Journal: 15 August 2017
No British family holiday is complete without visiting the local tourist attractions. I had the benefit, and inside knowledge, of having already visited several as a child, but I was curious to see how they'd changed over some twenty years!
The Needles and the chairlift to Alum Bay is synonymous with the Isle of Wight. I have ridden that lift many times before but, this time, we decided to take a walk, and I’m actually quite glad we did. It was an entirely different perspective watching the people in their seats and the vista into the bay. We also chanced upon a fox who was skulking on the hill. Stanley’s favourite book is the Gruffalo so he was very excited to see a fox in real life!
At the bottom of the cliff was the picture-postcard view of The Needles. I noticed a lot of people were just stood in awe – taking in the view.
Back at the top of the cliff is a contained site with attractions including shops, arcades and children’s entertainers. We had to prize Stanley away from one of the comedians!
Shanklin Chine is one of my happiest memories from the Isle as a child. I remember thinking it was such an enchanting location, like something from a fairytale. We caught a torrential, albeit short-lived downpour, and the five of us, along with another family, huddled under some trees. Once it’d cleared, the plants were left glistening in the sunshine.
It was every bit as magical as I remembered.
The Isle of Wight Steam Train is a great family attraction for all ages. My in-laws nostalgically remembered riding similar trains when they were children and Stanley spent our journey explaining how steam trains worked! I was transfixed watching the clouds and their shadows playfully dance on the rolling hills.
You can see the videos (from our week) on our Facebook here.
If you follow us on social media, then you’ll quite possibly have noticed Stanley’s love of dinosaurs and or/trains. We saved Dinosaur Isle in Sandown for a rainy day – it’s a great compact indoor attraction. Some of the displays move and others are interactive with members of staff on hand to talk you through the exhibits.
Blackgang Chine is one of the UK’s oldest amusement parks and described as the land of imagination! It’s set overlooking the sea on the southern tip of the Isle of Wight. We visited on the day we experienced the worst weather of our stay, so we definitely didn’t capture the park at its best, but we did have a great time!
Our highlights were naturally the dinosaurs (Stanley couldn’t contain his excitement) but we also loved the ‘Underwater Kingdom’ and ‘Cowboy Town’.
Tip: I noticed you could buy tickets to give you access over several days which I think is a great idea.
Now this is an unusual one to call an attraction, but Stanley loved the Red Funnel Ferry and so did my father-in-law! You arrive about 30 minutes before, drive on to the ferry and the crossing is less than an hour with plenty to see from the viewing deck.
Food & drinks
The Best Dressed Crab
My dad had text to say James Martin had eaten in The Best Dressed Crab a couple of days earlier and we were convinced he was there the day we ate. I even googled his wife but fell short of taking a photograph. The fish was so fresh and the view was spectacular. I always find that Stanley is more relaxed when he’s outdoors so it was perfect that we could eat overlooking the estuary.
In 2010, we’d eaten at the Hamborough and, at the time, the head chef was Robert Thompson. Seven years later, he had his own restaurant so, one night, we let the grandparents put Stanley to bed so we could enjoy dinner out together. It’s a lovely intimate restaurant and, just by chance, we were sat right in front of the open kitchen, so we could watch Robert at work. He even brought the desert over and, after the meal, we had a chat with him – he’s a really friendly guy and, if you come to the Isle, I wholeheartedly recommend you make a booking.
We had such an-action packed week on the Isle.
If you’re looking for a friendly, family orientated UK break then look no further – it’s small enough so you don’t spend all day in the car between attractions, but with a breadth of activities to keep you entertained.
For further information visit the Isle of Wight tourist tourist board.
Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.