Our story begins in a Priory near Newbury, where students and teachers gathered together in the early morning sunshine to set sail on the good ship Ford Transit for Southampton. Pausing only briefly to investigate some enterprises local to the port, the party arrived in good time to board another good ship, the Red Falcon. This free bird of the Red Funnel Line was to take us down the often stormy Southampton Water and across the pirate-infested Solent for the largely unexplored environs of the port known as East Cowes.
Travelling intrepidly to the heights of the Island brought us to Carisbrooke Castle, where the ramparts were scaled. The massive embankments and redoubts, and even the flower gardens, provided ample opportunities to explore the rationale for such a structure. The donkey powered water lift proved a great hit as did the model ballista in the museum.
Upon returning to our hotel at the extreme south west of the Island, a fulsome repast was followed by an outdoor study session on the beach in the shadow of the impressive cliffs around the bay.
Saturday dawned windy and wet so an indoor study session followed breakfast. Then, later in the morning our party travelled to the Brading Roman Villa complex. The rain being held at bay by the impressive structure protecting the excavations and found artefacts, our team was treated to a fascinating treatise on the life and times of the rich Roman tax collector who had the villa built and maintained in a luxurious style. The quality of the decorative mosaic floors, still in exceptional condition, gave evidence of this.
In light drizzle, our intrepid team then entered the Island's attraction known as Dinosaur Isle. This exhibit has a wealth of original and copy dinosaur skeletons and reconstructions of the animals themselves. Our scientists revelled in the exposed animatronics and the microscope specimens on display.
After another ample dinner, there followed individual presentations from each member on their findings of the day.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, which heralded an after-breakfast walk to the nearby Dimbola Lodge, the original home of the Victorian photographic pioneer, Julia Margaret Cameron (no relation). Of particular interest were her original works with explanations of her favoured photographic techniques. Also of interest to our students was the modern photographic exhibit by the camera company, Olympus, of contemporary comedians. There was also considerable interest in the 1972 Isle of Wight pop festival artefacts and many photographs were taken with the statue of Jimi Hendrix at the front of the house.
Following a daring ride down from the cliff tops in a chairlift, lunch was taken on the beach at The Needles. Some paddling ensued and then the faithful bus was regained and used to transport us to Osborne House, where Queen Victoria spent her final years. The stunning panoramas back over to North Island entranced our party as did the opulence of the interior.
Tired but happy, the team boarded the Red Falcon for the trip home across the smooth green expanse of water. An uneventful drive up the A34 to the Priory marked the end of the adventure.
Until next time…
Mrs N Archer
A selection of photographs from this trip can be seen in Galleries.