By Harriet Whiting
When the weather is this good, why go abroad? Warm climes are set to continue through the summer holidays, so it’s time to appreciate what we have right on our doorstep.
With a weekend of cloudless blue sky looming, we planned a family mini-break to the Isle of Wight. The idea of travelling to an island appealed to our kids (boys, 4 and 6)—and made it more of a getaway, although only two hours from London. Arriving in Yarmouth by Wightlink ferry got us all in holiday mode, welcomed by the sparkling blue sea with yachts bobbing merrily in the harbour.
The island has a huge range of accommodation, from glamping to luxury hotels, and we chose the newly refurbished The Bay, Colwell. Our spotlessly clean, nautical-themed cottage was exactly what we needed, and best of all the beach was just five minutes’ walk away. At Colwell Bay, we found a sweep of sandy beach lapped by clear water and backed by pretty pastel-coloured beach huts. This is classic British seaside at its best, and within minutes the kids were searching for crabs, jumping over waves and building sandcastles. At one end is smart hangout The Hut and we watched those lucky enough to come by boat be ferried over to the restaurant. We joined them for an early supper and loved people-watching over a seafood platter as the sun set and the DJ played out tunes that wouldn’t be amiss at Cafe del Mar, Ibiza.
The following day we decided to explore the island, discovering its jaw-dropping cliff views and panoramas of sea and sky merging miles out at sea. Inland, the island has a pleasantly rustic vibe. We stopped at The Taverner’s pub in Godshill for lunch and loved the strictly local and seasonal menu; we ate fresh fish in the pub garden near the abundant vegetable patch that supplied the greenery for our plates.
As Blackgang Chine celebrates its 175th anniversary this year, we decided to let the kids have some fun and relive our childhood memories from this iconic theme park. Known as the Land of Imagination, the park’s quirky attractions such as ‘Underwater Kingdom’ and the old-school Hall of Mirrors enchanted our boys, and we all weathered our first family rollercoaster without too much drama!
On our last day we headed over to St Helens Duver National Trust to explore their pop-up nature trail based on the classic children’s story ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. The walk was easily manageable for little legs (less than a mile) but what struck us was the effort that the National Trust had put into engaging young visitors with nature, through carefully placed activity stations such as wild art, bug identification and bird spotting, with the help of gently encouraging NT volunteers. We even spotted a Beewolf in action—a rare wasp that ‘paralyses’ bees before carrying them into their underground tunnel to be eaten. Who said nature was boring?
As we waved goodbye to the retreating Isle of Wight from the sundeck of the Wightlink ferry, the boys’ feet still sandy from a last-minute beach visit, we felt like we’d had a proper summer holiday, but without airport hassles or tiring travel. Thank you, Isle of Wight—we’ll be back.