As I mentioned in my last post, I was planning on visiting the Isle of Wight. I booked my ticket in advance, since I understand traveling on a ferry is not like hotels; where you can get a discount if you rock up late.
It is not cheap to move a van to the Isle of Wight. Why anyone goes there is beyond me. If I didn’t have friends there I probably would have just said sod to the whole thing. What didn’t help was that I got the return trip for 80 quid, only to have my session time out and have the price go up to 150. Sneaky internet. Of course I didn’t pay that much, I went down to the Red Funnel office and made nice with the receptionist who helped me out and got my tickets back down to 100. Although such a price came with a 5:15AM ferry (Having spent a lot of my life working night shifts I’m at least used to such a horrible wake up time, although the ordeal was still painful).
On top of that, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about taking the ferry. I haven’t taken a ferry since I was about ten and at the time I, obviously, was not responsible for driving, or anything much beyond nagging my parents to feed me. This time was rather different, having to drive onto the ferry in Enid; the fantastic gear dropping camper van.
I am pleased to report it was quite uneventful, although rather exciting, since, Enid being so tall, I got put right in the belly of the boat with all the lorry’s and some heavy duty crane equipment that was being moved.
I collected the animals, got myself an absurdly overpriced coffee and enjoyed watching the sun rise as I sailed across with some very unhappy pets.
First impression; that there is a weird high vis vest trend on the Isle of Wight.
I thought at first it was just because I was seeing dock workers, but no, people out walking their dogs early, kids on their way to school. I met up with my friend in McDonalds for a coffee and everyone except us was wearing a high vis vest. I rather felt that I should get one to blend in.
My friend met me in McD’s near the port because they were heading out (to return in the evening) as I was coming in. We parted ways after a disgusting McD’s breakfast, him giving me directions to his place on the very south of the island in a village called Ventna.
I did not realize how small the Isle of Wight actually is.
Took me half an hour to get there.
Of course, the first thing I did was take Caspian and try to find the beach. It was an easy task accomplished in ten minutes and, although the sand beach is quite small, it is very nice, clean sand with a variety of places to eat and drink along the front, and a costal path running up the cliffs either side.
I found a dinosaur maze, which I had to go in because it was advertised as both free and amazing, and how often do you find something like that?
Me and Caspian spent our first afternoon running up and down the hills and enjoying the sea air, and that night we were taken out (because Ventna is one of those place where dogs are welcome everywhere, which gets it a tick from me) to experience a night out in the village.
Now, for those not in the know (like I wasn’t before I rocked up) but the Isle of Wight, being situated where it is, i.e. directly between Brazil and the rest of the UK, is quite a cheap place to go and find drugs, are you so inclined.
It’s personally not to my tastes, but it apparently is to…. Pretty much everyone on the Isle of Wight. It makes for a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than you might find in the average pub, which was nice, although the flip side of it is it’s very difficult to understand a large portion of the people in there.
But still, the evening was nice, we grabbed some Indian food and I met some of the locals; an absurdly rude man and his lovely son, a woman known to most people because she refuses to move on from the 80’s and take her thigh high sparkly boots off, and a girl who, don’t get me wrong was lovely to talk to, but unusual to me in that she had not only never left the Isle of Wight, but was reluctant to even leave the town of Ventna.
I actually found this reluctance to be a recurring theme the longer I stayed. I started to suspect the residents of Ventna were under the influence of some sophoriphic drug, perhaps something in the water, as no one seemed willing to leave, the main town of Newport being “such a long way” (remember my comment earlier on how tiny the island is) , and I was worried about my leaving early Friday morning as I started to wonder if, in true horror move fashion, I would wake to find my tires gone and a note on my windscreen saying “It’s such a long way, now you can stay.”
This lethargy wasn’t just in people’s personal attitudes though, it was also in their professional outlook. It baffles me how anything ever gets done out there. Everyone is late for everything, shops just don’t open if they don’t feel like it, my friend openly admitted to having gone through near ten tradesman before he found one even willing to turn up. One day there I ventured into Newport (despite the apparent distance) with the aim of getting my laptop repaired. Of the four IT repair shops in Newport only one of them would take it, the rest shrugged and yawned and one of the guys was obviously so off his face I’m not 100% sure he thought I was real.
I’m sure the last man I spoke to only deigned to look at my laptop because I got quite upset, “I will pay literally anything for you to fix this,” I begged him. It was true enough, it is difficult to write and blog with no laptop after all.
He took it for an hour, inspected it and then gave it back to me, still sodding broken!! Refusing to do anything else because he “can’t figure what’s wrong. It’s broken though.” How foolish of me, to have brought my broken laptop into a computer repair shop!
In all fairness he didn’t charge me at least, but I’m very confused as to how Island businesses make money if this is how they all function.
But, laptop frustration aside, the Isle of Wight is actually very nice for a holiday or if you’re getting to that stage of your life when you don’t mind things moving infuriatingly slowly.
Because it is beautiful and, even though my friends have only been living there four months, they can’t go into town without getting caught up in conversation with someone else because there’s this great community feel. The weather is lovely. I’m here in the middle of October and it’s been sunny five days out of seven.
I had quite a fitness week, went on a few runs along the beach, went to my friends Pilate’s class. I almost joined in a senior’s dance event with 50s/60s music, but I left before things really picked up so I missed the best bits (like my friend realizing her knickers were too loose and dancing the whole event commando, because she’s a classy girl).
We did have another night out where we went to see live music, from a guitarist who was a session guitarist for Pink Floyd back in the day. He was really good. Although I will admit I had to leave half way through, since I had been up
since about 4 looking for a certain dog, who decided to take herself for a walk.
Now, I don’t want you guys to think I’m a bad owner. But the first evening when we went out my friend offered to let me sleep in their spare bed, exhausted from Southampton and a little sniffley with possibly the beginnings of a cold, I was quite keen on a warm night’s sleep in a real bed.
However, the catch was Caspian could not come in the house, because the resident cats were frightened of her.
It would be fine, I reasoned, for one night, as long as I checked on her first and last thing, and made sure Enid was secure and out the way.
I woke up at four in the morning feeling terrible, wracked with quilt, and ran out the house to see her.
And Caspian had escaped.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
I’ll save you the worry and assure you I did find her, or, more accurately, the dog warden did. So that was our (expensive) drama for the week.
One more thing worth mentioning about the Isle of Wight that doesn’t really fit well into this story was my friend’s ring. I didn’t realize but there are a few pearl farms on the Isle of Wight and she’d been hoping to get a ring from one for a while, and did so while I was visiting, I’d like to share it here because it was actually very pretty.
Drama and professional frustrations aside, the week was nice, sea air is always a mood lifter, and it was nice to catch up with the friend I’ve not seen in a few months.
Next time; a flying trip to London.