As one of my most viewed posts so far in a short space of time, my Isle of Wight Summer Bucket List: Top Ten clearly struck a chord with many; therefore, I have returned from my mission to tell you about what I got up to from the list! Here’s part one.
10. Blackgang Chine
I went back for the first time in years this August with a group of friends, of whom all but one had been before, years ago, since we’d all grown up on the Island (Frazer got dragged into it as he was visiting at the wrong time and so ended up spending the whole day in disbelief at our nostalgic excitement over this slightly shabby, strange theme park).
Blackgang Chine’s highlights are the ones you’d expect: the Cliff Hanger was better than anticipated as it actually goes round twice and it reminded me of the rollercoaster The Dragon at Legoland, and the Water Force slides are great fun for all as long as you don’t catch them with a long queue.
Elsewhere, attractions such as Crooked House and Rumpus Mansion just end up feeling underwhelming and quite bizarre. Equally, if you went there as a kid, the Lands of Imagination (Cowboy Town, Dinosaur Land, Fairyland, Fantasyland and Nurseryland) can’t match up to what you remember, especially Cowboy Town – now you’ll just feel excluded from the kids’ good times with their cap guns as they run through the saloon doors.
Admittedly though, the Snakes and Ladders slides are still good fun – we quickly discovered that the bigger slides are just as suitable for us larger people as for kids!
Overall, we had a fun day out but we didn’t need more than four hours there; I’d definitely recommend it for families who want to try something a bit different though.
8. Amazon World
Find my gallery of pictures from the park here.
Although areas of the park are currently undergoing construction – primarily several of the outside enclosures – there are still enough animals to see! None of the armadillos were anywhere to be found (apparently they just occasionally get hyper and run around before wearing themselves out again) but almost all of the other animals were within easy sight.
Highlights included the very hyperactive lemurs, the pacing ocelots, the numerous tortoises, the scrapping otters and the African penguins. My only quibble is that we visited on the first weekend after the schools had gone back but the lemur walk-through cage was already padlocked with no explanation (it might have been open at another time of day or something, but no one told us anything) which was very disappointing.
7. Osborne House
Osborne House is possibly the Island’s most interesting and important historical landmark (although others may opt for Carisbrooke Castle). Queen Victoria and Prince Albert spent a fairly large proportion of their lives there, and as such there is a story behind everything in both the grounds and the house.
The house is as interesting and pretty to look at as I remembered it. The way your journey leads you up the servants’ stairs and back down the royal ones is quite something. The royal apartments are particularly fascinating, especially in seeing the room in which Queen Victoria died and also the way she left Prince Albert’s things as they were when he died.
The grounds are also beautiful, from the terraced gardens with their view across to the sea, to the walled gardens where vegetables and plants are still grown, and the Ring Walk around the whole estate.
Unfortunately, Swiss Cottage is currently shut for some much needed refurbishment, but something else has opened that makes up for it. Last year, the Queen’s private beach opened to the public for the first time, and it is now a beautiful spot to relax and look over the Solent, with the Queen’s own bathing machine and alcove both on show. There’s a shuttle bus down to the beach, but the 20 minute walk is pleasant in itself, going from the open grounds into a valley of trees. Once you arrive, there is a café with delicious ice cream and, of course, the opportunity to go swimming if you’re brave enough! This is the perfect addition to a cultural day out.
I mentioned Colwell Bay and Totland Bay in my road trip post, both of which are lovely beaches.
I will freely admit that I perhaps don’t make the most of the Island’s beaches, but back in July I visited Appley Beach in Ryde, which has always been one of my favourites.
The vast expense of sand when the tide’s out compared to the intimidating water when the tide comes in again is something to behold. It’s also one of the Island’s biggest beaches, which means that even when it’s busy it doesn’t feel as crowded as some others. The view across to the Spinnaker Tower is almost unrivalled, and the swan pedal boats on the nearby lake provide some alternative fun for a reasonable price.
Come back on Friday for points five to one….. now here.