After a hearty breakfast we walked along Sandown seafront, right in front of our hotel, to blow the cobwebs away
before we got on the coach for our first excursion, which was to IOW Pearl, which houses the largest collection of pearl jewellery in the UK. MWM didn't buy me any pearls as he said there wasn't a pearl in the world that could compare with me (Pearl being my name for those of you who didn't know). LOL he's so cheesy. There were also various other little shops on the site, one of which sold crystals and fossils found on the IOW. We noticed this gem whilst we were looking round that particular shop
we resisted the urge to buy it.
Boarding the coach again we made our way to Alum Bay, the location of the famous coloured sands, which are due to oxidised iron compounds formed under different conditions. The sands are used to create ornaments using the coloured sands layered in vials and jars, they were also used to make pictures, a popular craft in Victorian times known as marmotinto.
Guglielmo Marconi moved to Alum Bay in 1897 to experiment with radio. He installed a 40
metre radio antenna outside the Needles Hotel in Alum Bay. Initially
establishing communication with ships offshore, by early 1898 he had
successfully communicated with stations at Madeira House, Bournemouth and the Haven Hotel, Poole, 20 miles away.
The Needles is a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the IOW near Alum Bay. The Needles lighthouse stands at the end of the formation. Built in 1859, it has been automated since 1994. The formation takes its name from a fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot's Wife that collapsed in a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck. The Needles were featured on the 2005 TV programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of Southern England.
The Needles Pleasure Park situated at the top of the cliff is a small
amusement park with a selection of shops and rides. The most famous
attraction at the pleasure park is the 'chairlift', which operates between the park and Alum Bay. It was very windy that day so we didn't venture on it.
Our next stop on the excursion was Yarmouth, named for its location at the mouth of the small Western Yar river. Yarmouth is a crossing point for the river, originally with a ferry, replaced with a road bridge in 1863.
Yarmouth has been a settlement for over a thousand years, and is one
of the very earliest on the Isle of Wight. The first record of a
settlement here was in King Ethelred the Unready's record of the Danegeld tax of 991. It was originally called Eremue, meaning "muddy estuary". The Normans
laid out the streets of Yarmouth on the grid system, a plan which can
still be seen in the layout today. Until the building of the castle, regular raids on the island by the
French continued, and in 1544 the town of Yarmouth was reputed to have
been burned down. Legend has it that the church bells were carried off
to Cherbourg or Boulogne.
Yarmouth has it's own castle, built in 1547, it survives and is now in the care of English Heritage.
It is effectively a gun platform built by Henry VIII to strengthen the
Solent and protect the Isle of Wight, historically an important
strategical foothold for any attempted invasion of England. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the castle as we only had time to get some lunch and have a quick walk around the quaint streets.
It was quite a cold day and we were happy to get back on the coach to head back to the hotel to get warm and get ready for dinner. I think I said in my first post that the food at the hotel was superb, see here for a sample dinner menu.
To clarify for anyone who doesn't get the joke Fox's Glacier Mints are sweets/candies.
I hope you'll join me for IOW Part3 and our visit to Godshill and Cowes.