Today was forecast to be the hottest of the year so far. Okay, that’s not THAT hot but even so, it was with great relief that we set off for the Isle of Wight to visit with Suzanne and Rafi.
Our usual, easy trip to Haslemere didn’t go as smoothly as usual. The bakery was a little slow in opening this morning, which made me late back from shopping, which meant Mirinda didn’t have a lot of time to wake up and get moving.
Even so, we made it with five minutes to spare and not particularly stressed. There were a lot of other people with the same idea as us so the train was pretty crowded. When this happens and if the train is a 450, we take full advantage of the South West Trains first class upgrade weekend special (an extra £5 paid to the guard). Normally this ensures that the trip will be quiet, comfortable and pleasant.
Also on the train with us and sat either side of the first class carriage, were two groups of children without any obvious parental supervision. Various members of these groups, including one particularly obnoxious girl, spent the entire trip walking back and forth, through the first class compartment.
I know this sounds peevish but the thing is, the automatic doors at either end were almost permanently swishing back and forth. By the time we reached Havant, one guy had decided he’d had enough and moved to the other first class carriage at the end of the train. I was about to suggest that Mirinda trip over the next child that invaded when an announcement by the train guard made our hearts sink.
There had been a trespass on the track and we would be delayed for a bit. This ‘bit’ continually changed with subsequent announcements to five minutes, six minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour…then it changed from a simple trespass to a suicide attempt. The electricity had been turned off and there would be an indefinite wait. Mirinda suggested we get a taxi to the ferry.
And we had a very jolly driver to do just that. We had a splendid tour of the back streets of Portsmouth, including passing by the celebrity speed camera. This camera has caught Ann Robinson, some guy off Eastenders and footballer Jermaine Defoe. I wonder if they autographed the images before paying their fines.
So we turned up at the ferry late but with enough time to buy a latte and queue with a load of other people lucky enough not to be on the train. Judging from the indicators at the station, our train was still sitting at Havant. We boarded the ferry, happy in the knowledge that the annoying groups of kids were still on it.
I, of course, took full advantage of being near the front of the queue, to stake myself a claim upstairs on the sun deck. Now, I wasn’t after a seat. Oh, no. What I was after was a corner position of the rail. Best vantage point for snapping photographs of boats and various other water based activities.
Had I not been in this fine spot, I would have missed the frantic tooting of the ferry as this yacht started turning into our path.
I’m fairly certain that the ferry wasn’t that bothered but I have a feeling the yacht would have been reduced to so much flotsam and jetsam had it continued on it’s course. But all was safe, and it merely turned in the opposite direction, waiting for us to pass.
Meanwhile, downstairs, there had been a lot of texts going back and forth between Mirinda and Suzanne. The plan had been to meet at Ryde but the time had to be continually amended. Anyway, all ended well enough and we all met up at Ryde Pier Head and set off for the Needles.
Having parked the car, we had a bit of a grizzle from Rafi when he didn’t get his own way. He wanted to go on a ride at the funfair first but we wanted to walk to the Needles. Obviously we had our way but he was a bit miserable for a lot of the walk. As we said, it will do him good to understand a bit of disappointment.
The last time we walked to the Needles, the Battery wasn’t open so our glimpses of the rocks were just that however, today it was open and we could go all the way to the fence and see them in all their glory.
It’s interesting if you put this alongside Pointe Naz in Brittany. No fence, no restrictions, crazy people allowed to endanger their own lives, etc…all a bit more Health and Safety in Britain. Mind you, the land does belong to the National Trust and they may be a bit more aware of their insurance premiums than the French.
The Battery itself was quite interesting though we almost didn’t get in. The woman on the desk was very generous. I’d left our membership cards in the car so we’d have to pay but Mirinda told her we were members and she said she could ring head office and let us in if we passed a security test.
This NEVER happens. There are signs everywhere stating, in no uncertain terms, that if you don’t have your membership card with you, you can’t get in without paying. This lady, however, did just that. She rang someone up, told them the name, address and membership type and we were in. Fantastic. Just another reason to love the National Trust.
Here is a photo of the actual Needles. We think that the gap is where Lot’s wife once stood but she collapsed into the sea in the 19th century some time.
After the long walk back to the funfair type attractions that are oddly situated at the top of the cliff and ski lift to the beach, we thought it only right that Mirinda and I should sit in a tea shop for some much deserved sustenance while poor Suzanne dragged Rafi onto a couple of rides he just couldn’t live without.
And I have to say, we appear to have found the best tea shop EVER!
It isn’t the greatest because it has great tea or scones or cake…oh no. It’s great because not only does it serve tea, scones and cake, it is also licensed! Absolutely perfect! (Okay, the beer they served was actually rubbish, but it is a step in the right direction.)
Having refreshed ourselves with our various refreshments, we headed off to Freshwater for…more refreshments. Rafi, showing great skill and fortitude, was sent into the bar to buy his own drink and came back laden with Appletiser.
I was very impressed…I didn’t think he’d be able to see over the bar.
We then headed off to Suzanne and Rafi’s for a very late lunch/early dinner before she drove us back to Ryde for the ferry home.
It was a lovely day and, I’m glad to say, featured no suicides on the way home.