Friday, 27 August 2010

Our Last Day

For our last day on the Island we chose to take it easy. The weather was grey, wet and windy, so its was a slow wind-down before our early ferry tomorrow morning.

We went over to Ryde, I wanted to go back to a nice little book-shop where I saw a bargain I fancied.

Then it was back to Gurnard Pines, and we took a leisurely stroll down to the sea-front. Back at our Chalet we started to pack and tidy up. Ols and I went off for a swim, then we all had a Pizza and a cake.

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We're all packed up now and watching Tv with our feet up. It's been a great week on the Isle of Wight, and we're all sad to be leaving.

We'll be back!

Cheers, and thanks for reading the blog, Rob.

Our Sixth Day!

Our sixth day on the Isle of Wight has been a quiet one, which isn't surprising as the weather hasn't been kind again.

We started off with a breakfast at McDonald's, then we went for a good look around Newport Town Centre. There's plenty of shops, a M & S, but some of them are a looking a little tired, like most British town centres I guess.

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Next up we drove to Ryde. I'll quickly mention the roads and drivers on the IOW. Most of the roads are narrow, twisty, hilly and with plenty of blind corners. So, as you'd expect, visitors to the Island (like me) will drive conservatively and safely- making sure that I slow down for corners and junctions, especially in the wet.

However, lots of the local cars drive incredibly fast and too dangerously for the conditions. If you go out every day and drive across the island, expect to have someone driving far too close behind you, and they'll probably try to overtake when there's a junction or a blind bend coming up. Enough said.

We had a really good look around Ryde, and even took a ride on the land-train along the sea-front.

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On the way home we stopped off for a roast dinner at a carvery, and the day was done.

Thanks, Rob.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

On The Fifth Day It Rained!

Our fifth day on the Isle of Wight! Unfortunately today the bad weather really kicked in, shortening our day and making the rest of the week difficult if it stays stormy.

We decided to go to The Isle of Wight Steam Railway this morning, as Suzanne has never ridden on a steam train and wanted to as soon as she saw the Railway online.

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We got to the station early, so we purchased our tickets, had a look around then went back to our car for a cup of coffee.

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At about ten fifteen we headed back in, had our third-class tickets clipped, then climbed aboard. After about five minutes the train set off and we were treated the sights, smells and sounds of an ols steam train.

The track is pretty straight, so you can't actually see the train for most of the journey, but you do get a glimpse of the steam engine on the gentle curves.

The IOW Steam Railway runs two trains at a time, one on either sides of the track, so each train runs to one end and back again. We were in our carriage for about an hour. You can get off and have a look around at the stops, however we stayed aboard as the rain was coming down hard.

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When we arrived back at the main train-station the weather brightened up for a few minutes, so we took some photos and had a mooch around the gift shop.

The rain came down like cats and dogs, so we were pleased that we had chosen to visit the Dinosaur Isle attraction at Sandown this afternoon. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake.

I'm sure that if you're really into fossils, Dinosaur Isle could be a real treat, but for us it was a let-down. It may have been because it was very busy, but the center felt more like an exhibition than a museum.

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There are plenty of static displays with lots to read, and the younger kids seemed to really enjoy running around filling in their action packs and playing with the displays, but we weren't that interested so left after about half an hour.

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After that it was back to Gurnard Pines for a bite to eat and a swim I'm the pool.

Another good day, even if Dinosaur Isle was a disapointment, but now as we sit watching TV, the rain is thundering down on the roof of our chalet, and the weather reports say the bad weather is here to stay. Let's hope they're wrong and we'll have some sun for the last couple of days of our holiday on the Isle of Wight.

Thanks, Rob.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Our Fourth Day On The Island

Finally, on day four of our holiday in the Isle of Wight, the Sun came out!

According to the TV Weather Reports, the chances of rain were high, with things getting worse as the week wore on. We decided to have a quick look round Cowes, which is just down the road from us here at Gurnard Pines, then in the afternoon we chose to visit one of the Islands Zoos.

