But-we have put off his holiday-saying we would go next spring for a week. We thought that in the mean time we would give him a fossil hunting taster session on the Dorset coast. We booked a cottage and were all set-till they cancelled two weeks before we were due to go. The cottage owners sent a note that they had to cancel the booking, and were quite sure we would understand. Yeah right—let them come and tell a 5 year old boy that he isn’t going fossil hunting for the first time on the Dorset coast. So—it was a quick hunt for a new location. I had remembered someone mentioning a good holiday caravan site on the Isle of Wight so asked her for the details. Jo is even pickier than me when it comes to rentals-so I knew she’d recommend someplace good—she did-and it wasn’t a caravan! We ended up renting a bungalow in Colwell Bay for the weekend. Needless to say-every person Kieran passed for the week was informed that he was off to the Isle to find a dinosaur!
Friday morning saw us all heading off to Lymington through the New Forest to catch the ferry. Not only did it see us heading to the Isle—it also saw the sun heading to the Isle!! To say the kids were excited was an understatement. Have to admit-I think we were both excited as well—I love going to new places, especially one’s that are rumoured to be as lovely as the Isle of Wight is. Michael really enjoys geology-so he and Kieran were going to be in second heaven together!
Unlike the norm for us-we decided to not make 1000 possible plans for the weekend-we just went with the attitude of we’d go where ever looked interesting-and would move on when we wanted to. This meant that when we got to Yarmouth we just drove around the south coast for a bit, stopping off at a few view points along the way. We stopped off in Freshwater at a pub for lunch. Wouldn’t recommend it-but it was sunny and we sat outside and had a nice time together. We then decided to head back to the The Needles Park. I say head back-because we had driven to it quite by accident earlier, but decided on a drive along the coast first.
We don’t normally do ‘amusement park’ places-but it’s very small, and had very few people there, so no lines. It also helped that I had some Tesco vouchers to pay for the visit! The kids drove the mini-cars for kids. They were too funny when the man gave them a little pretend licence—they thought they were real! They then picked the carousal for a ride—and weren’t interested in the others. Michael wanted to go down the chair lift to the bottom of Allum Bay. As I am absolutely terrified of falling-I won’t say heights, because I don’t mind the ‘height’ –it’s the fact that I can fall from the height that has me terrified. And chair lifts down a cliffside just seem, well—to me they just seem rather insane. He had to settle for watching a glass blowing demonstration instead. Have to say-that I enjoyed-I am always amazed by any artisan. The kids and Michael also enjoyed it-so we stayed and watched another piece being produced. The kids enjoyed the sweet making demonstration, probably because they got a free sweet at the end of that. Then we had a large ice cream each—most of mine and Hazel’s ended up in the bin-they were really large. We decide it was time to find the bungalow.
The bungalow was very nice. It had a good size living/dining room and a decent kitchen with everything included. The bedrooms were a good size-and the bathroom was large as well. Basically-it was new, very clean, plenty of room—and some place you wouldn’t mind spending a week or two. We quickly unpacked and made a frittata for dinner and then headed down to the beach. It was about 400 meters to the beach-so not too far. It wasn’t the type of beach you’d want to spend a day on-it was right next to the road—but it was nice and we had a lovely walk from Colwell Bay down to the Totland Pier. Michael and I saw our first sunset over water since our honeymoon in Greece. It was a wonderful evening. I watched the sun and the kids and Michael playing on the beach, and then we bought some chips and walked in the dusk back to the bungalow. Saturday morning was the start of the ‘dinosaur’ part of the holiday. We took the south coast road and drove to Dinosaur Isle in Sandown. The route was very scenic-and we drove into a few of the villages along the way. The museum itself was very good. The kids did one of the trails—and we ended up spending quite awhile in the museum. They both enjoyed it and were interested in the information on hand-but it is a quite a bit to learn in a morning. I made a quick visit to the gift shop for some small items for the geocaches we planned to do-and to buy the kids each a t-shirt. Not one of the norms for me-but what can you do—they were under £5 each!
/>We then walked along the sea-front and found a pub right on the beach. We had a table outside-so enjoyed our lunch under the blazing sun. (Did I mention it was actually sunny, very sunny?) Our next trip of the day was to find the kids decent spades. Kieran’s old plastic one broke-so he needed one, but we decided they could both use one with a wood handle. After walking for awhile, Michael decided to run up to the town and check in the shops there. He comes back a bit later with two long plastic ones. Hmmm—not quite what we ordered. While we were walking back to the car, we found a small beach shop with the spades with wooden handles. Yeah—now we all had one! We decided that we needed to find a beach-and right away. It would have been criminal not to spend a sunny afternoon on the beach.
To Yaverland we headed. (Actually-it was basically about ½ a mile away from the museum-so not too far!) It had a sandy beach for Hazel and me-and fossils for the guys. Kieran got busy right away digging up the middle of the beach. He eventually found a large black rock near the base of the cliff-without any digging involved. He was convinced it was wonderful and that it was coal. (More on this later!) Mission accomplished-off to the water with Hazel he went. We had lots of fun in the water. Yes-the last weekend of September and my two were in the sea on an English coast—without a bodysuit on! It was the first time they tried to ‘jump’ the waves. OK—they barely left the edge of the beach without me beside them-but they were really enjoying it, and I can see that it’ll be only a matter of time when they are out so far I’ll need binoculars to see them! We stayed till after 5, and then headed back to the cottage-which was an hour away. We had to be back by 6:30 for the one scheduled activity of the weekend–Strictly Come Dancing—Hazel would have been devastated if she missed it. So a quick stop at a supermarket and we got back in time to rustle up a quick meal before it started. Michael and I also made an apple crumble for dessert- it was very tasty!
