Tuesday was another day of lovely sunny weather. Although Chris and I had zig-zagged around the Isle of Wight over the years we had never visited Ryde. In its day this town, with its fine beaches, had been the Skegness of the island; what is it like nowadays? Answer: very interesting.
We had and easy run there and began with a stroll along the prom. There were no brass bands playing 'tiddly om, pom, pom' but it was lively, even out of season, and bright with municipal flower beds. Salvias of various kinds had been used extensively and were attracting hordes of insects. Bees and hoverflies were present and even a Humming-bird Hawkmoth. Macroglossum stellatarum, called in, although it zoomed away before I could grab my camera.
A stroll up the main shopping street was a must. The shops form a sort of time capsule; the crowds of the 1950's and 1960's have gone but there are still one or two 'Kiss me Quick' shops and a curious assortment of other 'emporia' also linger on. Our stroll involved much giggling, pointing and general window shopping. There is even a Donald McGill museum. McGill was the Leonardo da Vinci of the saucy postcard; master of the double entendre. Being very refined people we gave it a miss!
|The Appley Tower, Ryde. |
8 September, 2015
Following the obligatory coffee we ventured further along the prom (sorry, esplanade), enjoying the sunshine. Striding eastwards towards Puckpool we soon came to the Appley Tower. This curious Victorian 'castle' was built in about 1875 as a garden folly, the garden being estate land owned by the Hutt family. It was Sir William Hutt who had the tower built and it is now one of the few remaining structures on the former estate. The folly is now in private hands.
We pressed on as far as the Boathouse pub (coffee) and found ourselves accompanied by Dad's Army. There was no clue regarding who put it the model figures there but the pub stands within a stone's throw of the huge gun emplacements - Puckpool Battery - which we later inspected as we returned via Puckpool Park.
And so back to Cowes.
The final full day, Thursday, was reserved for mooching around West Cowes, with it odd assortment of shops. Many of these have a nautical flavour and one feels that without the trade which yachting and other water activities bring, Cowes would struggle to maintain its population of some 9,500.
John gave it a miss, deciding to put his feet up; I let Ann and Chris push ahead while I strolled along the shingle beach to examine the strand line.
|Dulse washed ashore at Cowes. 8 September, 2015|
We generally take seaweeds for granted. This, I believe, is Palmaria palmata. Known as dulse it is being increasingly recognised for its culinary value, but I decided to leave it rather than harvest it.
|Sea Lettuce was extremely common. Cowes, Isle of Wight.|
8 September, 2015
Also common was Ulva lactuca. This too is occasionally used in soups and salads - but not by me. In fact 'Ulva lactuca' is only one member of a complex genus requiring expert identification, so I should really be content with using its common name of Sea Lettuce. Occasionally vast quantities of it are washed ashore where it rots, producing noxious gases.
|The internal 'shell' of Sepia officinalis. Cowes.|
8 September, 2015
A cuttlefish bone was also among the debris. It forms the skeleton of the animal and, as it belongs to the Mollusca, i.e. related to snails, this 'bone' should really be referred to as an internal shell. By far the commonest of the three species in UK waters is Sepia officinalis, and I'm assuming that this is what I found.
With the shoreline yielding little else I made my way into town and, after an hour or so of doing not a lot, found Ann and Chris having coffees and joined them.
The following day we packed (why, in spite of buying very little, did there seem so much more than we came with?) and set off for the ferry. The sunshine held and we spent nearly all the voyage on deck enjoying the view.
|'World Odyssey' moored at Southampton.|
10 September, 2015
Everything from cruise liners (my idea of holiday hell)...
...to work-worn oil tankers disgorging their cargo at the huge Esso refineries at Fawley.
As is generally the case, by now we were keen to get home. So often one needs a rest after a holiday! John must have been tired, with the combination of heavy traffic and boring motorways but he got us back safely.
We had the equivalent of four days on the island. I arrived home to find I'd put on four pounds. Ouch!