The Isle of Wight is where my mum's family hail from and it's a place that I have fond memories of, both as a child and as a big kid!
by dkm1981 on December 3, 2009
I've already written about the seven wonders of the Isle of Wight, but there are many other towns that don't make it onto that list, but that are very much worth the visit anyway.SandownOne of the island's most popular towns, it attracts visitors from all over the world. The reason for this is probably its many attractions including the Culver Pier, the Isle of Wight Zoo and the seafront arcades. Another reason for its popularity is its many, many facilities. Here in Sandown, you'll find plenty of hotels suiting all budgets as well as a busy high street and as many restaurants, cafes and bars as you can shake a stick at. Sandown offers the quintessential English beach holiday for many tourists and this is why they (both young and old) return year after year.ShanklinShanklin is right 'next door' to Sandown and whilst Sandown is very much a modern beach town, Shanklin offers a more traditional English beach holiday. It still offers all the attractions, facilities and amenities that you would expect from a beach resort, but in a much more traditional and (in my opinion) a much less gaudy way than its sister resort. Shanklin is more about appreciating the area for what it is and has been than creating new and up-to-date attractions. Here you will find the simple pleasures of a crazy golf course, children's play area and picturesque promenade.Shanklin used to have a pier, but that was unfortunately destroyed in the 'Great Storm of 1987', however its remnants can still be seen just at the edge of the coastline, where it drifted to.GurnardThis is a very small town next to Cowes. I'll be honest, there is very little to see and do here, but I couldn't resist adding it to my list solely for the many fond childhood memories I have of Gurnard.There is a beach of sorts (it's a pebble beach and very small) and there's also a large expanse of grass that is surrounded by little beach huts that are available for long term hire.There's also a little cafe right down on the front and a nice pub set back from the beach that offers a good menu for fairly reasonable prices and very good views of the Solent.Gurnard is the home of a sailing school and, as a result, you can spend many an-hour watching the students on their little boats learning to sail. VentnorIs another beach town right at the base of the island and its main feature is its steep roads and rock faces down to the front. The ground here is extremely unstable, resulting in the loss of many buildings to subsidence over the years. This has lead to the locals coining phrase; 'we live near the sea and are getting nearer every day'. Like most of the Isle of Wight, Ventnor is another picturesque town that is home to one or two quaint attractions including the popular botanical gardens. It also has many other parks and gardens as well as a brewery.Ventnor is also home to many popular events throughout the year, not least the annual Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, held in February and attracting many of the genre's top names.Blackgang ChineBlackgang Chine is most notably the home of a popular children's amusement park featuring a selection of rides, attractions and heritage attractions.Unfortuately the ground here is extremely unstable as well, resulting in the vastly and continually changing make-up of the park - many attractions have been lost to subsidence over the years, whilst others are regularly moved to prevent them slipping over the edge.The park is definitely worth a visit for those with children as it offers fun, frolics and a certain amount of learning and is presented in a unusual and entertaining way. Entry is £9.50 per person or you can get a saver ticket for 4 people for £35. Full details can be found on their website - www.blackgangchine.comSo, as you can see there are many attractions and places to visit on the Isle of Wight, making it a fun destination for everybody that will guarantee you many fond memories.
by dkm1981 on November 21, 2009
Sandown is one of the most popular towns on the Isle of Wight with tourists from all over the world, largely due to its wide variety of attractions, including its iconic pier.The pier was originally built over three years from 1867 to 1870, however it has undergone many dramatic facelifts since then, including a massive extension to the 870ft length it is now, eventually resulting in the popular attraction it is today.It originally had a theatre but, after a massive £2m refurbishment after damage caused by a fire in the late 80s, this is no longer a feature. It does, though, have a mass of other facilities and attractions that have taken its place.The pier's crowning glory is its indoor crazy golf course, designed with an aztec theme. No expense has been spared in making it an attraction that will capture the imagination of young and old visitors alike.This central attraction is surrounded by many others. There are plenty of arcades including everything from the penny slot machines right up to the all singing, all dancing and (perhaps most imortantly) all flashing video and simulator games. There is something for everyone here.There is also a bowling alley for those who like a bit of a (friendly) competition and the staff there are more than happy to assist with any queries you might have or help you may need.Other facilities include a cafe, plenty of toilets and many eye-catching shops to get those all important souvenirs or for children to part with their pocket money.Cost-wise, the pier can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. There is no charge to enter the pier and you are free to wander round all of the facilities - perhaps stopping at an arcade game or two. You can however buy a wrist band, that will allow you entry to golf and bowling as well as the outdoor funfair at the end of the pier. I can't remember exactly how much it was, but I do remember thinking that it represented good value for those who wanted to have a go at everything.Personally, we just went to have a wander around and admire the lovely views Sandown whilst enjoying a particularly delicious ice-cream. But, it has to be said that this would make a great, safe and entertaining day out for the whole family.
