As usual we have been incredibly busy lately. Not only were we involved with the village jubilee events -all of which went well, if a little chilly I am pleased to say - but recently we have had lots of people offering us books for sale. We are of course always pleased to see books for sale, as we hope to find just the books we are looking for, to meet our customers needs, but going through the books to see them, either via lists or going on house visits, takes up time (even if enjoyable - I do love routling through books) and then when we get them home, I have lots of sorting to do way before they ever get listed for sale. In amongst this, and all our other usual work and activities, we were also due to visit the Isle of Wight for a week. This was to be a family event - indeed celebration, as my parents will soon reach their diamond wedding anniversary (60 years) and wished to celebrate it with us, and my brother and his family all together in a holiday house on the Isle of Wight. They had hired a fabulous house for a week, and we all planned to spend the week there - hopefully basking in the sunshine and exploring the island. The last time I had visited the island I was 13 - I in fact had my 14th birthday there. I had gone youth hostelling with 3 of my school friends, and had nostalgic memories of my first holiday adventuring off on my own, without 'grown ups' in 1968. Jeff too had only been once before - in 1967 with his family, and was eager to see the Island again.
We crossed on the Ferry from Southampton to Cowes. I must admit the queues in Southampton to get to the Ferry were quite a shock - and we managed to miss the ferry, not a good start, but they transferred us onto the next one, the ferry people were obviously used to this. The Ferry was quite a pleasant experience, and I went with my young niece and her mum to listen to the story teller on board tell us tales to make the crossing more entertaining. At the other side we drove in the sunshine to our destination which was a village called Bonchurch, just by Ventnor, and the house we stayed in was indeed lovely - especially the gardens - an acre which went down to the sea, and quite a site to behold. Indeed a little corner of paradise.
Unfortunately we did not see a huge amount more of the sun during the week, just the occasional little burst, but a great deal more of the rain, which really was a shame as it meant we could not appreciate the garden as fully as we would have liked to. Nevertheless, it was a lovely place to be. Of course, as well as generally exploring, I was led a little by the locations of where bookshops were - but of course this does have the advantage of taking you to places that you maybe woudn't have otherwise gone to. We made a point of visiting a village called St Helens, where someone had told me there was a book shop, and I am pleased to say it was still there (so often you do go to places where you are told about book shops, and they have gone, as was the case in Ventnor), and we also went off to a place called Yarmouth, a lovely place when we got there, because we had been told there was a book shop there. The shame was it has taken us so long to get there and have a look round, that when it came to bookshops, the others in the party didn't want to wait while I looked round, (that's the problem of going with 'non-book' people) and so I was out voted and had to leave without looking inside. The height of frustration.
Needless to say the 4 year old member of our party had a wonderful time. Even if the sun wasn't constantly shining, she did manage to go onto the beach a few times.. She also introduced me to the joys of 'Mist' (a real life working sheepdog) the Puppy sheepdog who lives on a North Devon Farm - created by David Kennard for Channel 5. Of course being a dog person I immediately fell for Mist and all her sheepdog family and have become a firm fan. Come my nieces bedtime, Jeff, Susie & myself were lined up to watch the next episode of Mist !
To be honest I am not sure how much the Isle of Wight has changed since I was there before. I couldn't find one of the Youth hostels, and suspect it has long gone. The island seems to be much busier, with far more traffic than I remember, but maybe that is false memory - and we didn't have enough time to fully explore the island. Maybe I need another visit, in the sunshine, to explore further and get round the rest of the bookshops.
The crossing on the way back on the Saturday was pretty choppy, and it it took most of the day to get back . General verdict - Isle of Wight was quite nice - but it doesn't beat my good old Norfolk!