Being as we are growing our family this year and having just bought a house, we are forgoing any kind of ‘proper’ holiday this year (*sob*). So when a friend of mine let me know Travel Lodge were having a sale earlier in the year, I booked a couple of nights at the one on the Isle of Wight. I’d never been before and Stuart had fond memories of going with his mum & brother when he was younger so we had recently discussed going ourselves as a family.
I managed to book Sunday 13 and Monday 14 May at the hotel and I booked the 10am Red Funnel ferry from Southampton giving us plenty of day there on the Sunday without having to get up at too ungodly an hour and then likewise for the ferry home, for the cheaper tickets and to give us as much day there as possible, I booked the 17.30 on the way back. The hotel room came to £20 for 2 nights for a family room meaning it cost us more for the breakfast (which was extra!) which, considering Callum was free and we had a £1 discount, wasn’t cheap!
Now all we needed was the weather! Surely not a problem in May – to at least be fairly mild in temperature!!
As May arrived it looked set to follow in April’s footsteps as a complete washout but thankfully on the Sunday we went, the sun was out and it looked to be a lovely day! I’d checked the weather forecast and, unfortunately, the Sunday looked like it was going to be the best and only good sunny day so we had thought it best to use that day to go straight to Blackgang Chine. Blackgang Chine, for anyone who doesn’t know or hasn’t been, is a theme park style attraction but for younger children. There aren’t many actual rides – just a couple of water slides (where you sit on a dingy) and a rollercoaster that was broken when we were there – it is more about stuff to see and walk around. There was a dinosaur world with rather tired looking dinosaurs but Callum wasn’t bothered and kids were allowed to climb up them (as Stuart said, Health & Safety hasn’t quite made it to Isle of Wight yet, and is all the better for it!), there was Frontier Land with cowboys & indians, a pirate ship play area with water cannons to shoot at each other, what 3 year old little boy wouldn’t love it??!!
It was perfect for Callum and, I assume because of the time of year, not too busy so no queues for anything. As an added bonus, because Callum was under 4, he was free. Making it a very reasonable day trip at £10.50 for each adult. I’ve paid more to go to a farm which had a lot less to do so I thought this was pretty good.
We were there for about 4.5 – 5 hours which was plenty of time to take our time going round the whole park and we were all pretty knackered by the end of it – particularly with my OAP style hips and back at the moment!!!
Stuart having been there before, it was interesting to hear how the park had changed a little since he was younger due to about a third of it disappearing into the sea from erosion but the bits he remembered loving when he was little were still there if a little different or in a new location.
Here are some photos from our day:
Callum & Stuart enjoying the super whizzy slides that made up the Snakes in Snakes & Ladders
We headed to the hotel after the park which, apart from an empty bottle of cider or ale left down the side of Callum’s bed, was sufficient for our needs. No thrills but none needed! We dumped our stuff then headed into Newport town to get some dinner. We found an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant called Olivio’s where we had a lovely meal.
On the Monday the weather was a bit colder and more miserable. We drove round a few places and stopped off at Alum Chine to check out the Needles. The Needles Park was tired to say the least and is in desperate need a of a bit of TLC but we braved the treacherous looking chair lift down to the beach. We survived! The cliffs are famous for the layers of different rocks causing the cliffs and sand to be multicoloured with yellows, oranges, reds and blacks. I understand they used to let people buy bottles and fill them up with their own collection of multicoloured sand but they either don’t do that any more (they have ready made bottles in the gift shop) or weren’t doing it on the day we were there – perhaps it’s a seasonal thing.
We didn’t hang around with the weather being a bit meh, I’m sure it is a nicer experience if the whether is better.
For the rest of the day we just drove around the coast of the island (well I did while the boys slept!) and then gave in to the rotten weather and took Callum to soft play back in Newport! We ended the day with another lovely meal at the Bargemans Rest at Newport Quay.
Tuesday was home day but with the ferry not until 17.30 that evening we wanted something to do for the rest of the day. Again, the weather was a bit changeable but Isle of Wight is a bit lacking in indoor entertainment so we went to the Owl & Monkey Haven which is on the outskirts of Newport. Its quite a new attraction, less than a couple of years old I think, so it was clean and had a nice play area but not really much to see and we were done in less than 2 hours. Although £8.50 for adults and £6.95 for kids (3- 14) didn’t seem too expensive first off, for only a couple of hours where all Callum really wanted to do was play in the play area it was a bit disappointing really. We didn’t want to pay out for another attraction that day but with the weather like it was we weren’t fussed about hunting out free entertainment for the remainder of our stay either so after lunch we got an earlier ferry home!
Overall, I think we all had a nice time but it is definitely a fair weather destination. I would like to go back but think that even if the weather had have been nicer, a few days is enough or, being as its so close to us, even a day trip!