…All aboard for the Isle of Wight!
While Peppa Pig may have been the plan driving into Southampton it was a plan that swiftly changed once we drove past the ferry port and saw a ship with the same name as the rugby team I work for!
Deciding it was fate, as soon as we had checked in I was onto the Red Funnel website booking us onto the same ship for the following morning for a trip over to the Isle of Wight. Leaving at 8am on Wednesday 17th August 2016 and returning at 7.30pm the next night cost us a bargainous £58.25 for me, the mini adventurer and our car.
TOP TIP: There are various operators that run ferries from the South Coast to the Isle of Wight so do some price checking as cheaper offers may be available from a different port.
I was however really impressed with Red Funnel and how easy it all was, We just had to arrive half an hour to an hour before our departure time where we were given our passes, parked up, and went to grab some breakfast and a cuppa from the onsite café. Then we just drove on board, went and checked out the shop and café and watched the views, and an hour later drove off. It was Luka’s first ferry ride and he absolutely loved it.
The hour on the ferry also gave us the chance to pick up some leaflets and get some ideas on how to spend our 35 hours on the island.
Luka, as with most young children I expect, loves a train so the Isle of Wight Steam Railway was our first stop. Booked online Adult 1st Class All Day Rover tickets cost £18.50, children £13.50 with under 4’s (as the Mini Adventurer was then) go free. Third Class tickets are £6 cheaper each and the only difference is getting to sit in first class on the train. (All prices are summer 2018 prices).
The train ride itself through the Isle of Wight countryside was lovely and not too short like some I have been to and there were lots of other fun things to do. I could barely drag Luka away from playroom with all the toy trains, there was a lovely little park next to the café for Luka to play in whilst I enjoyed a cuppa (I’m basically fuelled by cups of tea!) and the museum was a total hit. We both really enjoyed looking at the old carriages and playing train drivers. All in all a reasonably priced and enjoyable day out for the whole family but a must for train fans.
One of the things I loved about the Isle of Wight is that there is so much to do and because it’s no small (you can drive from one side to the other in less than an hour) nothing is far away.
20 minutes after leaving the railway we were at the Isle of Wight Zoo. Again another reasonably priced attraction, just under £21 for an adult and child (2018 prices) and when we went there you could return within a week for just £1.
We saw monkeys, wallabies and all manner of big cats (check out my tiger selfies!) but Luka was most excited by a….goldfish! With him shouting in excitement, “Mummy, mummy, mummy, it’s a goldfish” at loudness levels only a three year old can manage, and almost falling in the pond in his desire to get closer much to the amusement of everyone around, I realised that while he’d been to many zoos in his short life and seen all manner of exotic animals, he’d never actually seen a goldfish. To this day I can’t work out if that’s a parenting win or fail!
During our adventures we looked for a hotel on the Isle of Wight and despite being the height of the summer holidays there were loads of bargains to be had (under £60 a night thanks laterooms.com) but I decided to splurge slightly and go for a night in a balcony room at the lovely Wellington Hotel in Ventnor (which is unfortunately shut now). It cost £130 for a night, which may not be much to some, but is more than I tend to pay for a hotel as I love a bargain and we don’t usually spend much time in the room. However while sitting on the balcony that evening once kiddo was in bed, listening to the waves crash beneath me with a glass of wine in hand and a good book I realised it was worth every penny. Travelling with children it’s obviously centred around them but it’s important to take time out and spoil yourself a bit, it’s a holiday for you too after all.
Ventnor is a gorgeous little town on the beach and definitely somewhere I’d look to stay in if we go back to the IoW. We walked down to the Spyglass Inn for dinner, which is somewhere else I’d definitely return. It’s literally right on the beach, grab yourself a place on the terrace to really enjoy the stunning view, and the food was delicious and well priced (less than £20 for a HUGE plate of steak and chips). There was a bit of a wait but that was to be expected on a warm summers evening when every table was full.
In fact my only complaint was that ordering was not single parent friendly. You have to order drinks and food separately from a small bar area inside on which there was a big sign saying no children. Hmmm bit of a problem especially given the 10/15 minute wait to be served. Obviously there was no chance I was leaving a three year old on his own so I took him with me. To be fair the staff were friendly and no one said anything, but just the sign itself was pretty off-putting to a parent traveling/eating alone.
Just before bed for Luka and the balcony for me, there was time for a late night stroll on the beach, the perfect end to a fantastic day.
Read about day 3 HERE.