Celebrating the end of term on the Isle of Wind

May 22, 2009 - London, United Kingdom

This past weekend was possibly the biggest surprise and most enjoyable trip I have been on in a while. Geri and I went to the lovely Isle of Wight, a small “holiday island” just south of England. We took an overnight tour that was incredibly cheap and really just awesome. With the weather report of rain all weekend I was thoroughly unexcited to go but the weather was surprisingly nice and sporadic.

We got up very early to catch our coach in front of Kings Cross Station. We then headed around London and picked up more people and then headed southwest to Southampton to catch our ferry to the Isle. Geri and I slept the entire way to Southampton and it was awesome. We took the ferry over that was quite an experience. First off, Southampton for those who remember history or the terrible dramatization was the departing point for the ill fated Titanic. So we got some snacks and chilled out for a while then headed out onto the upper deck to catch the views as it was not raining and the sun was actually trying to come out.

The views up there were awesome, that is if you could hold on long enough to enjoy them. It was sooo windy! That doesn’t even begin to describe it, I mean it was nuts. Not like a gust every now and then we’re talking a constant 40+ mile per hour wind. It was nuts. There were these littler girls who were holding on for dear life they were pretty cute. There were also some windsurfers on the nearby beach; they were fun to watch. Man they were going so fast. There were also tons of sailboats, because of the good wind and the Isle of Wight is known for its regattas. We also stood on the front of the ship, or as close as you can get to the bow on the upper deck, it was so windy you couldn’t even do the “I’m king of the world” thing. But we braved it and stayed up there until we arrived at port.

Our first stop was about 10 minutes after we got off the ferry which was very exciting and set the pace for the weekend. We stopped at the Osbourne House a formal royal vacation home that was built and lived in by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. We took a short carriage ride to the palace to save Geri’s back. It was neat because when we pulled up I felt like I was a person arriving at their house like in the olden days, you know by carriage and all. We went into the house and explored that. You’re not allow to take pictures in there and because I love Queen Victoria, and there were a lot of guard people around, I didn’t. It was by far the most stunning palace I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in a lot! It was built in the Renaissance style and was just amazing. Every room had a painting or sculpture or fresco or frieze of Victoria and Albert it was pretty impressive. They really loved each other and themselves. P.S. I’m watching The Village on TV right now and I forgot how much this movie scares me.

So the inside of the Osbourne House was amazing but the outside was as well and that I could take pictures of. It was up on a hill overlooking the ocean. It was stunning, I took a lot of pictures but I honestly don’t think they do it justice. You could see all the way across the water to Portsmouth. We also walked around the rose gardens that were not in bloom yet. From there we headed back on the coach for a short drive to the royal church built by V&A for their use on the Isle. Short drive again as it was literally less than ten minutes away. It was St Mildred’s Church, it was really pretty. Okay, first it looked like it belonged in the Czech Republic and was build 1000 years ago but it was actually built by V&A. In fact there was a stone marked saying that the two of them laid it.

From there we went for another short drive through the centre of the island that was really pretty. It was so hilly and there were lots of farmlands so you could see for miles. We stopped in the small village of Godshill. Not God’s hill, Godshill, I don’t know, there was a church at the top so maybe that’s where they got the name. It was a classic little English village, complete with a model village! Yah, a model of itself in it! I’ve always wanted to see one and I was so excited. We went in, it was really neat. It was like we were giants looking down on the village because it was so accurate. We even pretended we were Godzilla or King Kong that was pretty funny. There were all sorts of little houses with little thatched roofs too! And there was a little train running around that was pretty neat. There were all sorts of little people throughout the model village to. They were really detailed and some for funny. There was a model football match that I really liked. I was funny, I was looking at it and I suddenly noticed a flasher, and then Geri found Waldo! Yah, a flasher and Waldo from the Where’s Waldo? books even made an appearance.

It was pretty neat, after we walked around the real village that was pretty neat. We hiked up the hill to the church at the top and looked around there. This one was hundreds of years old. The views from the top of the hill were pretty as well. After we did a little souvenir shopping and Geri grabbed a sandwich because she was hungry. We then boarded the coach for yet another short and beautiful drive to the town of Sandown where our hotel was where we were staying for the night. We checked into our hotel, after the owner came onto our coach and told us our room assignments. This was very very funny because about half of the people on our tour were Indian. The poor owner had such a hard time with their names, they were laughing with him and at him though to it was okay. The guy even messed up my name, honestly, Hubbard isn’t that hard. Haha, but our hotel was pretty cute and I was excited because we had a bathtub!

