6 March 2016
Ben Pentreath

We’ve been on the Isle of Wight for a weekend with Mum & Dad.P1070855

I know. We went on a tour of the Island to show Charlie some of the bits we hadn’t visited before. P1070858

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).P1070856 P1070857 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.
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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.P1070865

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).P1070866 P1070867 P1070869 P1070871 P1070872 P1070873 P1070874 P1070875

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.P1070877

A beautiful font, mind you.P1070878 P1070882 P1070883

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.
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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. P1070895

A great place.P1070896

I loved this team of china shire horses in someone’s window.P1070897High on the hill, old Victorian mansions overlook the town:P1070898

We discovered an extraordinary antique shop filled, completely filled with clocks of every description:P1070899 P1070900

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?P1070902

Not all the architecture is fabulous – but the Isle of Wight’s most famous residents are memorialised everywhere.P1070903 P1070908

Of course a white van in the car park has a boat lashed to the roof. This is the Isle of Wight.P1070909

Rays of sunshine caught the horizon far out to sea, P1070911

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.P1070912

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.P1070923 P1070924 P1070925 P1070927

You do feel as if you are on top of the earth up here. I love it.P1070929 P1070930 P1070931 P1070933

Looking back to the Tennyson monument, bright against dark storm clouds.
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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.P1070942 P1070943

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.P1070944 P1070945 P1070946 P1070949 P1070950 P1070951 P1070953 P1070964 P1070965 P1070966 P1070973

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?

7 comments on this post

Cornelia Harrietsays:

I was just thinking this week, there are so many ways to look at a photo. First I looked at photos of just myself and my mother, not many! And then I looked at photos where she is smiling. And then photos showing her hands. I hope you had a wonderful mother’s day, I was just looking at a photo of my mother sitting in the beach at the needles. She sits staring into the sea perhaps contemplating. My brother sits sketching and my other brother sits throwing stones. Three ways to self reflect, perhaps writting a blog is a way to self reflect. I like staring out of Windows, perhaps something to think about when designing yours! Unless it’s a stain glass window. I enjoyed the the observation about the unpolished brass post office, that used to be my job at home to polish the Victorian front door knocker, if one were to be in one’s front garden! Great news my eldest daughter was accepted into her first choice of art school so hopefully I shall be visiting your shop soon. When I visit her for lunch. I’m not actually quite sure where Bloomsbury is. I visited a derelict fairground in Prague reminded me of the beauty of out of season.


Did you visit Dismaland at Weston-super-Mare, Banksy’s creation? Not so much Needles off the IOW as Decaying Molars now; but the seascapes are tremendous. Thank you also for the tour of Ventnor, Am rather partial to a Victorian/Edwardian villa by the sea. Best, Nicola


I O W buildings do sometimes appear a little ‘shabby'(‘all that salt, darlings’)- it’s as though we are supposed to concentrate on the breathtakingly beautiful scenery which will still be there long after the man-made structures have gone. Thankyou for your blog!
ps does anyone ever actually buy all that crap for sale in ‘tourist’ shops? probably not, that’s why it’s still there, gathering dust!

Thank you for the beautiful sea pictures. It looks cold and windy there too. I hope you had a wonderful weekend — even though the park was closed.
xo, lissy


Me encantan las fotos de los acantilados. Son maravillosas!!!


Ahh- I was lucky enough to be in Ventnor / Bonchurch too. When the sun shines there are few better places to be…..

David Sanderssays:

I really like that you have covered two of my favourite places this week Ben. The Isle Wight of course, because I spent a working holiday there one summer, working on a farm. Then there is dear old Oamaru NZ, where I spent many summer holidays as a child, staying with my grand-parents.My English born grandfather was a retired farmer. You’re quite right, Ventnor does have a bit of the feel of Oamaru, the older,southern part of the town anyway – with its many original Victorian buildings sill extant. Just one minor correction though, Oamaru stone is compact limestone, not a sandstone.

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