The people of the Isle of Wight are quite proud of their 'wonders' - that is if you are to believe the countless postcards, tea towels and other souvenirs with them emblazoned accross! There is some debate though as to how many there are, some say six, some say seven and some say eight. However, in accordance with the wonders of the world, I've always believed there were seven and here they are:1. Cowes - you cannot milkIs a small town at the top of the island where the famous Red Funnel passenger and car ferries dock. It is split into two parts (Cowes and East Cowes) by the River Medina. It's a lovely, sleepy little town with a big focus on the sailing community. It absolutely comes alive though during Cowes Week - the world famous sailing meeting that brings in enthusiasts and celebrities in their droves. It's a fabulous time to be there, but book early and don't be surprised by significant price hikes.2. Needles - you cannot threadThe needles are a series of three brilliant white rocks on the Western-most point of the Island. An unlikely tourist attraction, they have become very popular and as a result have become the basis for the Needles theme park. Here you'll find all manner of tourist traps including a fairground, a glass blowing exhibit, a sweet making factory, crazy golf, arcades and the sand art shop. The sand art shop is a popular place where you pick a glass container (available in every shape you can imagine) and you fill it withthe different coloured sands. It makes a very popular, if not a little tacky, souvenir. Also, you'll find a rather decrepit-looking cable car that will take you down to the beach for even better views of the needles away from the chaos of the theme park.3. Newport - you cannot bottleNewport is the Isle of Wight's county town and is located at the end of the River Medina, at the centre of the Island. Here you'll find all the usual things you'd expect to see a typical city centre - shops, restaurants, businesses and clubs. There's also a fairly new cinema and entertainment complex.Parkhurst (a suburb of Newport) is home to three prisons: Parkhurst Prison (the most famous), Camp Hill, and Albany. Parkhurst and Albany were once amongst the few top-security prisons in the United Kingdom.4. Freshwater - you cannot drinkOnce home to the Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson, Freshwater is a small village formed around Freshwater Bay, near the needles. There are a few things of interest in the village. These include the Old Battery - a Victorian port and rocket testing site during WW2. There is an interesting little museum here that is free to enter. Also, at low tide you can actually see dinosaur footprints at Compton Bay. Finally, nearby Afton Down, was the location for the 1970 Isle of Wight festival.5. Ryde - where you walkRyde is the Isle of Wight's equivalent to Blackpool, in my opinion. It's the most populous are in the Isle of Wight and is home to a one of the oldest and longest piers in Britain.You can connect to the mainland via hoverraft from Ryde to Portsmouth.Entertainment wise, there is plenty on offer in Ryde; there are five street carnivals each year; the ice rink is home to the Island's hockey team; and there are also theatres, restaurants, arcades and nightlife-a-plenty.6. Lake - where you walk and stay dryUnfortunately, there isn't much to say about this tiny village near Sandown Bay at the bottom of the Island. In fact, it's probably only on the list thanks to its name!7. Newtown - that is very oldAnother very small place (a hamlet in fact) that was probably founded around the time of the Norman Conquest. There is a legend about a piper, very similar to the Pied Piper of Hamlin who had to lure the village rats into sea. When he wasn't paid by the villagers, he lured all the children away, resulting in a loss of a generation and the demise of Newtown!Some of them, as you can see are very tenuous to say the least, but it is all meant as a little bit of fun for the tourist market. All joking aside though, this list isn't a bad place to start if you're considering where to visit during a visit to the Island. All of them have their own quirks and attractions and all make great destinations.
by dkm1981 on October 29, 2009
The Red Funnel is a passenger and vehicle ferry service that links the Isle of Wight with the mainland at Southampton. A quick glance at their website tells us that they have been operating this service for almost 150 years, and that they carry over 3 millions people across the Solent each year. For anyone who is familiar with the Isle of Wight, you have doubtless used the services of the Red Funnel company, named after the infamous red funnels of its fleet. It is something that is synonymous with the Island and, as a result, you'll find it features on everything from tea towels to postcards. Since my mum and her family all hail from the Isle of Wight, I have been a regular visitor over the years and have come to love the Red Funnel ferries for what they mean to me - a trip to visit my family. The ships themselves are new and well equipped with everything you could possibly need in a one-hour ferry journey, including: *Cafes *Bars *Toilets *Lounges *Arcade Games *WiFi connection There is plenty of seating onboard, so much so that I have never had trouble finding somewhere to sit. The top deck is outside and gives you the best views as you are approaching / leaving the island. Dogs are also allowed on the top deck as long as they are kept on a lead (otherwise they have to stay in the car deck on the lower level). Through the summer, the ferries operate every hour (every 90 mintues in winter) and you book the ferry for the time you estimate to arrive. They are quite flexible about changing your sailing time if you arrive earlier or later. Usually you have to pay a charge to change times, but a couple of times I've arrived early or late and been allowed to travel without paying for the change - I think it's just a case of wether or not you catch the staff in a good mood! The price varies depending on the time of day and year - be aware that the price increases massively during Cowes week and when the festivals are on and you have to book well in advance. Last time we travelled was in August and it cost £35 for a week return ticket for the car and three passengers, which is really good value. The only bad point is the price of the food onboard, but we don't generally bother since it's such a short journey. Overall, it's great value for money, punctual and fast, so I would definitely recommend it if you're ever visiting (or escaping from!) the Isle of Wight.
by dkm1981 on October 31, 2009
I really like the Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown. It is quite small compared to many other zoos in the UK, but the animals they have inside more than make up for it. Let's face it, when people go to the zoo, they want to see lions and tigers, which is what this zoo has plenty of - hence it being the basis for ITV's Tiger Island programme. The enclosures for the animals seem to be more than adequate and the animals are clearly very well looked after. The zoo as a whole is very well laid out and easy to get round, giving you the chance to see all the animals without going round in circles. Like I said, the main attraction is the fantastic tigers, but you can also see the engaging monkeys and the creepy crawly section (which is inside). There is also plenty of chances to see the animals being fed throughout the day. The zoo has a heavy focus on conservation of animals in the wild and so there is plenty of information about the animals' natural habitats as well as about what the zoo are doing to help. The information is really well presented and I found it very interesting. There is also a chance to help by adopting the animals, which I think would make a lovely gift idea for someone. All the usual facilities are available at the zoo - including plenty of parking, a gift shop and a cafe. On the whole, I would say that you'd probably only spend a couple of hours in the zoo and this is reflected in the price - which is about £6 for adults (I think) and includes parking. But I would say it is definitely worth a visit and it makes for a fun and educational day out.
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