I had some holiday to use up and it’s a while since we’ve had a break so we’ve taken a few days off for a trip to the exotic Isle of Wight! This morning we drove to the Portsmouth to get the ferry over to Fishbourne. It took us less than half an hour to get there and consequently we were just able to sneak on to the back of the ferry before the one we were booked on. The ferry terminal is adjacent to the new Spinnaker Tower which would have afforded great views on such a clear day.
We decided to make the most of the fantastic weather and headed straight for the west end of the island. Most of the tourist “attractions” above Alum Bay were mercifully closed which meant we didn’t have to pay for parking and walked from there along to the Needles. Looking out to sea from the concrete mass on the headland that is the former rocket testing station, you couldn’t help wondering whether some pieces of history are better not kept for posterity! From there we headed up on to Tennyson Down. There was a strong breeze to blow away the cobwebs but I’m sure I’ve also caught the sun today.
We returned to the car and started to head west along the coast stopping occasionally to enjoy the views. We took a brief detour inland to the National Trust garden at Mottistone Manor. Although we could hear lots of talking, there was nobody about when we arrived and we had completed one lap of the lower garden before seeing anyone. It then transpired that the talking was a meeting of the volunteers who were preparing for the opening on Sunday! Let’s hope they manage to get a few more plants in to the beds by then as the garden was looking a little bare.
We made one more stop at St Catherine’s Hill to walk up to the rocket shaped oratory. Once a medieval lighthouse it is apparently now known to the locals as “the pepperpot”. Shanklin was our eventual destination where we were staying at the Luccombe Hall Hotel. Built as the summer palace of the Bishop of Portsmouth you couldn’t help feeling that it had probably seen better days. We enjoyed the more modern addition of an indoor swimming pool and the evening meal (which was included in the cost of our stay along with the ferry crossing) was well presented and equally tasty.