Cowes, as you probably well know, is a town dedicated to sailing and yachting. We're not much into that sort of thing, but as the Sun had now come out, we enjoyed walking along the quayside and exploring the narrow streets.

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Despite it being after nine, most of the shops were closed, so after we'd seen most if them we jumped back in the car and headed off, excited that the weather seemed to have turned and the Summer had returned with a Vengeance!

We had a voucher for money off the entrance fee at The Seaview Flamingo Park Wildlife Experience, so we headed towards the East of the Island.

On the way we stopped off at the Rosemary Vineyard for a Cream Tea, or more accurately a cream coffee, and the scones were delicious. Ols had a slice of chocolate cake, and that was tasty too.

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The weather was beautiful as we arrived at Flamingo Park. If you decide to visit this great attraction, which I recommend you do, make sure you buy several bags if bird feed at the entrance, you'll need them!

This little zoo is great if you're into birds. We especially enjoyed the Penguins, and feeding the many ducks and geese than wander freely around the site. The Tropical House, with its free flying exotic birds was great, petting the Walabies a real treat, and the Meer-Cats a laugh.

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Flamingo Park is well worth a visit, especially if you have younger kids who'd enjoy getting really close to the animals.

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We finished our day with a Drive to Sandown, a truly spectacular sandy beach, with a beautiful white-cliff background, even if the town is looking very tired.

We paddled in the surf, letting the soft golden sand get between our toes, regretting that we hadn't brought our swimming cossies and towels.

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The car boot sale in the car park of the Isle of Wight wasn't worth mentioning, but we headed home happy that we'd had a great day, and it looked like the weather has taken a turn for the better.

Thanks, Rob.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Third Day Of Our Holiday On The Isle Of Wight

The Third Day Of Our Holiday On The Isle Of Wight

We followed our ears after an early breakfast to track down the ducks that seem to be wandering around Gurnard Pines every day.

After a short walk through the woods we found the Duck pond, but couldn't convince the birds to sample our stale bread!

We had breakfast then we headed out for Blackgang Chine, hoping that the weather would hold and the day stay dry.

I would briefly like to talk about GPS Sat Nav In-Car Navigation devices. For our holiday on the Isle Of Wight I brought along our trusty Garmin Nuvi 200, and my Android Smart-Phone, the HTC Desire.

We have quickly found that the Garmin Nuvi 200 is very reliable, but it does have a tendency to take us down some very narrow single-track roads. We have driven around some of the Isle of Wights most scenic countryside, but it has been nerve-racking!

The HTC Desire, using Googles Maps and Navigation app, offers better routing, but the lack of 3g mobile network coverage meant that the phone couldn't always download the routes required.

I guess what I'm saying is that you should be careful and not always trust where your Gps is telling you to go, especially if you're driving a larger vehicle.

Back to Blackgangchine. The weather stayed clear and we had an enjoyable time on the (small) roller-coaster, the water-slide, the cowboy town, dinosaurs, haunted house and other attractions.

Black Gang Chine

Blackgang Chine is really aimed at children younger than our Oliver, who is 12, so once we'd seen everything we headed back to our car for a packed lunch and a welcome cup of coffee.

Next up we drove to Nunwell House, which I have to say Suzanne and I enjoyed very much. The house has been occupied by Gentry for the last few hundred years, and has some great history.

Nunwell House, Isle Of Wight

The rain reared its ugly head as we looked around the rather plain garden, but the real reason why we visited Nunwell House was for the guided tour.

Window Detail, Nunwell House

The history of the two main families that have occupied this grand building is quite dry, but it all came to life for me when the tour guide took us into the bedroom where Charles I enjoyed his last night of freedom before being arrested at Yarmouth the following day. To stand where Charles has stood, thinking about how he was to be be-headed, sent goose pimples down my arms.

View From Across Fields, Nunwell House

After Nunwell house we popped into Oasis, an interesting furniture and gift shop, to sample a cream tea, coffee and cakes.

We then chose to go to Brickfield Car Boot Sale, held every Monday afternoon at five. We had the rather unusual experience of having to queue to enter the car boot, because they don't let anyone in before five! Not the largest of Car Boot Sales, we had a good look around then headed back home.

