DAY 8: SUNDAY, AUGUST 28th

by grace on August 28, 2011

“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now…we can rent a cottage on the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear…”

Do you remember that part of “When I’m 64?”  i love that song, and when i was trying to plan for our trip, i became overwhelmed with the many possibilities of places we could visit.  i kept writing to our friend Carol and asking her her opinion on different places, and one place i mentioned was the isle of wight.

I decided that we wouldn’t go there after all, because there wasn’t time, plus we weren’t renting a car so it wouldn’t be so easy to get to.

And then, when we arrived at carol and alan’s house, they told us that they had planned a trip to the isle of wight!  since they were already driving us to portsmouth/southampton, they decided we could take a day trip over to the isle of wight, on the wight ferry.

This was our last full day in England, and it was a fun way to spend it.

here’s the backyard of the lovely b&b we stayed at, the Heather Gables.

there were a couple of deer in the empty yard next door.  the deer looked scrawnier than the deer around here.

here we are, on the Wight Ferry, leaving Portsmouth for the Isle of Wight.  in the video you can see a lot more of the journey because for some reason i felt the need to do a lot of videotaping.  it was such a beautiful day.

here’s a photo of the Spinnaker Tower – this should be in a travel brochure for the place, i think.

as we sailed past portsmouth, there was a big kite festival going on at an amusement park.  i have more video than this, including a huge smurf balloon.

we saw a few scooters getting on the wight ferry, and then more when we got to the island.  there was a huge scooter rally, it turns out.  they all seemed to be heading to the town of Rye, one of the first that we drove through.  i have some footage of the scooters whizzing along the road.

we didn’t really stop, though, til we got to the little town of Shanklin.  lovely little place.

there were lots of people on the beach, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking…i can’t exactly remember the temperature that day, but i don’t think it was super warm.  the english, though, they’re very hardy.

here’s a panorama shot that kevin took as we drove along the south coast.  it was all so beautiful.

funny, that they have palm trees.  it could be florida, or california.

we were going to have dinner at carol and alan’s daughter’s house that night, and i realized it would be good to bring a bottle of wine or two.  we stopped at a little wine shop in the town of Ventnor, and they happened to be having a wine tasting, which was lucky.  carol and i went in, and the shopkeeper was kind of busy, and he told us to JUST HELP OURSELVES.  have you ever, ever been at a wine-tasting where they told you that?  nope, me neither.

so carol and i did help ourselves, filling our glasses to the top.  alan and kevin were waiting out in the car, but kevin poked his head in to take this picture.

we stopped at a couple of other places, including a glass-blowing shop, and a little very touristy town called godshill.  tour buses were pouring into godshill, and we walked around a little bit but there were too many crowds, plus it was drizzling at that point.

i don’t think carol and alan had been to the isle of wight in 20 years, and one place they had loved was called the needles.  it’s a row of chalk formations on the tip of the island, and here’s what wikipedia has to say about them:

The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, England, close to Alum Bay. The Needles lighthouse stands at the end of the formation. Built in 1859, it has been automated since 1994.

The formation takes its name from the former fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot’s Wife that used to stand in its midst until it collapsed in a storm in 1764.[3] The remaining rocks are all short and squat and not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck.

I think that’s funny about the name, especially since the needle-shaped pillar collapsed in 1764!

the needles are way off there in the distance.  you can only get to them by little tourist boats.

and here’s a huge hill of heather.

here’s a closer shot of the needles, with the lighthouse at the end.  we did finally see them the next day when we were leaving southampton on the QM2, and i have some sort of fuzzy video of it.

unfortunately, the area has changed a lot since carol and alan were last there.  now there’s a carnival with all kinds of rides and food and stuff, and a huge, huge car park that was pretty filled up when we went.

they said that when they went there before, they could walk down the cliffs and the chalk had settled into different-colored ribbons, and was beautiful.  i guess that’s not allowed anymore because of the erosion.

we didn’t linger at the needles, but instead hurried through the middle of the island to get to the Osborne House, which carol and alan had bought tickets for.  the Osborne House was built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as a summer house, and Queen Victoria loved it there.

they thought the palace was open until six, but it actually closed at 5.  we got there at 4:15.  not a lot of time to tour the place, so we basically sprinted through the rooms – they were nice, but most of them weren’t so lavish, except for the fabulous Durbar Room at the very end, which was built to look Indian.  Fabulous.

here’s a photo of it that i found online:

we didn’t get to spend as much time there as i’d have liked, but since we’d hurried through the other rooms we did get to look at things in detail a little. in the cases are gifts that victoria received for her golden and diamond jubilees…i wonder if queen elizabeth will have such a grand place for showing off the gifts she got from her jubilees.

we did get to spend more time in the gardens, which i really loved.  i took lots of video and photos, and kevin took lots of photos.

it’s just so lovely, with the italianate gardens in the foreground and the sea in the background.  lovely.

kevin always likes to take a picture of me videotaping.

yay! a picture of us together!

this fountain was my favorite…i took some video of it, and then again after they shut it off just a few minutes later.

here’s the whole thing, with no water flowing from it.

i loved these huge grape arbors.

Victoria and Albert’s children made the bricks for this fort.   They had nine kids, and they tried to have them learn things outside of the royal life.  i bet none of them became bricklayers, though.

i describe this in the video – it’s victoria’s bathing cottage.  she’d go in the little room to change into her bathing suit, and servants would wheel the whole thing down into the water and she’d be able to discreetly slip into the water without anybody seeing her.  apparently this was a common thing for 19th century fine ladies.  a curtain was drawn all around the whole thing so she wouldn’t be seen.  this doesn’t seem like the most fun way to swim, really.  but on the other hand, i’m kind of in favor of those old-fashioned bathing costumes that were basically dresses with stockings.  i could do without the stockings, but i would not be opposed to wearing a dress instead of a bathing suit.

after our exciting visit to the osborne house we spent some time in the gift shop.  they had samples of damson liqueur, which is like sloe gin, only made with english damson berries.  i had a sample, then i bought a bottle.  i just opened it a couple of weeks ago, and i’d have a drink right now if it wasn’t the middle of the day and i still have to go to zumba tonight.  we bought many other souvenirs, too, then made our way back to the ferry.

as we sailed back to portsmouth we saw this ship.  it looked a lot like the queen mary, and in the video you can hear me prattling on about how it’s definitely the queen mary.  it’s not, though, it’s the queen elizabeth, and she’s heading out to sea.  i think the queen mary probably docked in southampton on monday morning, not on sunday.  it’s neat, though, and does give you an idea of what our ship looked like – that’s the thing, when you’re on it, you never get this magnificent view of it.

it was a beautiful evening.

when we got back to portsmouth, we went to carol and alan’s daughter and son–law’s house for a wonderful dinner.  i think emma made a chicken curry, and a homemade fruit something for dessert.  mmmmm.

we spent one last night at our b&b, and the next day we set sail!

VIDEO #8

ok then,

mrs. hughes.

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