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If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name

It has been a while hasn’t it! I’ve just spent a week on the Isle of Wight, at the lovely cottage that I visited for a long weekend last Summer. This time there was more walking, and definitely more Photography – and more weather too! Luckily we picked the perfect weekend, even getting a little sunburned whilst climbing a few cliffs…as you do! So we spent the first evening witnessing an incredibly beautiful sunset across The Needles – a sunset that wasn’t to be matched for the rest of the week so we were lucky!

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The second day was my Birthday! Although I’d already had my main presents early – I opened an iPad from my boyfriend on Thursday evening (because I needed the internet before leaving otherwise I would have been a bit stuck!) And then an accompanying case and keyboard from my parents too. So I was already thoroughly spoiled! However there were more gifts on my Birthday and then we headed out to catch the open top bus tour into Yarmouth and explore a little more with the cameras. Afterwards, it was back up to the Needles for some more shots and a brisk and chilly walk down the cliff back to the warmth of Birthday cake and sunbathing!

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You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

We were lucky enough to haveĀ  a beautiful walk across a heathland, right behind where we were staying. So the next morning we got up early and wandered up there. It was a little steep, but worth it for the views back across the Island and over to the Mainland too. We even got Hurst Castle in some of the captures, which sits out beyond the coast and is quite majestic with its lighthouse.

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You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

And then followed a trip to Amazon World. I’m not usually a fan of zoos as such, but this was a bit different. It was a place where you actually got to walk through the animals in their natural habitat, even the monkeys! I managed to snap a few nice shots here and there whilst we were being distracted by an amazing assortment of Amazon animals.

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The following day saw us climbing – yes climbing – up a cliff to see what the view was like on the other side. It didn’t look all that steep from ground level, but it was and required hands to get to the top and a lot of energy! However it was worth it. The camera doesn’t do it justice, as it was so bright (hence the sunburn!) but it was simply amazing. From there we spotted Tenyson’s memorial in the distance, over at Freshwater Bay and decided to venture over to it (which took longer than it seemed like it would!)

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The final evening however, was by far the best in terms of Photography. We didn’t think we’d get a sunset because the fog warning siren had been sounding for almost 48 hours, and it goes off every 25 seconds (twice) so we were quite aware of it by then! But looking out the window we noticed the mists were drawing back ever so slightly, giving a fantastic rolling feel to the sea and clouds. Off we ventured up the cliff again, with the cameras – and snapped away. There’s even a video too if you visit my facebook page here -> https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151611699293529

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Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.
~Rachel Field

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“I fell in love at the seaside,
I handled my charm with time and slight of hand.”

– The Kooks

The plan to have internet whilst on an Island and still be able to blog daily with the images I’ve taken – didn’t work. We were so remote, my friends and I, that there wasn’t even a phone signal unless you sat in a certain place on the sofa with the phone balanced just so. But you know what? It was perfect, probably even more so without the intrusion of technology. Tucked nicely on the edge of a cliff, just around the ravine that nestles the famed Needles rock formation – was my home for four nights.

We left Mainland England behind us on Thursday with rainy skies and a chill in the air. When we arrived on the Isle of Wight we were greeted with brilliant blue skies, temperatures of up to 23 degrees Celsius and that summer holiday feeling. We were far too early so of course it seemed natural to go to the Isle of Wight Pearl – a beautiful place that overlooks endless sea and clifftops – and has exquisite jewellery. We explored a lot of the Island – lots more than we expected because of the rain, but we didn’t let it stop the holiday! We also had great photographic moments – with our fox cub visitors!

I took photographs every single day – but thought one blog now, would be sufficient. I’ve included a gallery at the bottom for those who want to skip the wordy bits! Enjoy…

The Needles

As I mentioned before – we were lucky enough to secure a restored hall as our home for the duration of the holiday. It’s now separated into three cottages, although we felt like ours took up all of the space as it was huge! The ceilings were wide and tall, the building was vintagey and old and every little touch was cute and quaint and fitted the general feel of the place. We overlooked The Needles! As you will see in the images, The Needles are three stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea near to Alum Bay. The lighthouse (working but no longer manned) sits on the end of the formation and was built in 1859.

