Day 4 - Tuesday 21st June
Weather - Cold, windy, cloudy with drizzly rain at times. It gradually brightened up as the day wore on with sunny intervals by late afternoon and evening.
Last year we went on an open top bus Breezer Needles Tour and had a great day so today we opted for the Breezers Downs Tour. The bus which runs every half hour follows a circular route stopping at various points of interest (in the case of the Downs Tour - Ryde, Quarr Abbey, Wootton Bridge, Steam Railway, Robin Hill Adventure Park, Amazon World, Newchurch Village, The Garlic Farm, The Downs, Rosemary Vineyard, Arreton Craft Village) and you can get on and off the bus as many times as you like. In fact, we first did a complete circuit to decide where we were going to explore!
We caught the bus halfway round the route having left the car at Arreton Craft Village.
The open top buses are a great way to see the island as you can see over the hedges!
and I saw a pair of grey partridge in a field near the Downs - a new bird tick for the year.
Our first stop was the village of Newchurch
The family disappeared into the pub whilst I visited the church. The sacrifices I make for my church visits - last year ice creams, this year a glass of wine!
The village is named after the Norman church originally built in 1087 by monks of Lyra from Normandy - only one wall remains today of the original building. The tower, thanks to its white boarding added in the eighteenth century, is visible for miles around.
As I entered the church I bumped into this figure which made me jump out of my skin! (It looked like something from a Doctor Who Adventure)
According to a couple of ladies in the church the figure was to be used in the flower festival at the church the following weekend.
The lectern is over 200 years old
The Francis Bamford Window (a popular vicar at the Church in the nineteenth century)
"The Adoration of St Francis" - a 17th century altar piece
The organ was installed in 1857
As I had less than half an hour to look round I only scan read the guide to the church and I discovered later I had managed to miss a rare copy of the 1716 Vinegar Bible so called because at the top of the page of Luke XX "The Parable of the Vinegar" is printed instead of "vineyard".
We continued our journey to Ryde where we ate our sandwiches on the seafront near the half mile long pier.
Next stop was Quarr Abbey
As we walked along the drive I was fascinated by the bark on an avenue of plane trees. When I looked at the photos the patterns reminded me of abstract art.
No donkeys here but there were some beautiful horses
There has been a Cistercian monastery on the site from 1132 until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1536. Stone for the original Abbey came from nearby limestone quarries and this stone was also used in the construction of Winchester and Chicester Cathedrals.
Some of the stones from the original Abbey are retained in these attractive houses near the ruins of the old Abbey
The only other remains of the original Abbey are a few walls and a storehouse.
The rest of the family had raced off to have a look at the new Abbey whilst I was taking photos and chatting to a tourist from America who had traced an ancestor to the Island. As I walked towards the new buildings to catch up with the family I spotted a movement in a tree - woohoo a red squirrel!! I watched it for several minutes running along branches and from tree to tree.
And here is the worst photo you will ever see of a red squirrel taken with the 14 - 42 mm lens - you might know I had left the telephoto zoom in the car. If you click on the picture in the centre you might just be able to make out the red blur of a moving squirrel!!
The present Quarr Abbey was founded in 1901 by Benedictine monks and the building was constructed between 1908 and 1912. It was designed by Dom Paul Bellot (a pioneer of 20th century expressionism).
Whilst waiting for the bus (we had just missed one!) I spotted these horsetails growing in the verge on the opposite side of the road.
We arrived back at Arreton just before 5.00 - it was a shame the craft shops were closing as there is a superb glass works and also a pottery shop where you can see people at work and buy some great glassware and pottery.
I paid a quick visit to the Medieval Carp and Duck Pond featured in the Domesday Book and
St George's church which dates from the twelfth century and was restored in 1886.
A few years ago we went on an organised ghost walk around the gardens of nearby Arreton Manor and Arreton Village and there were some really hair-raising spooky tales of ghosts in this churchyard.
In the evening we went a walk along the lane which runs alongside the cottage and paused where the trees met overhead to form a tunnel which was being used as a "racetrack" by local bats swooping after moths. Amazing experience as they flew straight at you only swerving at the last minute and you could hear and feel the wind whooshing over their wings. We also went a drive along the Military Road hoping to see barn owls but there was no sign tonight - not even in the area where we have seen them in the past. Still at least I had seen a red squirrel!
Returning to normality . . .
3 hours ago