Charlie and I went to visit Mum & Dad on the Isle of Wight this weekend, for two days of beautiful spring sunshine. The talk was of New Zealand travels and future plans and we had a lovely time. It was Mum’s 80th birthday last December and to celebrate she’s planning her circumnavigation of the Island this summer in her kayak, which you and I and my father might think is a little short of bonkers, but she’s quite set on the idea. Which is quite exciting, looked at another way.
We went down to Newtown which is one of their and my favourite spots on the whole of the Island, which you will already know if you read the blog… and the story of Jim Downer that I wrote about last summer, here. It was lovely to be back. Jim’s house was just there, but about to be knocked down by the looks of things.
We popped into the little Gothic church next door to his plot, at the beginning of our walk:
The verges were filled with spring flowers:
I love the moment when you leave the track and walk out onto the Marshes:
My project at Fawley Power station way in the distance on the mainland:
Another regency Old Parsonage, in the village:
And a visit, as always, to the beautiful Old Town Hall, which is one of my favourite buildings. Sadly it was closed when we were there, but that didn’t matter.
(Looking back to last year’s blog I realised I took exactly the same photograph then). But then this year, a real treat. Mum & Dad had fixed a visit to the beautiful, simple house designed by Raymond Erith that I’d written about last time. It was wonderful to see and we had a lovely drink with the generous and friendly owners in the bright sunshine (and Charlie and I concluded that Isle of Wight strength gin and tonics are rather more powerful than elsewhere).
After lunch, Charlie and I went to Osborne – Queen Victoria’s sprawling, beautiful country house overlooking the Solent at Cowes. I had a sneaking suspicion that C might like the walled garden. And as they say: ‘it did not disappoint’.
An amazing datura plant:
We were looking back at photographs this morning which I had taken in the same greenhouse 11 years ago and it was then a tiny plant.
Incredible asparagus. Ours in Dorset hasn’t even begun to show:
The walled garden at Osborne is one of the most perfect I think I know. It is beautifully looked after by the English Heritage gardeners.
It was at this point that I realised my camera was running low on battery, that perilous happening, so the following photographs are a bit fewer and far between than you or I may have liked. But perhaps it is good – as in the days of old rolls of 24 or 36 films – to be forced to edit a little bit before you take a picture, not after? And perhaps it is good to enjoy the world seen through a pair of eyes, rather than through a single lens?
The bedding flowers are spectacular, and the breeze was strong with the scent of tulips, narcissi and wallflowers.
We walked down to the Swiss Cottage.
The Swiss Cottage was built as a play area for the Royal Children. It’s sublime. It is surrounded by beautifully tended vegetable gardens which were originally looked after by the Princes and Princesses (one suspects with a bit of help).
In a small pavilion are their wheelbarrows:
The whole of the Swiss cottage is surrounded by fruit trees and wildflower meadows, about as close to heaven as you can get.
We loved the little museum with its amazing collection of geological treasures and taxidermy, collected by the princes and princesses.
And then walked down to the recently opened beach, where it is wonderful to see Queen Victoria’s bathing hut back facing the sea:
And we ate ice-creams surrounded by the pink-and-blue tiles of this seat, where the Queen used to come to the shore to paint watercolours:
We walked back to the house up the wooded beautiful valley, almost completely alone. I took one last photograph and the camera died, which seemed just about the right last photo to have taken.
I love Island days. It was wonderful to show Charlie some of my favourite places, and, now, you.