Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A weekend on the Isle of Wight

Not ever having been at the top of my Travel wish list I'd never ventured across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. I had the impression the Island was a little on the dull side full of boisterous Banker Yachting types. So imagine my surprise in visiting  for the very first time this Bank Holiday weekend to discover a beautifully rugged and arty oasis in the Solent. Our visit was encouraged by my old client and friend Gail, who has now settled in a historic, rambling Victorian Villa (once occupied by the Tennyson family) on the tops of the cliffs in Freshwater Bay. A hop and a skip from the delightful Dimbola Museum and Galleries, the former home of the fascinating Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.




Inspired by her blog and infectious love of this small corner of British paradise, we bought our ferry tickets and off we went. Honestly my expectations had not been terribly high though I'm not entirely sure why I had these preconceptions. I was truly blown away especially by West Wight which is quieter therefore more local centric.



The house has one of the most bewitching views I've seen, the sea so intensely blue as well as a moon so vibrant a red. The house also faces Tennyson Downs, popular with ramblers and dog walkers, as well as those searching for literary inspiration. Serene views feed the soul here, we returned at peace even only after three days.



Freshwater is steeped in literary history, home to Tennyson, Dodgson aka Lewis Caroll as well as Julia, the Freshwater Circle lives on in it's Bohemian artistic residents. Dimbola, run by local Volunteers including Gail, is at the heart of the community providing work for locals, a wonderful spot for a locals get together over coffee or a High tea in the fabulous Mad Hatter Tea Room. We had lunch here on Sunday spending the entire afternoon sat in the garden basking in the sun whilst tucking into a fabulous lunch including one of the best Victoria Sponges I've ever tasted.







I debated whether to let you into my Freshwater Bay secret (not really my secret to keep I know but I like to dream), it is so secluded and magical it would be a shame for it to become yet another busy tourist ridden village, though I suspect it's faithful residents would never allow an arcade to spoil their perfect sea front. It is as if time has stood still here, I kept thinking Tennyson would suddenly step out in front of us or Julia Margaret Cameron would jump out with her camera to snap the girls in their Victoria dresses. I am an Isle of Wight convert planning her next foray into this island's soul.