Friday 8 September 2017

A Mini Break on the Isle of Wight

Living on the South Coast, you'd think that the Isle of Wight would be a regular trip for us. Sadly not, we worked out that the last time we visited, we didn't even have mobile phones!

Elliot has been asking to go there ever since we watched a programme about the fossils on the beaches so last week, we booked a last minute trip. It started out as a one day trip but we decided to book accommodation and squeeze another day in! 

We caught the ferry from Lymington and 40 minutes later we were on our way - such a quick trip! Everything is relatively close on the Isle of Wight as it is only 23 miles from east to west so we knew we'd be able to squeeze a fair amount in. Our first stop was meant to be Carisbrooke Castle but the long queues made us ditch that idea and instead we ended up in Godshill which is a really pretty little village but very popular with coach parties! We had a little browse round the shops and stopped for an ice cream to cool down a bit.

We drove onwards and headed towards Shanklin where we headed for the beach and looked for a parking spot. It was BUSY!! We ended up parking right at the top of the cliffs - it was hard enough walking down, I wasn't looking forward to the hike back up later!

After a quick lunch on the seafront, Elliot and Paul went off to play dinosaur themed Crazy golf whilst I fed Erin. They were gone for ages...Paul said it was never ending but Elliot seemed to enjoy it! We spent the next few hours having a wander along the seafront..and wasting money on he grabber machines in the arcade!

Don't pet the animals....!
I really wasn't looking forward to the walk back up to the car but luckily, there was a cliff lift - woohoo! It cost us a couple of quid but that was money well spent I reckon ;)

Our next stop was Sandown, another seaside town located just along the coast from Shanklin and we made our way to Dinosaur Isle - a dinosaur museum that had been recommended to us. As it was nearing the end of the day, it was nice and quiet and we really enjoyed having a look at all the displays. Elliot even did a little Facebook live video! 

Our bed for the night was at the Travelodge in Ryde - I think the hotel was quite new because everything seemed quite fresh. We had a decent sized family room and the hotel was in a great location near the main town centre but I just wish Travelodge had aircon in their hotels. I hate feeling hot and sweaty :-/

We ate at a lovely place for dinner that we found on Trip Advisor called The Alamo. It didn't look much from the outside but it was one of the best meals we've had! A lovely little steakhouse - amazing food and so helpful. I'm still dreaming about my fajitas now! 

The next morning we were up bright and early and were on the road just after 8am. We had booked onto a fossil hunt on a beach near Freshwater - again, found on Trip Advisor! There were around 30 people on the trip and it was brilliant. Our guide showed us many different fossils and stones and we heard all about the dinosaurs that walked the beaches before us all those years ago. Alot of it went over Elliot's head but he loved finding potential fossils and running over to our guide to find out what they were! 

The highlight of the morning was seeing Iguanadon footprints on the beach. They are stone now but were formed when mud and sand filled the footprints left by the dinosaurs. It's such an amazing thing to see, it really gives you a sense of how big the dinosaurs were!

We had a really enjoyable morning on the beach and Elliot came away with a carrier bag of fossils and interesting things he'd found! Our tummies were now rumbling so we jumped in the car and headed in the direction of Alum Bay and hoped we'd find somewhere nice to eat on the way.

A quick look on Trip Advisor pointed us in the direction of the Waterfront Bar and Restaurant where we had some lovely fish and chips over looking the sea - it was a beautiful view and we could see all the way to Dorset in the distance!

Our last stop for the day was Alum Bay, somewhere I have fond memories of visiting as a child. We had a few holidays on the Isle of Wight as children and I remember filling up some little ornanments with the coloured sand!

These days, you can still fill ornaments with coloured sand but you can also end up spending ALOT more money there if you're not careful. The park is free to enter but everything inside such as the children's rides, shops, 3D cinema come at a cost!

Elliot and I went on the chairlift which was a bit of a hair raising experience - the chair lift looks about 100 years old and there are no belts, just a bar which comes down. I spent the whole time hanging onto Elliot and worrying about him slipping through the gap eek! Aside from that though, it was a pleasant trip - the views are breathtaking and you can see for miles on the way down. You can spot all the coloured sand in the cliffs and have a paddle in the sea at the bottom if you wish. We stayed on and came straight back up (to avoid the queues at the bottom!) and Elliot said it was terrifying!!

The tackiness of the park wasn't really for us so we decided to walk up to the Needles viewpoint. It's a gentle stroll along the cliff with some spectacular views across the Solent and only takes around 15 minutes.

There is a higher viewpoint located near the old rocket testing site and this is free, but to get a bit closer you need to enter via the Needles Old Battery and New Battery which is National Trust property. Fortunately we are NT members so we didn't have to pay - just as well too as they were about to close and we only had about 10 mins to look around!

Elliot and Paul headed down the underground tunnel which takes you to a viewing platform inside the cliffs - not very buggy friendly so I stayed up top and admired the views!

Time was marching on now so it was time for us to make our way back to the carpark (quicker on the way down with Elliot sat on the buggy!) and we headed back to Yarmouth to catch our ferry.

We had such a lovely couple of days on the Isle of Wight - there is so much to offer for families and I can't wait to go back to explore the parts we didn't see!

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