6 March 2016
We’ve been on the Isle of Wight for a weekend with Mum & Dad.
I know. We went on a tour of the Island to show Charlie some of the bits we hadn’t visited before.
I was devastated that Blackgang Chine – the oldest amusement park in the world – was closed until March 19th. We were not the only ones blinking in the cold chill wind with disappointment…. although to be fair I was perhaps a bit more disappointed than Charlie, or Mum…Or indeed Dad (who has never visited and announced he was going to spend an hour napping in the car). There is something so poetic about out of season holiday resports, which only our friend Ruth Guilding over at The Bible of British Taste truly understands, I sometimes think.
We meandered on through quiet island lanes, and the sometimes sparkling bright, sometimes cloudy morning, to Ventnor, a Victorian seaside town on the south-eastern corner of the island, renowned as one of the sunniest spots in Britain.
The town is built into a steep cliff, with vast Victorian mansions jostling for the view like so many crinoline-clad ladies at a Ball. Curiously, it reminded both Charlie and me very much of Oamaru, in New Zealand (for readers of the blog who know that strange and beautiful sandstone town).
The signs on the post office in town (crying out for a polish) somewhat signify the Isle of Wight’s relationship to the outside world.
A beautiful font, mind you.
Several of the shops have fabulous historic facades, like this art Deco shop complete with multiple display cases. Not all the contents were quite so dramatic.
The following sign was pasted to a shop window which contained a mass of interesting junk, and reminded me of a novel by Alan Bennett.
A great place.
I loved this team of china shire horses in someone’s window.High on the hill, old Victorian mansions overlook the town:
We discovered an extraordinary antique shop filled, completely filled with clocks of every description:
This beautiful Regency facade has suffered a little – compare the font of ‘Woodford’ and ‘House’. I like the contrast, though, so much more than if the whole place was perfectly done up. A curious dichotomy isn’t it?
Not all the architecture is fabulous – but the Isle of Wight’s most famous residents are memorialised everywhere.
Of course a white van in the car park has a boat lashed to the roof. This is the Isle of Wight.
Rays of sunshine caught the horizon far out to sea,
While below us children larked about on a giant map of the Isle of Wight, curiously with all the names written upside down (if North is meant to be at the top of the page), and without the paddling pool filled up yet.
Later in the afternoon, back home after lunch, Charlie and I went for a long walk over to the Needles, and the Island was looking beautiful in the wintry March sunlight. Light and shadow, and tones of gold, brown, indigo blue and charcoal grey made one want to be painting, not taking photographs.
You do feel as if you are on top of the earth up here. I love it.
Looking back to the Tennyson monument, bright against dark storm clouds.
At the Needles battery, the silent remains of the rocket testing site that was in use here through the 50s to the 70s. These concrete remnants are like a great house designed by David Chipperfield or Peter Zumthor, cut into the landscape.
Far below are the Needles, which took their name from the tall pinnacle like-rock that one filled the gap – but collapsed in a storm in the 18th century. I think the rocks are getting rather less sharp than they used to in more recent storms, if I’m honest.
We walked home in a golden sunset and had a happy night in the pub with Mum and Dad. Today’s been one of those days where I needed to catch up with work, which was very boring but very necessary. I don’t think I’ve had quite so many deadlines in a long time! All fun… but again, you will need to forgive me if there is an occasional blip in transmission. For now, good night and have a wonderful week. I’m torn between saying ‘Roll on Spring’, and standing terrified at quite how quickly the year seems to be spinning by already. Sounds familiar?