So after checking in Geri and I went out exploring and down to the beach. Oh right, I forgot to mention Sandown is a beachfront town. It reminded us both of Hampton Beach. Right on the beach and there was even sand, not rocks, a rarity in England apparently. It wasn’t white sand but sand none the less. We went in the water, not swimming but I went up to my knees. It was actually not that cold, not as cold as I expected and not as cold as Maine. I rather enjoyed it. Sandown also has a pier that has an arcade fun place. So we went into there. It had a casino, arcade, bowling, bar, and even a mini golf. It was fun, so we did pretty much it all. The mini golf was really neat, Geri at first didn’t think she’d be able to do it cause she can’t bend but I picked up her ball after every hole. It was fun. After I went bowling quickly that was fun. Then we hit up the arcade, Geri played the game Egg Venture for a while, while I played an awesome Star Wars game. I battled Darth Vader and won! Haha woot! We then walked down the pier to the end where some rides are, it was pretty small but neat to look at, the rides were closed. Man was it windy out there too! I should mention to that the entire town was empty. Apparently it’s too early for the English to go on holiday but I enjoyed the emptiness. We got dinner at a small pub. It was at this pub that I asked the bartender the outcome of Manchester United’s match with Arsenal. If you’re confused because they just played them, that was in a different league, now it was in the English league. The match was a draw but that’s okay because United still got the one point they need to become Champions second year in a row! I was excited, but I had to hide it from the bartender haha. Dinner was pretty good, good chips if I remember and we even tried their sticky toffee pudding but it wasn’t nearly as good as Wetherspoons I’m afraid.

After we walked along the beach for a while, I felt like my mother because was picking up all sorts of things. I got a ton of sea glass, I was excited, especially since a lot of this probably came from ships that sank right out in the Channel. After we called it a night because we were pooped. We went back to the hotel where I took a long hot bath. It was great. I think I realized that I’m a bath person.

The next morning the sun was out just beginning to come out again, it had poured overnight. We had a full English breakfast at our hotel that was good. Then we checked out and drove, honestly for 10 minutes to the next village for a look around. The town was called Shanklin. We walked to the beach but were disappointed but not really to find that it was down at the bottom of the cliff in which the town was on top of. It was so pretty up there and the sun was out it was awesome. When you look at the pictures you might think that we went to some place on the Mediterranean or something but we didn’t. This is why the English love this place I’m guessing. We also did a little more souvenir shopping in the town centre. The lady at one of the stores was so nice, she basically made my day! I love it when ladies call me love…too bad they’re all about 50 years older than me haha.

Next we drove about another 10 minutes, I love this tour because it was stop and got and not a lot of driving, it was great. The next town was ­­­­­­Ventnor. It was again up on the cliffs overlooking a beach. It was so pretty and the sun was out. We walked along the cliff for a little while and then I said you know, all I have wanted to do is sit in the sun, so Geri went for a walk in the town while I found a spot on the grass out of the wind (because it was still blowing as hard as always) and I sunbathed. It was brilliant, that’s my idea of a vacation. That evening I actually noticed that my face hurt and I had a slight sunburn….but it was worth it!

Towards the end of my moment in heaven the sun started to hide as some clouds rolled in. We then took a little longer drive through the country and along the coast to the Isle of Wight Pearl center. Yah, who knew the Isle is famous for it’s Pearls! After it was a rainy and windy drive to Alum Bay which is home to the Needles. I’ll explain those soon. This weekend on the Isle was the Walk the Wight walk for charity and Alum Bay is the destination point so it was very busy and there were lots and lots of hikers and walkers around. They were all wet and dirty from the storm. We got some lunch and tried to ride on the chairlift down to the beach but it was pouring buckets and they closed it down for safety. Then the rain let up and the sun came out! Crazy weather. It was still really windy though. So we hiked down the cliff side, via stairs, to the beach. It was really pretty and the views of the Needles were great. Now the Needles are limestone rocks that stick up out of the ocean, they don’t look like needles but they used to I guess, but erosion and blah blah and probably global warming caused them to fall down. They were really pretty though, I liked them.

After we hiked back up the tons of stairs; Geri was such a trooper! She did great. After she sat down for a while, and I took a hike along the coast line. It was so pretty, I loved it. There were tons of people walking for the Walk the Wight walk and I was going in the opposite direction as them, it was funny. This one little boy comes up to me and was like “you’re going the wrong way sir.” It was priceless. We then boarded the coach for another short drive to the town of Yarmouth, which they pronounce, Yar-MOUTH, like mouth like you speak from. It was funny. We didn’t have a long time there but we just sat by the docks and watched the ferry come in. after we drove back across the island to our ferry dock and got on. I stayed on the top deck the whole time because it wasn’t as windy. It was cold towards the end but it was really pretty.

The weekend really was great, I enjoyed it so much. It was relaxing and really pretty. I would definitely go back!

Cheers, Mark


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