21.4.08

Isle of Wight


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Originally uploaded by fred pipes
For my second coach adventure (I have yet to use my national bus pass!) I travelled to the Isle of Wight (never been there before) on Sunday with Worthing Coaches. I really really hate getting up early, but managed to cycle down to town for the 7.40am start and felt pretty rough as it trundled west, picking up passengers from towns mentioned in Lemon Jelly's 'Ramblin' Man' - Rustington, Southwick, Goring, Ferring, Angmering (well, not really, only Angmering is mentioned in the song and we didn't stop there). After passing Arundel and Chichester we arrived at the Southsea ferry terminal for the 10am cruise. I avoided the tea queue and sat on deck drinking miso soup from my flask and watching strange round forts float by in the misty distance. It's only a short half-hour hop (even quicker by hovercraft) and you can see the other side as soon as you take off! We docked at Fishbourne and were quickly on the road to Ryde and along the southern edge of the island, which was much hillier than I'd imagined. We stopped for lunch at steep Shanklin (never did discover where the beach was!), so I bought postcards of the Six or Seven Wonders (depending on which postcard) of the Isle of Wight (Needles you cannot thread, etc), and waited for The Crab to open at 12. Grabbed a pint of Goddard's and ordered a crab sandwich, which was huge. It was warm enough to sit outside, but generally the weather was a bit overcast and damp. Then we were off west down narrow lanes to see the real thing. The view of The Needles from Alum Bay is not great - to get a good view you really need to take a boat trip. Then it was back west, stopping at Godshill for tea. It's one of those villages invented for coach trips, with a huge car park and nearly every building a tea shop. I was attracted by the offer in The Hollies of a toasted tea cake and cup of tea for two quid. I followed this with a two quid ice cream (rum 'n' raisin) made by the Minghella family. I didn't pay to go in the toy museum, nor the model village, but did buy two scuptural looking succulents for 70p each. Then it was back to Fishbourne for the ferry. The weather was getting rough and I snapped a rainbow over Ryde pier before a squall came whipping in, so watched the water sloshing round the decks from inside with a can of McEwens (no draught beer). We followed a big Brittany ferry into Portsmouth, where we got a glimpse of the Spinnaker Tower and HMS Warrior, then home to catch the last episode of Foyle's War. Thanks Dave! I gave him a two quid tip. I'm not sure about these things, but seem to remember that you always tip the coach driver!
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