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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

The IOW Needles

 April 29th

 Two things made our stay at this car park memorable. The first was the Barn Owl patrolling the field opposite. Not a great photo of it as the sun was going down, and operator error meant I had the camera on the wrong setting!

And second, the sunset itself. Only downside, it disappeared over the land instead of the sea. 


This was a wonderful place to spend the night. The sound of crashing waves as the tide turned was the only thing that did wake me briefly. A lazy morning was spent, although I did finally get round to sweeping the carpet! Alum Bay was the destination today, to see the Needles. I took this excerpt from Isle of Wight.com

The Needles are one of the Isle of Wight’s most iconic sights. These three white chalk stacks leading up to the Needles Lighthouse are the first thing that many people think of when they hear to words ‘Isle of Wight’. The Needles are more than just a beautiful sight. There’s plenty to do here, from the world-famous Needles Rocks to the Needles Old Battery and much more. Discover the outstanding landmarks and places of natural beauty that makes The Needles what they are today, well known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs and stunning coastal views.

Driving through Freshwater more flooding was seen. This time the entrance, as well as part of the car park, were underwater.

Parking at the Needles car park was not cheap for the larger vehicle! £6 for cars but a massive £10 for motorhomes. the only saving grace was the Needles were part of NT land and although the car park wasn't, because we were NT members, the attendant took £2 off the fee.

It's a fair old walk, mostly uphill, and can be walked either on the road or cliff path. On the notice board at the start of the climb, there was mention of a cafรฉ, toilets and a chance to wander around the Old Battery. It stated above the opening times that it was open from March to November. Not that the Battery interested me, that's more Ian's department, but the thought of a welcome drink after the climb was more than agreeable. 


 It was to the Battery and cafรฉ we made for as the first stop, down the road instead of continuing up that track. but oh no.... our luck was a bad as ever because as we got nearer, we could see it was closed. And even more upsetting was the cafรฉ looked to be shut too. It could be seen through the very large iron gates which had been secured by a bloody great padlock! There didn't appear to be any way around, so the hope of a cup of tea were dashed.

The road led upwards, so we followed to where a sign pointed us in the direction of the viewing point. The views were pretty impressive, we could see the mainland, so close, yet so far.

More erosion meant the steps leading down to the beach were closed. The only way down was by chairlift, we debated and then decided against.

Up steps, down steps a path was followed, more steps down and because no sign of this view point could be seen, Ian was sent offered to go down a check what was at the bottom.

With a thumbs up I descended and sure enough, there stood the Needles 

Now for the climb back up. Reached the top knowing a descent was necessary, and as always this was what both of us dreaded most.  It's always the walk back down that's a problem. Those suffering with bad knees know all about that! Occasionally I looked up from studying the ground for trip hazards, and took a photo of the cliff with its many colours of sandstone.

Back at MB, a spot of lunch was had before leaving for Yarmouth. The ferry booking for our return to the mainland was made before we had really thought about it. We should have returned the way we came, Fishbourne to Portsmouth, we hadn't planned on returning to Portsmouth but decided to see the Tudor Mary Rose, HMS Victory and Warrior. A drive back when we arrive at Lymington will now have to be done. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself because we stopped for a look at Yarmouth Castle This was the last fortification built during a national programme of coastal defence that Henry V111 had begun in 1539.  This was another English Heritage property, cost £6.50 for seniors, and well worth a visit if in the area. 

Dads Army. Looks the part, don't you think.

The ferry tomorrow is at 10 am so we looked for somewhere to stop tonight. An app Ian had showed a great place nearby called Victoria Fort. Wow, right by the sea front, what a lovely place to stay. 


We got nicely set up, and went for a walk. Ever skimmed stones? Ian showed how it was done.


Got back and started to prepare dinner.  Ian spied a notice in the distance, and went to investigate. He returned with bad news. Yes, you could park for 24 hours, but noone was allowed to stay in the vehicle overnight. Right, where to go now. Another look at the app and a place was found at The Mount. It is right next to the shore, but the bays were a tad short for MB. Still, we found one where we hoped we wouldn't get hemmed in and as it was now 6 pm and the required time to purchase a ticket so you could stay until 10 am, £2 was put into the machine and the ticket taken.

Early start tomorrow, we have to leave this spot before the parking attendant appears. Apparently, another motorhomer was fined for not being within the bay lines and he was issued the fine after 9 am. Best not oversleep then.

And wildlife

Common Linnet I think

Mistle Thrush

Monday 29 April 2024

IOW erosion

 I think we chose the wrong week to go to IOW. More rain fell overnight, the wind picked up and as luck would have it, the bloody cassette full light came on just as we were getting ready for bed. Ian was sent out to change it. I had a very good excuse for not doing it, I had already got myself undressed, the PJ's were on and Ian had yet to get ready for bed. Stood to reason then don't you think?

This time we managed to sleep through it all. Nothing at all like the monsoon conditions of two days ago, both of us were, nevertheless, very glad we had not returned to the woodland car park. There was some   concern when we woke this morning about MB getting off this site. On a slope and MB facing uphill, the amount of rain on an already sodden field had us wondering if the tyres were man enough to get us going and not start spinning. Ian was again sent out with a brief lull in the rain about 7 am to go and check ground conditions and to take the full cassette (left under MB last night) to the elsan to empty. He came back reassured that the ground felt firm, and didn't expect any difficulties. 

Just before we left, in the field opposite, three Llamas came careering over the brow of the hill. Took us both by surprise!

