Holidays Our little holiday diary

Isle of Wight Part Two

Day 3.


Today, after breakfast, we set off in the other direction, travelling west along the coast road through Shanklin and Ventnor stopping at a Pearl shop where they demonstrated how to make cultured pearls whilst trying to con us into buying some. They also had a small Teddy Bear shop selling naked teddy bears with the opportunity to buy assorted dresses, football kits etc at rather silly prices. We had a walk along the cliff tops instead, admiring the views including the cliff erosion that the coach driver had told us about on the way. It was along this stretch of road that I was hoping to find Bonyface Down but to no avail. The coach driver had never heard of it. It will always remain just a memory for me. I was a naïve sixteen year old boy soldier, sleeping under canvas, being forced into the English Channel at some unearthly time in a morning to complete our ablutions before breakfast and then doing our best to learn how to handle a Second World War Lea Enfield .303 rifle (to me, being a 12 stone weakling, it was very heavy with a kick like a mule). What a way to start the Day!! Anyway, onward along the coast road through Chale and Freshwater down into Alum Bay where we got our first glimpse of the Needles. Whenever we go away on holiday, we make a point of buying ourselves an ice cream each. This trip was no different. I think we have mentioned elsewhere that we try not to spend too much if we can help it but it still hurt us to have to pay £1.60 for a small ice cream cornet. Very nearly the most we have ever paid, it was almost the same price for the cable car ride down and back up the cliffs for a view of the Needles from the beach. After a couple of hours freezing on the beach and wandering round a mini funfair, we made our way back to the coach to be transported up the coast a little way to Yarmouth. Once more we were dropped off for a few hours to amuse ourselves in a small town with one main street and very few shops of note. After finding a small but nice eating house, we ate before returning to the coach for our return trip via a different route along a more inland road through some very pretty countryside. The usual evening performance of meal followed by listening to the artists performing downstairs while we laid on our beds with the odd glass or three of the amber nectar.

Day 4.

Before we came on this trip, we had been told that there was a summer retreat for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on the Island called Osborne House where they brought their nine children when they wanted to get away from London. As this day was a free day to do with as we wished, we had already decided to pay it a visit. When we asked our driver about getting there, he said that he may be able to arrange a trip to the house for a nominal charge of twelve pounds. When we stopped laughing, we remember we had brought our bus passes on the off chance that we could use them, one of the perks of being old farts! After breakfast, we made our way to the bus stop, only a few hundred yards down the road, to join a queue that looked a mile long. When the bus arrived, we hadn’t got a cat in hells chance of getting on, so we settled down for a three quarter of an hour wait for the next one.  When it came we still couldn’t get any seats upstairs but we did get a view of the very pretty countryside and villages of the Island as we made our way to Newport (the capital of the Island). After a number of enquiries we found the next bus which went to East Cowes via Osborne House, stopping right outside the gates. (By the way, we could use our bus passes). This time we did get the upstairs front seats, even better views. However, at the next bus stop, a young man boarded and sat down on the other front seat next to us and started chatting to us. He showed us his T shirt of the Heart Foundation. This is where I work he boasted proudly and he continued to tell us how we may need a heart transplant or some other service from his organization. He never stopped chattering all the way to Osborne House. As we were getting off he asked where we came from, when we told him, he just said, see you late. “Idiot” we thought. We had a fair trek to the house which looked very impressive from the outside at least. We had a good look round the front gardens before joining one of the guided tours around the inside of the house. (Unfortunately, No Photography). It was a comprehensive tour but the house seemed smaller from the inside that it looked on the outside. Prince Albert adored their children and made every effort to make their stay a happy and fulfilling time while they were there. He had a play house built that was the size of our bungalow, it had a very small stove in there where the children were taught the basics of cooking,  gardens where they could learn about growing their own produce complete with their own miniature wheel barrows. Further down the gardens, there were mobile bathing huts the the Queen and Prince used when being wheeled down to the edge of the sea for their daily bathing ritual. All in all, it was a fascinating insight as to how the Queen, Prince and family spent their leisure time there. Still, it was time to go, so the long hike back to the bus stop to catch a bus which would take us into Ryde for a nosey round there before returning to Sandown and our hotel. Basically, it was the same as all the other towns that we had visited on the Island, fairly small, only half open and rather tired looking. Top deck, front seats again, our favourite seats when travelling on buses ‘cos we’re nosey old gits. The very first stop after we left Ryde, would you Adam and Eve it!! The “Idiot” gets on the bus, makes a bee line for us and promptly retells us everything he had told us on the first meeting, virtually word for word. Oh death, where is thy sting? Having said that, he was harmless, meant well and was very proud of the work he did and hopefully still does for the Heart Foundation, so good on him. Once back at the hotel, meal, “entertainment”, drinky poos and starting to pack ready for departure the next morning.

Day 5.

After breakfast, we waved farewell to the Channel View Hotel for our eleven hour journey home. Nothing to report, so we won’t waffle on for the sake of it. Got home safely.


The coach driver looked after us reasonably well.

The hotel was adequate in that the rooms were quite small but clean. The food was well cooked if rather small portions. It was convenient to walk into Sandown if one wished to.

The Island, by and large seems to be stuck in a time warp of round the mid sixties. Very pretty but now rather tired. I have a tendency to feel sorry for the younger members of the island as we saw very little evidence of things to do for them. It is really a holiday island for the older folk.

Having said all that, we felt that it was quite good value for our hard earned money. We came home feeling relaxed.

My one lasting memory of this trip to the Isle of Wight is not the holiday but the fact that I missed the presentation of my Pingat Jasa Malaysia (Service Medal) at Fulwood Barracks in Preston. I had been told that I had been awarded this medal (along with many other servicemen who had served in Malaya at about the same time) and the date had been arranged. I booked the relevant day off work and  also, at the same time, booked and paid for the trip to the Isle of Wight ensuring they didn’t clash. A week before the ceremony, I was told that they had moved the date to one which coincided with Diane and I being away on holiday. I had to ask our son Darren to attend and accept the medal on my behalf. This he did gladly and I am grateful for that but I wished I had been there myself to receive it.


I am not trying to show off or pretend that I am a hero and in some way brave, because I’m not. I just thought that one or two visitors may be a little interested in what I got up to during my time in the army.

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