Leave London early on a Saturday and within three hours you can be on the Isle of Wight, feeling like you’ve travelled back in time. The hotels are rustic, there is no mobile reception on much of the island and I wouldn’t try to order a coconut flat white in the local caf (although they do do a very good flapjack).
The Isle of Wight is known for its own eco-climate and locals claim it to be the sunniest place in the UK. Unfortunately, it chose the weekend we visited to piss non-stop with rain.
The top deck of a ferry in glorious sunshine can be a rather jolly experience for the short-crossing over-looking Hurst Castle, but dare to venture downstairs and it is a much more depressing affair. Brace yourself for stained carpets with some hallucinogenic pattern, betting machines beeping non-stop and a chaotic school trip. We quickly decided to brave the rain. At least I’m easy to spot if I fall overboard in my florescent pink biking jacket that I last minute panic packed.
On arrival in Yarmouth we were too early to check-in at The George (review here), so decided to follow the British motto of “keep calm and do as planned despite the weather”. Luckily for us, Falmouth’s solution to Amazon was a little shop called Harvey’s which sold everything from waterproofs, hats and gloves to sailing gear, pottery and tea towels. We loaded up on flapjacks and set off to find the Needles.
As we stepped out the car the rain got heavier but Jonny was adamant he saw blue sky on the horizon. At each landmark, we debated if to turn back but could see people ahead so pressed on. Two hours in and I have never been so cold or wet. There is a puddle in my shoe which squelches with every step. My jeans are soaked and clinging so tightly to me I feel like Ross in friends with his wet leather pants. No part of me is dry and I can only see a few feet in front. With less than twenty minutes to the needles and unable to take it anymore we turn back. Trying to take a shortcut we end up in a car park still 2 miles from our car. And finally, we get a bit of luck, three friendly coppers offer us a lift.
We arrive back at our hotel, The George (review here) for a long-anticipated bubble bath, only to find out we have a shower. Still, a steaming shower, followed by steaming tea in fluffy white robes and we start for feel half human again.
That evening we head off to The Hut for supper. A chilled and trendy restaurant with white wooden tables and normally open-air decking that overlooks the sea and sunset. It is the place to eat on the island. Crab and avocado, swordfish and coffee parfait. It is all delicious. Wash it down with the local mermaid island gin which I am hoping will help me grow long Ariel hair.
By lunchtime the next day, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and we decide to brave another attempt at finding the Needles. This time we make it there. The sun shines down on us, our bones begin to thaw from the day before and we gaze down at the white sparkling needles coming out from the sea and the multicoloured sand of Alum Bay. It is definitely worth the walk.
On our ferry back, the sunsets over the Needles and on our time in the Isle of Wight. Our skin tingles from being the fresh air and we refreshed to head back the London smoke, already planning our return trip.