On the way to Gurnard Pines we drove into Cowes, looking for a convenience store to stock up on supplies. I was very pleased to find a cooperative, so we filled up with bread and sandwich stuff, then turned around and went to Gurnard Pines.

As a footnote, those ducks I mentioned earlier were waiting for us by the veranda of our holiday chalet. We grabbed some bread, fed the birds, then headed in for tea.

A great day!

Thanks, Rob.

Our Second Day On The Island

(Connectivity problems mean that I'll probably be posting these articles when we get home, rather than when we're on the Island.)

Being Car Boot Addicts, Suzanne, Ols and I headed off early to see what the Isle Of Wight offer to Sunday Early-birds.

Unfortunately the rainy weather meant that the Car Boot Sales at the Newport Football Club, West Green and Ryde were pretty small affairs.

The car boot sale at Ryde (which is held between the ice-rink and the bowling alley) didn't start until 1130, so we went down to the beach at St Helens, which is very peaceful and picturesque. There's the ruins of an old Church and plenty of rock-pools to explore when the tide is out. We kicked off our shoes and had a paddle, enjoying the soft sand between our toes.

The Beach At St Helens

The rain got even heavier as the day progressed, so after a packed lunch in the car we decided to visit Osborne House, one of Queen Victoria's favourite residences.

North View Of Osborne House

Horse And Carraige, Osborne House

The bad weather curtailed our explorations of the grounds, but Osborne House itself was fascinating, and we caught the mini-bus down to the Swiss Chalet, built for Queen Victoria's children.

After Osborne House we went to Needles park, which offers great views of the famous landmark, a small theme park and a truly scary cable-car / ski-lift ride!

View Of Needles From Viewing Platform

Descent Of Needles Cable Car


We headed home after a great (if wet) day. The weather forecast for tommorrow is more wind and rain, but fingers crossed it'll clear up and the sunshine will come out.

Thanks, Rob.

Our First Day On The Isle Of Wight!

(I was planning to upload these posts as soon as I wrote them, but a lack of a 3g connection means that I can't. The dates of the posts won't therefore always match up with the real dates! I'm also doing all the first drafts of these articles on my Android phone, the HTC, using Blogaway, and I'll be adding photos in later.)

Our day started early this morning. I was a little too careful with the timings, and we arrived an hour too soon for our 930 sailing in the Wightlink Ferry. By an hour too soon I mean we got to Portsmouth at 730 instead of 830!

Waiting For The Ferry

After having a leisurely walk around Old Portsmouth in the early morning rain, we headed back in the terminal to wait for our ferry.

In our little Daihatsu we were among the first on the St. Cecilia car ferry, and we were put on the hydraulic raising deck, which caused a few anxious moments as it jerked into position!

Loading The Ferry

Leaving Portsmouth

Suzanne, Ols and I spent most of the hour-long journey on the outside upper decks, even though the weather was getting worse by the minute. Portsmouth and Southsea quickly disappeared into the grey mist , but it was fun to watch the ferrys, sail boats and sea-forts go past.

On Our Way

Arrival!

Once we arrived in Fishbourne it was time to rely on our Garmin Sat Nav to get us over to Gurnard Pines, which in heavy Saturday morning traffic took us just under an hour.

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Gurnard Pines is a small, family oriented holiday park with a mix of chalets and newer semi-permanent caravans. We had rented our chalet privately, and we paid the extra to get passes to use the indoor and outdoor pools, Gym, and Tennis Courts.

After a light lunch we drove to Ryde to have a look around. The weather had started to clear up, and we really enjoyed looking round this pretty seaside town, even though we only had a couple of hours to spare. Ols enjoyed watching the Hovercraft come in, and Suzanne loved the boutique style shops, especially Le Petit Francais and Chic Antiques.

Next Time!

We were all feeling a bit jaded by four o'clock, so we went to the big Tesco Extra to get some supplies, then it was back to Gurnard Pines for a Pizza Dinner.

Tomorrow? The Isle of Wight car boot sales first thing, then some of the islands attractions, depending on the weather.

Cheers, Rob.