Thanks to BeetleyPete for the idea. Here’s my I…

Isle of Wight

I first went to the IOW in the late 1960s on a school trip. All I can remember about that time is being dreadfully homesick, hating the food, and being appalled at having to share a dormitory with 5 other girls (being an only child I was used to my own bedroom).

However, fast forward nearly 40 years to 2004 and Sam and I went there together for the first time. A relative of Sam’s brother-in-law had a bungalow as a second home at Bembridge at the time, and all the family would rent it cheaply during the summer. We rented the bungalow for a week every year, and began to explore the Island and all its attractions. Eventually, after the bungalow had been sold, we bought a caravan at St. Helens in 2017 and now we’re able to visit there quite often during the year.

From Easter to the end of October there’s always some event or other going on. There is a Round-the-Island walk for hikers, also a classic car show, bikers’ weekends, sailing regattas at Cowes, firework displays, carnivals in many towns, ghost tours, quaint shops, and music festivals to name but a few. There are many beautiful beaches, some dog friendly, and hundreds of places to eat out. There are also theme parks for kids at Alum Bay and Blackgang Chine. Even Queen Victoria loved the Island and made her summer home there, Osborne House, which is open to the public. The pace of life is slower on the Island, and it’s a haven for retirees. We’re still in two minds about whether to move there for good when the two of us decide to retire.

Sam and I take our bikes to the Island, and cycle along old disused railway tracks away from the main roads. We hike across the cliffs from Freshwater down to Alum Bay, or do our favourite Wootton Bridge walk through forests and across the steam railway tracks (as yet we haven’t been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the old steam train). We eat sausage baps at our favourite cafe at Puckpool, and then walk along the Esplanade to Ryde. Sometimes we go to the cinema or the main shopping centre at Newport, or on an evening ghost tour, where ‘gremlins’ leap out in the dark from behind bushes and trees. We swim in the pool at our caravan site, or take Sam’s kayak out on the sea if the weather and the water is calm. When there’s a low spring tide we walk out to St. Helens fort and know we have one hour to get there and back again before the sea covers the path.

Relatives and friends will sometimes rent caravans on the site or nearby, and Sam will fire up the BBQ. It’s a great life, and I miss the Island in the winter. We’re on holiday as soon as we drive off the ferry. Below are a few memories we’ve made over the years. From left to right:

Cycling along Ryde Pier.

On the steps of our caravan with our 3 grandsons.

Sam in his kayak with St. Helens fort in the background.

On the Tennyson Trail on my way up to the Tennyson monument.

Jammin’ with Jimi at the IOW Festival.

On the Tennyson Trail again.

Quarr Abbey, a beautifully quiet place.

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