|It was a weary group gathered at 7am for the pickup by our coach which took us over to the Isle of Wight with the coach loaded onto,the ferry along with the cars and trucks. Breakfast on the ferry, fortunately a smooth crossing as the locals lined up for the full English. This weekend is the Isle of Wight Festival - pop music for young and old with pop musicians young and old. Rod Stewart is to be the main act on Sunday. The numbers are down significantly this year, possibly in response to the terrorist concern, and the ticket touts have left the island already, rather out of pocket.
Our first stop was at Carisbrooke Castle built originally in the 1200's and added to over the years with some famous occupants. Charles I was impriosned here after being moved from Hampton Court Palace and made several attempt escapes before his removal to London for a hasty trial and execution. In more recent times it was the summer home of Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria.
The donkey well was demonstrated by an obliging donkey, Jack, but in earlier times the wheel would have been worked by prisoners bringing the water up to supply the castle.
A trip to the Needles a rock formation at Alum Bay on the south west of the island had plenty of visitors with a fun park similar to what would have been the rides and entertainments on the pier. A double decker bus took us up for a cliff top drive where bunkers housed the story of the development of Britain's efforts to launch a satellite with rocket trials. The one and only British satellite was eventually launched from Woomera and is expected to orbit for another 150 years although it no longer functions. Its development was in the years of the Cold War so what went on here had to be kept secret from the locals.
Visited two seaside towns - Ventnor and Shanklin - which showed the popularity of the island as a holiday resort with hotels and shops catering to the tourists and we did the tourist thing and enjoyed a cream tea ( Devonshire tea) in a garden in Shanklin. There is agricultural activity including huge glass houses for tomatoes; interesting given the demise of the tomato industry on Guernsey post EU.
Our hotel in Cowes greeted us warmly and helped get our bags up,the narrow stairs. We look out into the sea and enjoyed our pre dinner drinks and then coffee on the terrace, The locals suggested that this is not something often enjoyed despite the micro climate which attracts the crowds.