We caught up with one family, based in the New Forest, to steal their ideas for the Perfect Day on the Isle of Wight.
Sam Lansdowne, husband Simon and three children: Emma Rose, Huw and Jessica are regular day trippers to the Isle of Wight via the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry. They’ve given us their top tips (including how to go crabbing for the price of an old bit of bacon!) for enjoying a fabulous day out over the water.
‘First we hop on the train to Lymington,’ said Sam. ‘Children love any different forms of transport and this lovely, nostalgic train trip is the start of a really special day.’ Then they climb aboard the ferry at Lymington as foot passengers; no need to book, just turn up, buy your tickets and wait for the ferry. There’s a lovely café at Lymington Pier, Emma Rose told me in reverential tones; where they sell great milkshakes! The ferry journey across is just wonderful, the masts on the yachts in Lymington harbour tinkle as the ferry pulls away and the views of Hurst Castle beyond and the Isle of Wight approaching are just enchanting. ‘It’s as though you’ve just jumped into holiday mode, even though it’s just for a day trip,’ said Sam. ‘As soon as you get on that ferry, you’re off into another world; it’s not just the kids who love it, we do too!’
‘We always take a picnic,’ continued Sam as Emma Rose frantically drew me a map of her favourite places to go in Yarmouth. They wander through pretty Yarmouth, visit the art gallery and the lovely children’s clothes shop, and then head out of the picturesque town square towards the pier, which is a great spot for crabbing. Emma Rose explained the mechanics of the perfect homemade crabbing kit. You’ll need one of those nets you get with washing powder tablets, a little bit of bacon and a roll of string; drop the lot in the sea (bag tied onto string, obviously!) and they’ll have hours of endless old fashioned fun! Pop your haul in a bucket and then throw them all back in when you’re ready for the next bit of your day. This may well be a spring time ice cream as, let’s be honest, the calories are welcome whatever the season! The Lansdownes told me that there’s a little hut on the pier which is perfect for shelter whilst you indulge.
There are plenty of spots for your spring picnic; Sam recommends the beach beside the pier. It’s sheltered with a grassy slope in case you’re all taken by the desire to do some rolling (a necessary part of many a family day trip) and has plenty of opportunities for every child’s favourite game; endlessly throwing stones in the sea! Then it’s back to the boat to share a plate of hot chips and watch the world sail by. The perfect end to the sort of day that family memories are made off…