"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Tuesday, 22nd June- Return to the mainland!

The weather is getting hotter although it goes nice and cool at night thanks to the sea breeze.

Today, unable to agree on where we should go and all being rather peeved over missing out on HMS Victory on Saturday we had the rather expensive idea of returning to Portsmouth and visiting the Historic Dockyard. We drove to Ryde and caught the catamaran which only takes 20 minutes and docks only a few minutes walk away from the museums.

We spent six hours at the Dockyard but even that wasn't enough time to visit all the museums and you could easily spend 7 or 8 hours there - its very good value for money.

First of all we took a 45 minute boat trip around Portsmouth Harbour which is included in the ticket. Saw lots of Royal Navy warships (haven't published any photos of these as these days there seem to be a lot of restrictions on photos of sensivitive places!)

Photo of figurehead from HMS Benbow

The Spinnaker (again)

HMS Warrior

Visited HMS Victory(Lord Nelson's flagship and the world's oldest commissioned ship) first - it is in excellent condition and you can walk all round the interior of the ship. It was all very impressiveand strangely moving.

A quick visit then to the Victory gallery and very impressive Trafalgar experience. The upper floor houses a collection of ship figureheads.

Next stop the Mary Rose Museum - this was really interesting as I can remember watching the raising of the ship on tv in the 1980's. The museum contains some superb tudor artefacts from the ship (sorry no photos as flash wasn't allowed). The ship itself is still being restored but will eventually go on display.

Final visit before we ran out of time was to HMS Warrior launched in 1860 and the only remaining ship from Queen Victoria's Black Battle Fleet.

Had a very late barbecue in the garden tonight and watched a green woodpecker anting on the lawn at the top of the garden.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Monday, 21st June - The Needles' Breezer

Today in glorious sunshine we drove off to Yarmouth to catch an Island Breezer for the Needles Tour. This is an open top bus which takes a circular route past various points of interest and you can hop on and off the bus as often as you like.

The first stop of interest was the 13th century Thorley Church of St Swithins. Unfortunately, my family (with the possible exception of my son) does not share my growing interest in churches and refused point blank to hop off the bus here!

After driving past Afton Down where the 1970 IOW pop festival was held we decided to visit Afton Park which consists of gardens, a wildflower meadow, plant nursery and an orchard which contains 150 apple trees.

We then hopped back onto the "Breezer" to travel to Freshwater which has some wonderful chalk cliffs and stacks.

Here are some photos (courtesy of my son, David) from the top of Tennyson Down.

We then walked past Dimbola, once home to Julia Margaret Cameron an important Victorian photographer.

The Jimi Hendrix Memorial Garden

Whilst waiting to hop back on the bus I was able to sneak a quick visit to St Agnes thatched church built in 1908.

The bus drove past Farringford House, now a hotel, but once home to Alfred Lord Tennyson.

We next alighted at the Needles Old Battery and ate a picnic lunch on the cliff tops. There were lots of blue butterflies flitting about but they could have been common blue, or adonis blue or silver studded blue. None of them stopped for long enough to be identified let alone be photographed!

Here are a couple of photos of the Needles again courtesy of David. I am afraid I don't "do" heights and although the viewpoint looked perfectly safe there was a terrifying vertical sheer drop on 3 sides!

There was a profusion of beautiful wild flowers on the cliff tops and, although the photos aren't very good, they give an idea of the variety to be seen. I hadn't got a wildflower id book with me but there were masses of sea pink/thrift (so evocative of cliffs), lady's bedstraw, wild thyme, birds foot trefoil, agrimony, cinquefoil and what I think were yellow archangel and common spotted orchid.

Right at the tip of the headland is the Old Battery (a National Trust property) - we have visited before so decided not to go inside this time but it is a fascinating place that has an underground tunnel leading to brilliant views of the Needles and it was once used to secretly test rockets.

Rather than waiting for the next bus we decided to walk back along the road to Alum Bay with its famous coloured sands. The quartz sands gain their different colours from the various minerals that are present.

An unusual garden just before you reach Alum Bay in aid of the Freshwater lifeboat.

We then hopped back on the bus to return to Yarmouth via Totland and Colwell Bays.

In the evening we went out for a meal at an old, picturesque Smugglers Inn in Niton called the Buddle Inn.