Back in May we traveled over by ferry and spent three nights on the Isle Of Wight. Though it was great to have the car with us for a longer stay, we also became aware of how quick it would be to nip across as a foot passenger on the hovercraft and do a day trip. So on Monday that's exactly what we did. It was yet another family birthday (Jim's this time) and a good excuse to do something different for the day.
Of course the only problem with traveling by foot is how you get around once you get to the island. I checked in with Caroline who blogs over at Scraps Of Us as I knew she' knew the island well and she recommended the open top Downs Breezer bus which does a circular route from Ryde stopping at most of the island's tourist hot spots. I was slightly nervous as I had a 3 year-old, a husband and a father-in-law in tow all with different levels of expectations, but in the end, we had a brilliant day.
We got the 10:30am Hovertravel crossing, which arrived at Ryde 10 minutes later, giving us 45 minutes to explore the pier before the bus left. Ryde pier is not only open to cars, but also has a train that runs along it and a Costa Coffee at the far end and some pretty nice views of the scenic end of Ryde towards Cowes...
We took the anti-clockwise route and our first stop was half an hour along the route at Arreton Barns where we toured the selection of craft shops and stopped for lunch and a pint of real ale at the Ploughman's Daughter. The food was brilliant and due to our enthusiasm to tuck into it we neglected our parental duties slightly and a small accident occurred which resulted in Theo spending the rest of the afternoon touring the island wearing no trousers. I figure this is one of those great stories we'll be telling him when he's older...
But anyway... after lunch and some feeding of the ducks, we hopped back on the bus and after another thirty minutes down winding lanes and over the top of the Downs (getting a stunning view back towards the mainland) we were in Sandown at the Isle Of Wight zoo... a zoo so small it turns out it does not sell shorts or trousers in its gift shop... just in case you are wondering!
After a couple of hours visiting white lions, lemurs, tigers and some merekats, as well as a lot of stamp collecting in Theo's zoo passport, it was time to squeeze the boy back into some slightly damp trousers and hop on the bus for the final 20 minute loop back to the hoverport.
We arrived back in Ryde slightly early for the 5:30pm crossing we were booked on, but were able to jump on the 5pm without any problems. As soon as the engine started up Theo was asleep, what had been so exciting 7 hours previously, was soporific on the return!