Monday, 25 July 2011

I'm loving' it!

The circuit of the Isle of Wight was something I'd been looking forward to. It's many years since I was there and I was interested to see how things had changed - if at all. My anticipation was slightly tempered by the concern that when I turned left at Bembridge I would be heading in the 'wrong' direction for the rest of the day. As it turned out, all was fine and I felt none of the pangs that I had experienced around the Tamar at Plymouth a few days ago.

The Isle has changed; it doesn't seem 'old-fashioned' any more. Perhaps if I had ventured inland I might have found more of the old-world place that I remember.

The condition of the roads on the island was very poor, with many potholes and bumps. I met a group of three cyclists, one of whom who had had two punctures in the ten miles since arriving on the island.

It was a great benefit getting on to the island last night; it gave me a flying start and meant that there was no rush to get round. I was able to spend some time at each of the harbours - Ventnor, Bembridge (where I had an early lunch), Ryde, Fishbourne, Newport, Cowes, Newtown and finally Yarmouth. Cowes was rather too crowded to enjoy it, but Newport, with its riverside wharves, was a surprising delight (I'd not been there before).

I'd been recommended to visit Newtown, which wasn't on my list of harbours. Despite its name, the town - now a small village - dates from the late 13th century. It was once an important medieval port, but internal squabblings amongst rival landowners led to its eventual demise. The whole village is a conservation area, managed by the National Trust. The Old Town Hall has been restored and I was able to use my NT membership card to gain free access to its interesting interior. With its clock striking 4, it was time to leave, as I had planned to catch the 17.15 ferry from Yarmouth, back to Lymington. There I met Trish Steel, who whisked me back to her house south of Salisbury and a welcome shower and shave. An excellent coq au vin followed, washed down with at least two glasses of red wine (I can't remember how many).

So, one of the better days, despite the island being more hilly than I had expected. The warm sunshine enabled me to remove the long-sleeved jersey for the first time for several weeks.

I had intended to mention yesterday that I nearly came a cropper when a driver opened his car door just as I was passing. I shouted, and he saw me, simultaneously. I swerved and he pulled the door inwards. We must have missed by millimetres. Needless to say it was a 4 x 4. Fortunately there was nothing overtaking me as I didn't have time to look behind me. I could write a book about poor drivers!

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