4 Sept 2011

I love Wight

I've been away again, saying goodbye to the end of the summer by way of a quick trip over the water to the Isle of Wight.  I planned it back in the winter months when I longed for blue skies with fresh salt sea air and, although it felt a bit rushed getting away, it was well worth it.

I've been many times before so I was well into my comfort zone: roads, shops, caf├ęs and campsite were all familiar.  I usually camp but, this time, I hired a small caravan in my favourite site - a place that's been planted with many apple trees and been the worthy recipient of a conservation award several years running.

apple tree

The caravan made a great base camp and had a gas fire for chilly evenings - bliss! We ate out, bought picnics, and started each day with a swim in the campsite (indoor) pool before heading out over the island in warm breezes and sunshine. 

Stones, sun, sea
Sunny day at Freshwater Bay
Four days with minimum domestic chores was the best decision I could have made, I came back feeling totally refreshed - only to pick up a particularly virulent cold that's stopped me in my tracks over the last three days. C'est la vie - but very annoying given the amount of work to do in the garden.

The timing of my island jaunt was planned to coincide with an annual vintage fair that I discovered, quite by accident, several years ago.  At that time, I had a car full of camping gear, not a square inch to spare, and, frustratingly, came across vintage suitcases and wonderful old gardening tools, all reasonably priced. I had my fingers crossed that the fair would still be happening this year and so we ventured down to Old Winkle Street (a suitably named venue, if ever there was) in Calbourne on the Bank Holiday Monday.  Hooray! the fair was there; sadly, it had become a glorified car boot sale. Undeterred, I whizzed round while my son waited in the car - with his ipod, naturally.

This year the gardening tools were there, over- oiled and overpriced: old fork, £30! It makes you think, doesn't it?  Not what I had in mind at all and, although they had some lovely old wooden dibbers, I came away without tools.

Vintage garden tools
Vintage gardening tools
It seemed that the fair's reputation had spread over the years and, accordingly, was priced for the tourists not the locals. It was less about vintage and more like a charity shop. Gone were the Victorian lace making cushions, vintage buttons and old postcards, replaced with masses of decluttered ceramic and glass ornaments - objects I found very easy to resist. Thankfully, my visit was saved by a wonderfully retro stall with 1950s linen, painted wicker furniture and other ephemera and, yes, I did succumb to a vintage linen tablecloth which reminded me of the one my grandmother had on her kitchen table - seen below with some of the kilo of Cosse Violette beans which needed picking on my return. (The plants had produced one or two flowers before I left; I suspected I might come back to an avalanche of beans and I was right!)


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post, along with looking at the terrific photos. I especially like the second one.
    I haven't been there in ages but used to visit quite often.
    I'm sorry to see that you came back to a cold and hope that you're now feeling better! Flighty xx

  2. So glad you had a good time Caro, it looks fab and has made me think it is about time I paid a visit. I too love vintage stuff, but everyone seems to have got on the bandwagon don't they, but you can sometimes find the odd little gem. Looks like a great bean harvest, shame they turn green when cooked isn't it. Nice to have you back, hope the cold soon gets better.
    Elaine xx

  3. I've never been to the Isle of Wight. It sounds like you had a lovely time, just the thing to finish the summer holidays off. What a shame about the vintage fair, £30 for an old fork, wow. It's beans with everything for us at the moment, and I've still got plenty left over to freeze, I'm not complaining. Hope you're feeling better.

  4. Thank you Flighty, your comments are always appreciated! A few days on island always feels like a week away - it's like stepping back in time, if you avoid the main towns. I'm just recovering from my cold, thank you - at least I've got that one out of the way now! Hopefully immune system now fully restored!

  5. Elaine, next year I'll allow time to do the charity shops there as well - I spotted quite a few when walking around but, you know, teenage son in tow and not his thing! I'm pleased with the bargains I got and super-pleased I didn't spend too much! The beans harvest continues unabated ... with carrots, courgettes and now tomatoes as well! Lovely!

  6. Hello Jo, the Isle of Wight is a lovely destination, very similar to Devon or Cornwall but everything is within easy reach and the roads are usually very clear - such a pleasure after London! If you like a quiet holiday with lots to do for the kids (even my teenage son loves it!) and GREAT ice-cream (!) this is the place. The only fly in the ointment is the ferry fare ... (mine was included in the caravan price. Bargain!)

  7. Reading your post Caro has taken me back to childhood /teenager holidays on IOW. Still have a little glass lighthouse full of coloured sand. I also have a permanent scar on my temple where little brother throwing stones into the sea forgot his sister was in the way. Will have to return one day. Hope that you are soon over the lurgy. Take care.

  8. Hi Caro,did buy a vintage small border fork for £24 at Chelsea this year. It's a bit smaller than border forks you can buy nowadays, and although pricey, I use it every day and just love the feel of it. Off to France this weekend and hopefully a car boot sale or two there. Last year, we bought some beautiful tear shaped old wooden drying frames (for 3 and 4 euros each!) that were used in drying ovens for prune making. They're about 2 foot long and are amazing sculptural objects. Looking forward to see what we might find this year.V.best Naomi

  9. I love the Isle of Wight, happy memories of going over on the ferry with my Nan when I was a kid. I'm another one with a glass bottle somewhere full of layers of coloured sand. I also love Cosse Violette - prolific producer. Your break sounds lovely, sorry about your cold.

  10. Anna, hope you make it back to the island one day, it probably hasn't changed much! I too have a scar on my forehead from a stone throwing brother - mine had a catapult and apparently didn't see me!

  11. Hi Naomi, you'll be back from France now - I'm very envious and hope you had a marvellous time. Would love to hear if you found any treasures! I didn't know you could get vintage tools at Chelsea, I may see you there next year! xx

  12. Hi Janet, Isn't it amazing how we all have happy memories of the Island! My bottle of sand went awol a long time ago (my mother was great at de-cluttering when I left home!) and these days you can't go down to Alum Bay and collect your own. My souvenir these days is always a handful of rocks or sea washed glass! Still loving the Cosse Violette but they're a bit wind lashed now and getting rather big!


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