Most of Shanklin closes up once the days get shorter and the weather borders on and sometimes pops over to the inclemental. It is completly different to the buzzing, busy, bustling Shanklin of the summer. The crowded, almost impassable footpaths give way to closed tea shops and only local traffic. It’s almost bliss.
We know because we went there today to visit Sophie and Tom.
Bob and the Hassells were charged with being ready to roll for a relatively early drive to Haslemere station for the usual train, ferry and toy train trip across to the Isle of Wight. And they were ready; milling around the cars like eager tourists waiting for an umbrella wielding tour guide.
The journey was all pretty uneventful, with the occasional Gaz History talk (“That’s where we used to live“, “That’s HMS Warrior, built in 1860 at Thames Ironworks“, “These small trains were once Tube trains, retired now to an island life.“) until we all descended on Sophie’s log cabin for a delicious buffet style Middle Eastern feast. There was also lots of chatter and laughs. And rain, of course.
Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough for us to take a walk down to the seaside, passing through the Old Town with it’s thatched roofs.
It was then a long walk down the steep stairs to the sand and surf of Shanklin beach. Quite a bit of time was spent finding various pretty stones and a brief and inadequate lesson in geology. Lauren was quite excited about the piece of water smoothed crockery which I dated to around the 18th century and was determined to take it home.
A stop at the Steamer Inn was necessary so everyone could have hot chocolate or coffee (except for me – I obviously had a beer) where we happily chatted away until it was time to walk back to Sophie’s. I say ‘walk’ but not all of us ‘walked’. A few less hardy souls were driven back. I’m not going to point the finger.
The return trip was almost as uneventful except for a frantic search for Lauren and Jason when it was time to board the ferry. I thought we were going to have to leave them on the Isle of Wight (forever) but they’d just gone to the loo and eventually came dashing out just as the gangplank was being lifted and we started heading back to Portsmouth.
Following a brief stop at Waitrose for necessary provisions, we returned to our respective abodes and I went and picked the dogs up from Sue (they’d spent a lovely day, tramping over the Devil’s Punchbowl and playing with Pippa).
A splendid day.