The Isle of Wight Steam Railway part 2

It was the second day of our short trip to the Isle of Wight.  We’d taken a trip on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway where we had met up with a lovely elderly couple and their son and then we’d arrived in the little town of Wootton and had taken a five minute walk… that took about thirty minutes or more! Talk about a county mile!

We made it back to the station with five minutes to spare and I perched up on a little incline and waited for the majestic steam train to return.

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I could hear the whistle long before the train arrived and could see the steam rising through the trees. 

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It is so exciting seeing the train pull in, even though I’d seen the same thing barely a couple of hours before.  I don’t believe it is something I’d ever want to get used to though as it is a magical sight and sound. 

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The carriage we chose this time around seemed even more fancy than the first one!  It seems we were right; this one had been assembled in 1886 whereas the first one had been assembled in 1903.

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Southern Railway is still going to this day and runs the service down into Surrey and East and West Sussex.

The ticket inspector was kind enough to pose for a photo for me.  I loved his authentic uniform and ticket dispenser.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway 27The train pulled off and below long we arrived back in Havenstreet Station.  We took a look around at some of the other grand engines there.

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And we even had a chance to see them filling the engine up with water again which is not something I’ve ever seen before.  I’m not entirely sure I realised that they had to do this before but it made total sense that they do, of course.

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It was such a wonderful day and a great way to spend our anniversary!  I would love to go on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway again one day!

Walking in Wootton

The brochure for the Isle of Wight Steam Train said that Wootton was a nice place to stop off as there were two pubs just a short five minute walk away.  Now I am a ridiculously fast walker so I thought “how far can it really be?”  Ha. Ha ha ha.  Famous last words.

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We left the train station and took a last look back to make sure we knew how to get back to the trains.

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We found the old stationmaster’s house which was rather quaint.  (I just love the flag at the back there!)

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We walked for ten minutes up to the top of the hill and still found time to admire the tulips.  It was late March and spring was so much more advanced than in London!

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The daffodils were out with a vengeance (and they were only emerging when we got back to London)!

And then… we got to the high street about five minutes later and came upon a closed pub.  It was, admittedly, a Sunday at about noon time but it was also our anniversary and we wanted a treat!  So we took a look on my newly acquired iPhone and it promised that there was another pub five minutes down the road.


A good ten or so minutes later, we finally found an open pub.

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We had a precious five minutes to enjoy our reward before rushing back to catch the next train!

I thought I’d take a photo of the street leading back to the station.  Isle of Wight really looks exactly like the rest of England!  I had been expecting something less inhabited but I was wrong – there are 130,000 residents on this tiny island plus all the tourists!

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Okay, it is slightly less densely populated than England. 

We made it back to the station with five minutes to spare and I picked a good place to catch a good photo of the incoming train.

Of course, we discovered the next day that had we turned left instead of right when we came out of the station, then we would have found a pub a mere two minutes walk away!!

The Isle of Wight Steam Railway part 1

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It was our eighth wedding anniversary on Sunday 28 March and we treated ourselves to a first class ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (well, it was only a little bit more expensive than the third class tickets!). 

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Everything about Havenstreet Station was wonderfully authentic.

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The carriage was marvellous.  We could just imagine the noble folk of the late nineteenth century sitting in the carriage in all their finery.  I visualised a proper lady sitting there with her high necked shirt, little jacket and hat, long skirt and high Victorian boots.  Perhaps their ghosts remain?

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We had the carriage to ourselves for a little while and then an elderly couple joined us with their son.  They began to talk about how as children they used to sleep on the luggage rack up above on long distance trips from Swansea to Glasgow.  They had been upgraded to first class because the man used to work as a steam train driver.  He had some photographs on him and showed them to me, much to the embarrassment of his wife!  Naturally, I was thrilled.  Not as thrilled as he was when the train began to move off – he was moved to tears as the sounds of the steam and the whistle brought back all of the memories for him.  It was so touching. 

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They asked if I was a steam train enthusiast but I said no, I just like old things and that we’d recently been going through my grandfather’s old photographs.  We spoke about The War (the Second World War).  Both the man and women had only recently “got rid of” their uniforms and the thought quite scared me!  They had moved into a smaller place but I could imagine they must have been in pristine condition.  They assured me that they had sold them on to enthusiasts so I was mollified both that they would have made some money from selling them and that they would be kept safe now. 

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It was a lovely ride and I so enjoyed our company!  As we arrived at the next station, I took a peek out of the window at the tracks.  Stephen and I are trying to figure out – are the tracks wider or narrower today than they used to be in the age of steam engines?  We know that they are different but we couldn’t figure it out.

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We decided to take a walk around the little town of Wootton as the brochure promised that there were two pubs nearby. Ha! Not quite but that is a tale for another post.

Arriving in the Isle of Wight

The very first impression we had of the Isle of Wight is how beautiful it is!  The sun was shining and it is obvious that spring arrives here earlier as all the daffodils are out already!  We arrived at our bed and breakfast a little early and decided to take a walk down to the nearby cliffs.

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How beautiful is that?  I knew the minute I saw this little pathway that I had to take a walk down it.

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The views are just breathtaking.  The weather forecast had been really bad so it was quite a surprise to have such sunny weather!

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We were tempted to take a walk along the cliff path but we didn’t have too much time.

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So we decided to have a cup of tea in a beautiful little cafe overlooking the sea instead.

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The path going down to the beach is closed on that side as the cliff is eroding away.  It is such a pity to think that this beautiful pathway could collapse!  You can see the erosion right in the middle of the photograph.

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Soon it was time to go back to our B&B where this charming little fellow guards the entrance.   We settled in and took a much needed afternoon nap.  The two signs Emm is on holiday: afternoon naps and daily full English breakfasts.

Fish and Chips in Portsmouth

After a crazy start to the year both at work and home, we finally set off on Saturday morning for a short break to the Isle of Wight.  We drove down from Dartford to Portsmouth where we had lunch while we waited for the ferry to the island.

While Stephen struggled to find money for the parking machine, I rushed off like a concerned, considerate wife to try and get a decent photo of The Spinnaker Tower.

The Spinnaker Tower

I loved the nautical theme that you could see everywhere in Portsmouth.  Everything is sail or mast-shaped.

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This was Stephen’s first time on a ferry so he was pretty excited but apprehensive too; ferry rides generally go one of two ways – really good or really bad!

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We decided to go to the Abar Bistro for lunch.  My first impression on entering the restaurant was that it smelled great!  It is difficult to describe but it smelled like a really old home kitchen.

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We had scallops and a Camembert parcel for starters and then Stephen ordered a lemon sole for his main course.  I had a good idea of how huge sole are in this country so I opted for the fish and chips instead.  This was without a doubt the best fish and chips I have ever had.  They served up some home made tartar sauce that was “adorable” (the first word that came to my mind, honest) and everything including the batter, the fresh fish, the pea puree and the chips was divine.  Yum. 

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The atmosphere in the restaurant was also lovely as they played vocal jazz music. It was great and at a total of £38, well worth the visit!

We made sure that we were waiting in our car in the line to get on the ferry a full thirty minutes before departure time as instructed.  I had expected a bit of chaos and bother getting on but it was really smooth and easy.

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We went up in the one of the lounges and were lucky enough to get a seat right at the front.  It is only a short trip of less than an hour but I couldn’t help falling asleep.  Looks like we had a good ferry journey!