I am now back from my little holiday on the Isle of Wight, and very nice it was too. The joke, for those not in the know, is that when you step off the ferry on the island, you need to set your watch, back fifteen years. Now this is a little harsh, but also a little true. There is something about places that are "at the end of the line" that always attracts the slightly different or the very different or the person who, in their own personal search for happiness, has chosen a path with a "no through road" sign at the start.
I do not want to be too flippant for fear of upsetting the locals, especially since most of them look like the could or, and maybe have been, two rounds with Mike Tyson. And that is just the women. However, it must be noted that there were plenty of tattoos, piercings, odd haircuts likely conceived in the kitchen, and a general sense that normal ain't so normal there. Our first few days seemed to consist of passing through various council estates, all with roads that are one and a half cars wide, and with the obligatory row of cars on one side means a constant pulling behind a car to the let the oncoming traffic come on. This is very much like the road in which we live, which is a Victorian road built wide enough presumably for a couple of horses to pass each other without touching, but not so good for cars. Our road is about two hundred metres long. Now I am not sure how many miles of road there are on the Isle of Wight, and Google could not tell me, but the rather alarming majority of them were too narrow for two cars to pass whilst both in motion.
To be honest, for the first three days of the trip we were totally underwhelmed by the island, however on the final two days we did go, late in the day, to the Needles, and en route travelled the southerly coastal road, and some of the scenery was amazing, our "autumn" as Maggot 2 says when he sees something awsome. Even the man-made stuff was appealing.
Aside from the Needles, which we thoroughly enjoyed, even with the tacky fairground at the top, we visited two of the "top attractions on the island". The first was Blackgang Chine (BGC), at which we bought a Super Saver ticket for that and Robin Hill. BGC was truly awful. There were a few funny moments, a crooked house that was crooked, and a singing pet shop that was full of pets singing, to name but two, but overall the place was a mishmash of unrelated and frankly uninteresting "exhibits". We concluded that the designers had obviously never seen another "theme park" of any sort, perhaps in light of the fact that they may have never left the island, except perhaps those advertised on the back of The Beano.
It does have an interesting issue to deal with. The site is the location of several landslides, and indeed some elements of the park have been closed as they have fallen in to the sea, requiring the owners to keep moving attractions inland. There are a couple of houses on the site that are presumably abandoned by their owners, including one fantastic house that is now a walkthrough story thingy, the exact subject of which I have long since forgotten. This must make for an interesting business model; is it worth investing in a ride or attraction that could be in the drink in a few years' time? The answer seems to be a resounding no, or rather, the decision was obviously made that no attraction should cost more to put up than it can make in profit in a year, which very much sets the tone for the quality, or lack of it, and also the high number of bits that incur additional charges to be enjoyed.
With all this negativity about BGC, we did not hold out much hope for Robin Hill, but we could not have been more wrong. This was a lovely day out, enjoyed by both adults and children alike. The site was attractive, and there was a fantastic toboggan run that we all had two goes on (and it cost money too, which we paid with pleasure) and also a falconry display which was just fantastic. The final bird that was flown liked to come in low, and skimmed a number of heads, including ours, at great speed. It was fantastic to see the bird flying, and also to listen to the enthusiastic commentary from the falconer.
The sun also shone for the final three days, which added to the fun and pleasure, and meant we could visit the pool on the site. The maggots swam, I simply made sure they were safe, from the side of the pool. A chap needs to be careful with too much shock to the old ticker.
As for the site, it was a lovely, quiet site, with plenty of room, two great playgrounds and a real sense of country serenity, with some essentials, for us at least, thrown in. A great site we would visit again, were it not on the Isle of Wight, a place to which I fear we will not be returning any time soon.