Sunday morning was going to include a geocache-so we had to decide which one. There was one located at The Needles Old Battery , a place we wanted to see-so that’s where we headed. It is just on the cliff above the Needles attraction park we went on Friday. The walk up to the fort was lovely-the views over to Allum Bay were gorgeous-you can see why people would want to go on the crazy chair lifts! The kids enjoyed the fort-Kieran was playing soldier near the cannons for a bit. Hazel brought her binoculars and enjoyed the views and bird spotting for awhile. The battery isn’t huge-but enough there to keep us amused. We went down the underground tunnel to the searchlight, we walked up to the rocket site, had a nice lunch, with dessert, in the tearoom-and most of all-we found the cache!
I found it but it was in a tricky location-so sent Michael in. There were people all around-so it was a bit tricky. He was in the hiding spot for awhile, so I thought he had found it, signed the log and dropped off the geo-coin we had to hide. When he finally emerges-he shrugs his shoulders—he couldn’t find it! Argh!! So we had to move the screen and get me behind it-but then people started to come. Of course by now Kieran wanted to come in with me-and he does not now how to whisper very quietly! Luckily enough it took me all of two seconds to find it—so people were around-but don’t think anyone was curious enough to find out what we were doing. I hope so anyway!
It was a wonderful morning-the sun was shining-and we had a wonderful walk. When we walked up to the missile rocket test site the kids counted the steps we had to climb. Only about 138. But the view down to the Needles (which are these chalk stacks).was lovely and Michael and I had fun spying on about 15 people below with our binoculars. Yes-sad aren’t we! They had ‘parked’ their boats (yachts) off the beach and had come in to have a picnic on the beach below the cliff. Must be lovely to have access to a boat and to have your own private beach. They were barbecuing roast chicken on the grills.
On the way back-my children decided they had to check if the chalk they found really worked. Let’s hope writing on public property doesn’t become a habit!
Then-as it was still sunny-we headed to Shippards Chine Beach. We had stopped off at this beach on Friday and Saturday to enjoy the views. It had all the things we wanted to do during the week-end—a sandy beach, fossil hunting and nearby geocaches. There were some fossilized dinosaur footprints-but the kids and I only found the one. Hazel wanted to go in the water and Kieran wanted to dig. So we did that while Michael went further along the rocky area till he found the others. (He forgot to take the camera) The kids played in the water-and I wished I had something to sit on! The beach was still wet-though it had been sunny all day; the sand near the water never really dries. (For those back home-the tide comes in quite far on most beaches, so the dry sand is usually quite a distance from the waters edge. Not goo
d when you have little ones who can’t swim, and no beach chair with you.) Michael eventually got back from his fossil exploration with what he thought was a dinosaur bone. I thought it was probably some old piece of crockery or piping from when the National trust parking lot that fell to the beach due to the erosion. Anyway-that’ll have to be determined another day. After he got back I headed to the cliff (under the collapsed parking lot!)to sit on a rock to do some reading while he played in the water with the kids. It was a gorgeous afternoon, and we stayed till almost 6pm.
We did go to where the other geocaches were-but the parking lot was completely full, and there were people everywhere, so we decided to do it before we went to the ferry in the morning. We got back to the bungalow and had some dinner and got most of the packing done before the finals show for Strictly Come Dancing was on.
On Monday we had a 1pm ferry crossing, so we had a couple of hours in the morning for our geocaches. We went back to the parking lot along the cliff and decided to do the one across the road first. Especially as Michael was convinced the clue was going to lead us to the top of the hill to the monument. So we all start to blindly follow him-when he realizes he’d passed the cache, by about 260’! See-Michael thinks that everyone thinks like him: if you’re going to go anywhere or hide anything-doesn’t everyone go to the highest local point? Argh!! Even with the GPS he led us right past the cache. Sometimes me thinks he isn’t as clever as me thinks he is!! Anyway-when we realized we were heading in the wrong direction, I took over the GPS-and we spotted the ‘clue’ in a few minutes. We let Kieran ‘find’ the cache-as he’s the only one who hasn’t found one yet. He was pleased with this. Have to say-the views were wonderful—what a lovely place for a walk.
We then decided to go back to the other one nearer the parking lot. It lead us to another Cliffside overlooking the Blackgang Chine-wonderful views all the way to the Needles. I found the cache, which was in an overgrown area. I forgot to bring the gloves (though at least this time they were in the car) but all was ok-no nettles or other yucky things. We had to pretend to do a family photo session as someone was coming. Michael thinks everyone is either a fellow seeker or a muggle—so we have such antics when people are near. He just isn’t ‘slick’ enough to play this game at times! Anyway-after we put the cache away-we decided to walk along the Cliffside for about a ½ hour before heading to the ferry. On the way to the ferry we decided to stop off at the Shippards Chine parking lot for a toilet stop, and to have the last ice cream of the holiday. I think I was the only one who thought that 11:30am was a tad early for that!
Just as we were on the ferry some clouds had begun to move in. Up until then we had had absolutely gorgeous weather the whole weekend-finally, a bit of summer! We only managed to see the south west coast, and a tad of the east coast of the island. From every angle the views were wonderful-whether they were inland or coastal. Though we didn’t see it all–the island is beautiful, and we will definitely be going back—as there is tons more to see and do.