The Wednesday saw us on the road again and heading south, through Newport, eventually emerging on the coast at Blackgang Chine on the south western tip of the Island. Our route had been rather circuitous, thanks to me driving and Trev reading the map. Talk about the optically challenged leading the optically challenged. Anyway the park was, not surprisingly closed, but a little further up was a parking area that afforded great views of the south western coastline. You will see from the photo that yet again it was overcast, but imagine that view in the sunshine. It would have been terrific.
Next up, and what was actually our intended destination in the first place, was the coastal resort of Ventnor. Nicknamed – according to my bumpf – the English Madeira, we’ve passed through before on our various day trips but it had always been rammed and parking spaces were non-existent. There was no such problem this time, and having paused at the Botanic gardens for coffee, we parked up, fed the meter and when for a stroll.
The town is effectively divided in to two, the centre above on the cliff face and the seaside resort below, the cliffs shielding the beach from the weather and giving a more Mediterranean climate to the weather. Although clearly not today.
A short – and blustery walk along one of the coastal paths rewarded us with some fantastic views.
Just a short drive north east was Shanklin, in fact we happened upon it much quicker than expected, forgetting that the Isle if Wight is not that big.
Shanklin – or the old village part if it anyway – is pure picture postcard – cosy cottages, winding streets and quaint pubs. Given the time of year it was understandably almost entirely devoid of tourists too. So much so, that it felt as if you were wandering around a deserted film set. Some of the shops and cafes had clearly closed up for the winter and had not yet reopened.
Again, we’d been here before, most recently on our weekend stay a few years back. Having visited in the morning and noted the interesting selection of boozers, sorry, research venues we returned in the evening for a meal. So far so good.
It was Saturday night and quite busy and if we’d been sensible about it we’d have booked a table. However, we eventually found a pub that could accommodate us. Well, the beer was good and the food was excellent. Our table was cleared and we contemplated the desert menu when a woman came up to our table and asked rather awkwardly if we had stolen any cutlery! We said no – obviously – and she said OK and left! It really was most bizarre. With all thoughts of a desert having vanished, we settled up and left. Typical, you might say, if the cap fits and all that. But this was some four years before we bought Patsy, so there were no Pikean tendencies. A debrief in another pub brought us to the conclusion that it was a group of locals at the bar who didn’t like having their pub invaded by tourists and had a little laugh at our expense. Fair enough. The spoons came in handy though…
Right, back to the present. Have committed sights to memory, both digital and human, we returned to Rosie and headed for the seafront below via the cliff tops for some fantastic views along the coastline and to Sandown. There is a lift, but not surprisingly given the time of year it was closed.
Some refuelling was required and one of the seafront restaurants was open. We hurried in out of the cold and probably doubled their takings for the day with an order of two bowls of chips and two teas. We had an interesting chat with the waitress about the state of the island generally. She said things weren’t good – industry was declining – and laid a fair portion of blame at the feet of the ferry companies who, she believed, held locals to ransom who had to commute to find work and kept tourists away with high fares. I couldn’t possibly comment but I do know there has been talk over the years of building a bridge across. Of course that wouldn’t be to everyone’s benefit….
Heading back, we stopped on the way at Arreton Barns Craft village. You can see local craftsmen in action and the farm shop was packed with goodies. There is a delightful walk through that ancient village taking in the pond and the 12th century church. Below you will see me pictured with a big er, organ…. (I’ve always wanted to use that one)
We somehow resisted the lure of the pub and headed back to the site and the welcoming warmth of Patsy.
The evening saw us emerge again, to check out the two watering holes in East Cowes that we had spotted and were within walking distance. Neither were busy, but the atmosphere in both The Ship & Castle and White Hart Inn was warm and friendly.
So, there endeth Part 3. Look out for the final part where we head west and reveal what we’re up to next.