No problems at all in leaving the site, first stop was Asda for a food shop, followed by a stop at Matalan in Newport for me to purchase a new hoodie, (my old faithful had started fraying at the sleeves and although it broke my heart to part with it, just had to be done). Then it was off to Shanklin Chine to walk the gorge to the waterfall.

Very evident on the roads was the amount of rain that's fallen over the past few days. Partly run off from the fields but also some blocked drains,

If we had no luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all! Due to last night's bad weather, part of the gorge had been closed to the public. Something to do with falling debris on the footpaths (trees, branches?) This was told to us by the lady manning the kiosk at the Old Village entrance, although there was a way to see part of the attraction if we went to the second entrance by Shanklin Esplanade. I suppose we could have done that, but the part we really wanted to see, the waterfall, was inaccessible. What was also really annoying, we had paid for 3 hours parking, £6 was not too bad but in these hard times, every penny counts.

We decided to walk up to the tea rooms by the park. There was mention of Red Squirrels, that got both of us interested. But did we see any? Did we heck! We also had a cuppa, and Ian nearly went for an ice cream. Crikey it was only 8 degrees which actually felt like 3 with the wind. Nothing ever stops that man from wanting ice cream! A crazy golf course was by the tearooms, well that would kill a bit of time we thought.

Ian won, and I started so well too!

With the park on the doorstep and another mention by passers-by that squirrels could be seen playing on the ground, of course we went on high alert. Necks craned looking up to the canopy, eyes also peeled looking at the ground, there were still no sign of any. We did notice worrying signs of bank erosion, All the bad weather has had a detrimental effect on this island's cliffs, in fact there are some amazing photos on the County Press website. Click HERE to view. The main road from Shanklin to Ventnor was closed beginning of this year due to a landslide. To view that photo from the Island Echo click HERE

 Ian checked to see how much time was left on the car park ticket. 75 minutes, so to kill even more time, it was into the gift shops for a browse. Neither of us like shopping, so it was surprising that I came out with a serving spoon holder (saves putting a dirty spoon on the work surface when one is cooking) and a small container for used teabags. Another 20 minutes killed, this time we did go back to MB.

Drove down to Shanklin with the hope of parking on the esplanade. Because the sun had finally put in an appearance, Shanklin was packed. We called it quits, making our way the long way round to Ventnor. Here we found a lovely NT car park overlooking the sea. This will do nicely for tonight.

A path near the car park led down to the beach. It was decided to go for a walk and guess what, more cliff erosion meant this path was closed. Oh well, back to MB for a well-earned cup of coffee.

Sunday 28 April 2024

A giant towers over the village and MB is injured.

 OMG...Never have we had rain like it! The noise woke us in the wee hours, the drumming on the roof sounded like us being under a waterfall. The roar was something else. It came in waves, we could hear it coming over and over again, So dark outside, impossible to see what was happening and at one point, did wonder if we were anywhere near to a river!  Needless to say, very little sleep was had until after 4 am when as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. More rain is forecast for the next few days. Looks like wet weather gear will be worn a lot from now on.

By the time we stirred, it was after 7 am and the dog walkers beginning to arrive. Breakfast was had and as the car park was filling up, thought it best to move on. With the iffy weather forecast, we made for an indoor attraction, Butterfly World nr Ryde.

Cost with a voucher was £15 for us both, quite a good price considering what was to see. The one disappointment was the butterfly house, very few were seen and those we did see hung from the netting mesh under a perspex ceiling.  But a small Italian garden with fish ponds and then into another Japanese style garden, with huge koa carp all waiting to be fed (feeding time was at 11.30 am) all helped to stem the initial disappointment. 


I got to hold a corn snake, love the feel of snakes and no, contrary to belief, they are not slimy. The tarantula, though, I kept well away from, photographing it in its glass container where I felt safe. Other mini beasts were present, from stick insects to illusive frogs, leopard geckos and bearded dragons. 


We returned through the butterfly house in the hope that more butterflies would be seen. But nop, the numbers were poor, so I don't recommend going this time of year. It might be that it was just too cold, even though the house was heated, or not enough caterpillars. Either way, even with a free return in seven days, we won't be going again.

The next stop was to the model village at Godshill. Now that was definitely a great time waster. The entrance fee was £13 for two seniors, and we were given a quiz sheet to fill in. Well, kids at heart we took the sheet and for anyone visiting, young or old, it certainly makes you see things you would otherwise have missed. It was great fun, I think Ian really enjoyed it, especially as he wouldn't rest until the answer was found.  As per usual I took loads of photos but this one put the whole village in perspective. A giant among the little people.

That could be Ian and me on the bench. ๐Ÿ˜‚

This was our favourite.

It was to a proper site for tonight, Borthwood Caravans, near to Sandown. More heavy rain and winds were forecast, and we felt it better to be somewhere a lot safer than under a load of trees. It also gave Ian the chance to have a look at the damage he did to MB. Leaving the car park this morning, he failed to notice a huge muddy mound and as he turned the wheel to reverse out, a horrible scraping noise was heard. Consequently, the bottom panel of MB (is it called the sleeve?) was pushed in, the back wheel arch also affected. It meant the rear wheel almost touched the arch, not good for the tyres, and occasionally a horrible sound was heard. Anyway, before we left the Butterfly World, Ian had a go at trying to pull the panel away from the arch. He did succeed to some extent, but maybe a panel beater will have to be found.


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