The Needles used to be four instead of three. However the fourth needle shaped pillar collapsed in 1764. Above The Needles is now a pleasure park with a chair lift down the cliff to the bay that they are located on. We didn’t brave it this time – but I have done before and it’s breath-taking but daunting! Every day thousands of people visit The Needles, and we were able to be a part of it, although nicely tucked away and secluded.

The site also housed an artillery battery from the 1860s and the Down above was used to test rockets in 1956. The Old and New Battery are both able to be seen and walked around. We walked down the back of the Old Battery to the Needles viewpoint – amazingly steep and daunting, but beautiful. It was windy – too windy almost. Although the cliffs are only closed when the wind reaches speeds of force 8. It felt like force 10! In the shot below, right over in the distance are the cottages we stayed in – the furthest ones you can see and nicely remote!

The area is also home to Alum Bay – which is famed for its colorful sands. They give the shape and definition of the cliffs something different and almost surreal – stripy in a way!

Shanklin Old Village

The Old Village is very much attached to the new – but also very much a completely different world. It’s like stepping back in time, in a sense. The village houses a majority of thatched buildings, sweet shops, cider shops, pubs and tea rooms. We weren’t there in the evenings, but I’ve driven through before in the dark and it’s magical with fairy lights and wonderfully illuminated shop fronts. It was worth stopping by for lunch and a browse!

Dimbola Lodge

Dimbola Lodge won my heart. It’s the former home and studio of Julia Margaret Cameron. She was a Victorian Photographer. The Lodge was originally two houses that Julia bought and merged together by building a tower between the two. It’s beautiful and the exhibitions of her work (and others) inside were wonderful. Julia was known as a pioneer of photography especially for women because she handled cameras and chemicals during the times when photography was considered a black art. She photographed so many celebrities, and so many unknown faces – and she’s incredibly inspiring.

Whilst Julia’s work captured my inspiration, Dorothy Bohm’s opened my eyes to the fact that there’s no boundary where photography is concerned, you can go on forever and you might always be discovering something new. Dorothy Bohm wrote A world observed which is now, thanks to the lodge, in my possession and has already been perused several times! Her Photography features black and white images of women and children from the 1940s to the 1980s. Casual spontaneous portraits – classical work!

Dimbola Lodge had an area where you could dress up and they encouraged you to take pictures with their camera and then print them off testing some of the newer olympus equipment. So naturally, we encouraged one of our friends to don the attire and snapped away! There was also a bedroom left in the set up it would have been in during Julia’s days, which again was quite photographic. Dimbola Lodge (near Freshwater Bay) is a must see if you want to get away for a few hours and browse.

Additionally it houses Cameron’s bookshop – a tiny little bookshop tucked away with wall to wall – floor to ceiling – stacks of old books for sale! We spent a good 45 minutes browsing there too!

St Agnes Church

Just up the road from the lodge is St Agnes Church – an adorable little Church with a thatched roof! I’ve never seen that before and it’s the only one of its kind on the Island. That might sound like not a big deal – but there are a LOT of churches on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately it was closed, despite saying it would be open! But we got a nice look at the outside. The church dates from 1908 but contains a stone in its wall that dates 1622 which, understandably, confused people for a while!

Yarmouth

Yarmouth is a place I love visiting. It’s a little port on the western side of the Isle of Wight – coincidentally the one we sailed in and out of. It’s one of the earliest settlements on the Isle of Wight and it’s just perfectly beautiful. Cobbled narrow streets, old book shops, modern trinket shops and pubs make up the majority of the shopping area but the harbour with the boats and views is also quite lovely. It’s one of the smallest towns in the UK with a population of just 791 people. (2001). We ventured here on the open top bus and spent an afternoon eating and wandering around buying things!

“May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.”

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
-John Masefield –
Sea Fever

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