The Isle of Wight has always held a specialplace in my heart, as one of my earliest holiday memories was being gentlyroused at 4am and bundled into the car for an early start on the familyholiday. The ferry crossing in particular always stuck in my mind; as a childit felt like we were heading somewhere really far away and exotic.
Being a nostalgic soul, I still feel thisway every time I visit this charming and fun-packed island off the coast ofHampshire and our recent low-season break was no different.
We took the Red Funnel ferry fromSouthampton, where we were impressed with the theatrical flourishes of thewarden showing us on to the boat (see our video below!).
The Red Funnel ferry warden loving his job!
The quick and hassle-free journey saw usdisembark at East Cowes and as we had some time to spare before check-in,headed straight for the nearest antiques and collectables emporium we couldfind – Dores Hill Farm Emporium. After a good hour or so of browsing, weemerged with some new records, some vintage clothing and a space-age 1960sstyle egg chair – all at a bargain price.
Then it was on to Ryde for late lunch and aleisurely mooch around the shops. If you are a fan of vintage and retro like Iam, don’t miss Dig for Vintage, a well-stocked shop full of quality vintageclothing and homewares. I was pretty pleased to find a sought-after psychedelicspun fiberglass lampshade there as I’d been after one for some time.
Just behind the high street in Ryde,abandoned architecture fans can marvel at the disused and slightly spooky butspectacular Royal York Hotel – a late 1930s art deco beauty of a building nowstanding dilapidated and decaying – despite apparently being listed in the late1990s. If I win the EuroMillions it’s mine!
Then it was off to our base to meet up withthe rest of the family for fish’n’chips and a good long rest.
The next day was already planned – I hadbooked up a trip to West Wight Alpacas for an alpaca and llama walk – a verynovel experience I can highly recommend! On arrival we were met by the friendlyteam and taken up to meet our new buddies. There were very cute alpacas, andsome rather majestic llamas ready to accompany us – one of which looked like hewas sporting a 1960s afghan hippy coat, which immediately drew me to him. Hisname was Icarus, and we were destined for each other. Thankfully he was prettywell behaved on our walk, and I was trying to convince my partner to let me geta llama all the way home. I also awarded myself with a rather fetching pair ofalpaca wool gloves which are the warmest I have ever had. Thanks, chaps!
Icarus the Llama, my friendly walking companion.
In the evening we decided to take a trip toWaltzing Waters (the Isle of Wight’s answer to Barcelona’s Magic Fountain of Montjuïc!), an attraction Ihad the vaguest memories of visiting as a child. It is a 40 minute showfeaturing water, lights and music – dancing fountains (or liquid fireworks, ifyou will), and is housed in a rather retro theatre next to the Tesco Extrasupermarket in Ryde. It was every bit as colourful, mesmerizing and kitsch as Ihad recalled, and my 6 year old niece couldn’t resist dancing for pretty muchthe entire show, so it seems she felt the same way.
Alum Bay and The Needles
On our last day we took a trip back across tothe other side of the island to visit Alum Bay’s famous lighthouse and TheNeedles. My niece and I braved the very precarious looking (but very safe)chair lift – everyone else in our group was too scared, but we’re hardcore!Having ogled the multi-coloured cliffs and stunning views, and having filledthe obligatory souvenir lighthouse with pastel-toned layers of sand, we wereoff to our last stop – the Electric Woods at Robin Hill Country Park.
A tree dressed up with lanterns at Robin Hill Country Park
The five-acre site of ancient woodland wasdressed for Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and truly was a sight tobehold. The magical ambience created by the colourful lanterns in the trees,along the paths and set in the woodland glades was quite hypnotic, and theparade was fantastic fun – especially for my niece who enjoyed dancing with thelovely Bollywood dancers whilst we tucked in to tasty Indian street food. Thecolour walk was also a highlight – scurrying through the otherwise darkwoodland paths clutching our pouches of brightly coloured ‘Holi’ powder to wardoff ‘evil spirits’. As you might imagine, we emerged wearing most of the powderourselves thanks to a certain 6 year old, but luckily it washes off easily!
Brother and niece in holi powder carnage! (Don’t worry- it washes off!)
After all that fun, we headed back to base and were all sleeping like babies by 11pm.
In the morning, we arrived at the terminala little early (and reluctantly) for our return home, so decided to stop offfor coffee and cake at the tearooms at Osborne House, former holiday home ofQueen Victoria and Prince Albert. Although we didn’t get a chance to visit thehouse itself this time around, I was glad to at least be in close proximity tothis decadent and historic abode and would definitely include it on the ‘MustSee’ list for those who haven’t been before.
After a nice warm mocha and a mostdelicious slice of cake, we were on our way back home to Essex via the ferry toSouthampton, already planning a return visit.
If you fancy planning a trip to thismagical destination, check out our amazing selection of unique and unusualholiday accommodation on the Isle of Wight.