It seems from discussions about my solo business trip to Isle of Wight that I’m somewhat late to the party in visiting this island and even later discovering the delight of hover travel.
I was there for the second time this year, the first being during a turbulent windy February day when hovering over the English Channel in a giant bus resting on a balloon nearly didn’t occur (safety precludes travel when wind speeds reach 40 knots per hour). I was placated during the 15 minute journey (double the normal time due to speed restrictions) by a charming and experienced member of hover staff, who talked me through each windswept lurching jolt.
This time was a doddle by comparison. A calm beautifully mild day at the end of April, conciliatory babble unnecessary to calm me and a short but sweet journey time aboard the craft with c. 30 school kids (nothing to do with me).
My hotel was a 30 second walk from the hovercraft and initially looked ok, indeed the reception boasted quite a grand and opulent decor, sadly this wasn’t extended to the room which isn’t worthy of a rant because it was fairly typical of a sea-front English seaside town hotel with a demographic to match. Incidentally, I was asked at breakfast the next morning if I was part of the ‘coach trip’….. the cheek!
At the close of my business day I donned my running gear and set off along the sea front for a 4km return trip to Appley Tower, a local coastal folly. I happened across a couple of teenagers smoking the reefer, some dog walkers, some sort of coastal rescue practice and someone with Tourette’s. Pretty eventful. I returned via the beach which was ‘invigorating’ to say the least (north wind notwithstanding). The tide was out, I’m not sure if it ever comes in really but it was good for shell collectors as it was. I was the only runner around which suited me fine (my pace is shamefully slow).
On my return I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted what looked like some old rolling stock from the London Underground. I swear to god I’ve been in denial, I’m just going to out myself….. I’m a train geek. It transpires that the Island Line which extends running 8 1⁄2 miles (13.7 km) from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin boasts some really old trains, it kind of added to the experience that it all looked a bit jaded.
Following a solo dinner at local seafront Italian restaurant Michaelangelo and having downed 75% of a bottle of vino, I decided it was a good idea to do some tiddly train travel and took a joy ride aboard the train. Have to say it was amazing! It squeaked, it rattled, it smelled of the old Underground and it was full of drunk people (me included). It was £2.00 very well spent just for the commentary the conductor (are they still called that?) gave me for the entire duration. The next morning I was out early to get this shot of the training the early morning sun, freezing my bits off again but you’ve got to admit, that early morning lighting really does it justice!
Isle of Wight, in the words of Arnie…. I’ll be back!