Journal: 8 August 2017

A Full House.

If you spoke to the twenty year old Fiona, she couldn’t imagine anything more unappealing than a holiday with parents or, worse still, the boyfriend’s folks. Those holidays were about letting my hair down, late nights, rising in the afternoon and lazing around the pool. But, once I became a mum, it all changed – I had a huge newfound respect and appreciation for my own parents and my in-laws.



This year is my father-in-law’s 60th. I genuinely haven’t met a man who loves sailing more than him. Before Stanley was born, Bobby and I vowed we’d surprise him with a trip to Cowes Regatta for his big birthday and 2017 was the year…



Our home for the week was Hoseasons’ Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat in Wootton Bridge, just 20 minutes from Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. I always start with a clear criteria when I’m looking for accommodation and this time was naturally a bit more specific than usual. We needed enough space for two couples and Stanley and, at the same time, I still didn’t want to sacrifice the visual aesthetic and, if possible, to retain a few little luxuries.



When the weather was good, we were straight up and out on the veranda for breakfast – we even had a barbecue one evening. Being city folk, we loved listening to the birdsong.

We made great use of the hot-tub or ‘ca-juzzi’ as Stanley dubbed it. He’s not a confident swimmer but as he could stand up in the jacuzzi he was in his element!  The site we were on had two ‘private’ beaches, so on the days when Stanley just needed to let off some steam, we wandered down the woodland walk to the beach and commenced our sand-castle building.

On our last night, from our own beach, we enjoyed the Red Arrows who rounded off the end to Cowes week with a display, so that was pretty special. A shout out goes to the lady on reception for the tip off!


This stay was our first ‘on site’ holiday. As a child, I’d toured the UK a lot with our caravan and stayed on various campsites. Whilst I loved it, mine and Bobby’s criteria was a bit different for Stanley. He has a temperament where he gets easily over stimulated when there’s lots going on. With this in mind, we try to blend visiting exciting attractions with more calmer nature-based activities – whether that be a walk or playing on the beach. Taking all of this in to account, this site was just perfect for us.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we met another family from our home city of Norwich – with twin boys just a year older than Stanley who were staying on our site. On two evenings, the three boys played on the beach until sunset. Stanley is still talking about them today, so it was lovely to have made friends who we intend on seeing again soon.



We surprised my father-in-law, David, with a treat on a spectator boat – amongst the thick of the sailing action at Cowes Regatta with his son, my husband, Bobby. Whilst David was out, Shirley (his wife/my mother-in-law) collectively blew up about 50 balloons, inflated with helium the silver ’60’ (as pictured below) and made good the cake that had all but fallen apart in transit! Assisted, of course, by Stanley.

It’s fair to say David was absolutely blown away by the surprises and had a really special week.



During our stay we got a great feel for the island. I’d been many times as a child and as a couple for Bobby’s 30th, but it was even more magical seeing it through Stanley’s eyes.



Our lodge comprised three bedrooms, one with twin beds and two double beds, each with ensuite, so there was no queuing for the bathroom in the mornings! Both double rooms had a TV – not that we needed it with our days being so action-packed – we crashed as soon as our heads hit the pillow!



For anyone considering going away with family, I wholeheartedly recommend doing it. It was great to share this week with Stanley’s grandparents and the cherry on the cake was a cheeky midweek date night with Bobby at a beautiful restaurant.

We had a full house in more ways than one.

We stayed at Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat in Wootton Bridge with Hoseasons.



Read our two part guide to the Isle of Wight Part 1 and Part 2.

Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.


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