We’ve been itching to get back on the road again, so when by chance a friend needed a ride to the Isle of Wight, we gladly volunteered our services 😉
We enjoyed the isle more than either of us expected. The pace is slower somehow; driving was easier, despite the roads not being in the best condition, because of lower traffic levels and other drivers seeming more patient and relaxed. Wild camping was also a doddle; perhaps we were lucky but we didn’t encounter a single ‘no overnight parking’ sign in any of the beautiful nature-surrounded places we parked.
We got to see a good selection of places across the island; nicely spread between natural beauty spots and a few visitor attractions we were interested in.
It’s also a haven for foraging. We came across blackberries, walnuts, chestnuts, plums, apples, elderberries, figs, pears, beech nuts, grapes, herbs such as chamomile, rosemary, sage; and marsh samphire and sea purslane on the salt marshes.
A few days into the trip we heard a grinding noise coming from a front wheel – eek! A call to the AA confirmed that the wheel bearing that we had ‘adjusted’ on a previous service had simply had the bolt overtightened as a temporary fix and now needed replacement… The AA were amazing: they found us a garage that could squeeze us in at short notice and arranged for us to be brought there. The garage was unsure if they could get Freyja fixed before the weekend but said they would try their best. The down side of living in a camper: when your car breaks down, your home goes with it! So back to basics. We grabbed the tent we had on board and went for a pint in the nearest pub, before walking to a nearby forest to camp for the night.
The next morning we dropped the tent back in the camper and found out that the parts had already been ordered… Hope! We set off to explore, keeping our fingers crossed.
A couple of buses and a 2km walk in the rain later, we reached our destination : The Garlic Farm. It was already on our list of places to see and, considering the weather, we figured something indoors would be our best bet. The farm was amazing, from the tasting rooms to the cafe food and drink (we’d tried garlic beer before, but this was pure art!) We also had the pleasure of sighting some red squirrels during our meal – beautiful! The icing on the cake: we got the news that Freyja would be ready to pick up by the end of the day. All’s well that ends well.
With the breakdown hiccup behind us, we drove down to the Ventnor botanical gardens. The landscape took us on a stroll through plants from around the world. Everything is laid out in such a way that you are drawn down paths and enticed into new areas and alcoves, without ever feeling like anything is too ordered, giving more of a sense of being in nature, just as a garden should be.
Our next destination was a cider orchard, with a conveniently placed winery next door. We’ve been experimenting with making fruit wines lately, so it was great to learn a bit more about the process and try some different varieties.
On our last day we went on a search for the Luccombe smugglers caves: a bit of a local secret. Unfortunately they can only be accessed between tides and we didn’t have good instructions on tracking them down; so as the sun was setting and the tide was rolling in, we had to admit defeat. No luck this time, but spending the afternoon scrambling up and down ledges along the beach was good fun!
We also took a double trip through Shanklin Chine to see it during the day and when it’s illuminated at night.
After nearly a week on the Isle of Wight we took our leave and headed for Eastbourne where Eva had arranged to meet with family. On the return trip we headed back along the coast, stopping at Beachy Head and Cuckmere Haven, before an evening drive towards the south downs where – after some dark and precarious country lanes – we spent the night in a pub car park.
We’re currently in Black Down, spending a quiet day wandering the forest, catching up on some work, and reflecting on some of the beautiful spaces we’ve travelled through.
It’s been so good to be spending some extended time on the road! We’ll need to head back to London soon to check on the garden (and the wine), hand in some work, and catch up with our extended family, but hopefully this will be a short stop and we’ll be back on the road again soon!