey Tea and Scones with Stawberry Jam and Fresh Cream).
One afternoon we decided to visit the Island's castle. Carisbrook Castle, who's origins date back to the Saxon times of the 8th Century, took me back to my childhood - remembering the days when I used to dream of being a Knight at King Arthur's Round Table.
Anywayz, as explained in my earlier post, the week that I visited the Isle of Wight was "Cowes Week". The week of the World Yacht racing extravoganza. On several of the days we popped down to the harbour to watch the racing and soak up the atmosphere (as well as a few gallons of alcohol).
The yacht racing began around 10.30 each morning. Each race was stared by the firing of a canon at the harbour edge.
The action then began ... well kind of ... there were so many yachts in the harbour, I was unable to tell who was in which race and which way they were going. I suppose that is why I was stood on dry land being a spectator and not in a yacht.
The end of the Cowes Week competition was celebrated with a traditional fun day with a firework display in the evening. The harbour was heaving with spectators of all ages. All enjoying the sun, the racing, the music, the food & drink and the most amazing atmosphere.
It was time for everybody to enjoy the sunset over the horizon...
...before the fireworks start...
An early rise the next morning to face the daunting task of packing and then one more visit to Cowes harbour to savour the last few minutes of relaxation before jumping on the ferry for the journey home. This was certainly a holiday to remember - Phew! No broken bones (after breaking my ankle on holiday in 2005 and shattering my shoulder in 2006)!!!
All that is left for me to do now, is start counting down the days until my next holiday in 3 weeks time :))))