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7 Mar 2012

Sea Sculpture

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I love the the old posts that used to support the groynes at Freshwater Bay.

The groynes were originally placed to restrict the movement of sand and pebbles along the beach, but only had a small effect on the beach and are long gone. All that is left is these lovely sea sculpted posts.

Sea sculpture Sea sculptureSea sculpture

At the bottom of the posts where the pebbles and sand grind against the wood as the waves roll in and out, this post has thinned making it look top heavy. This will eventually be ground away, break and be reclaimed by the sea. During storms pebbles have be forced into any cracks or holes and an old bolt is being slowly exposed.

As the beach changes after storms or long periods of calm weather the groyne posts appear and disappear. Sometimes in the summer as the Bay silts up and sand spreads across the beach all but the top few inches of the post are buried. Then a swell pushes in from the Atlantic  and the waves scour the beach and the sculptures reappear.

So if you are walking along the beach at Freshhwater Bay look out for these natural sculptures, especially if they are buried, as they can also be a serious hazard for the unwary.

2 Mar 2012

Walk the Wight

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The Isle of Wight Walking Festival has been held on the Island every May since 1999 and is the largest walking festival in the UK.

Isle of Wight Walking Festival

Walking the West Wight

It’s a popular event that attracts visitors from all over the world, some to do the famous walk across the Island from Bembridge to The Needles and Alum Bay, while others get involved in the numerous guided walks. These cater for all ages, abilities, distances and interests. One year they ran a ‘Date Walking’ walk, which I thought was agreat idea as conversation always seem to flow better when you’re walking.

But the the festival flagship is the “Walk the Wight”, an east to west long distance sponsored walk , with proceeds going to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. You don’t have to commit to the entire walk, as there are a number of joining points along the way, but my favourite is to join at Newport and walk to the Needles which takes you across some of the best scenery on the Island. You don’t even need to be sponsored – but you do have to pay an entry fee.

It’s a great atmosphere and I’d recommend it. One tip, don’t wear your brand new pair of walking shoes, wear the old, battered and worn in ones!


Full details of all walks can be found at www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk

28 Feb 2012

Dogs on Holiday

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Taking your dog on holiday with you can make a holiday very special event. Dogs also get bored with the same walks, the same smells and the same lamp posts! Dogs are pack animals and they just want to be with you and the rest of the pack, where they know their place and feel comfortable. New walks, new places and new people to meet is just as interesting for your dog as it is for you. They share the fun and enjoyment, are revitalised and like youself are also happy to get back home when the holiday finishes.


No dogs from 1st May to 30th September

But taking a dog, or dogs, away can also be stressful with lots of people, busy walks and crowded beaches. For a nervous dog this may not be the best time to be in an unfamiliar place. Another problem is that the beaches are often closed to dogs during the summer months, so at the time when they could enjoy the beach they aren’t allowed on there!

One way around this is to plan your trip during the dog friendly months of spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors, footpaths are quiet and beaches are empty and open to dogs. Renting a holiday cottage or apartment is also cheaper outside the summer months.

At the western end of the Isle of Wight we are lucky because there are beaches, like Brook Beach, where dogs are allowed all year. But there are are others; Compton, Freshwater Bay, Totland and Colwell which have restricted access.

So booking you dog friendly holiday out of season can provide it’s own rewards. For more information see the Dogs on Holiday section of the Studio Apartment Self Catering website

26 Jan 2012

Freshwater Bay Mural

Posted by Barney & Chris. 3 Comments

In the middle of the promenade at Freshwater Bay is an old concrete shelter, one of those popular in the 60s, functional, solidly built and with very little architectural merit. It once had glass in the window frames so you could sit inside on the bench, sheltered from the elements, and look out over the bay. But the glass disappeared long ago. The pillars and frames remain and it does still offer shelter from the rain in winter and the sun on hot days  in the summer.

Mural Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

Centre panel of the mural at Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

But the best thing that has happened to the shelter is the  mural. Created from glass, tiles, and other shiny materials, it features some of the Bay residents – cormorants, mackerel, bass, wrasse and pollock. It’s simply beautiful and even manages to lift the structure that contains it into something special.

Created by Catherine Van Giap mosaic artist who lives in Totland at the Seahorses Art Studio in Freshwater. The project was supported with money from West Wight Landscape Partnership and Freshwater Bay Residents Association.

For information on where to stay see self catering accommodation at the Studio Apartment

15 Jan 2012

The Solent

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The Solent is the name of  the stretch of water separating the Isle of Wight from mainland England.


The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight, naval craft and leisure boats. It’s an important recreational area for  yachting and with Cowes at it’s centre the Solent hosts Cowes Week every year, one of the biggest sailing events in the world .

The Solent is about two miles wide and is sheltered by the Isle of Wight from the stomy weather of the English Channel. It also has a very complex tidal pattern, which has greatly benefited Southampton as a port because it gets a double high tide – which lasts much longer in Southampton Water, and allows large vessels to more easily arrive and depart.

For holiday makers there are coastal paths, beaches and rock pools to explore along the Isle of Wight’s northern coast, and there is usually plenty to see with the water activities and wildlife.

Yarmouth is a short cycle ride along the River Yar from Freshwater and the Studio Apartment.

7 Jan 2012

Back of the Wight

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‘Back of the Wight’ is the coast of the Island from the Needles to St Catherines Head.
This is the surfing coast – the part that faces down the English Chanel to the Western Approaches and the Atlantic.
I don’t know why it’s known as ‘Back of the Wight’ but I suspect that it was due to it being so inaccessible before the Military Road was built in the late nineteenth century.

Compton Bay - Back of the Wight

This section of the Island’s coast has no harbours, no sheltered bays and lots of shallow water including the infamous Atherfield Ledges which stretch a mile out to sea and still catch the accasional unwary sailor – usually during the Round the Island Race.

But all this aside one of the best things about the Military Road is that it follows the coast and provides some great seascapes in both the summer and the winter.

See westwightholidays.co.uk for information on self catering accommodation in the West Wight.

1 Jan 2012

Eating Out – Garden Restaurant

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The Garden Restaurant at Farringford House is within walking distance of the Studio Apartment – and is worth the walk.

The Farringford is of course, Tennyson’s famous home, set in it’s own grounds and currently undergoing rennovation. The Garden Restaurant isn’t affected by this because it’s located .. err, well, in the gardens . . . .

Isle of Wight restaurant

Garden Restaurant

It’s described on the website – “Contemporary and comfortable surroundings compliment the seasonal modern British menus . . .” and I’d go along with that. Good food, good setting, relaxed and pleasant service, not cheap by local standards but not expensive. Well worth a visit and lots of interesting walks nearby if you want to make it a starting or finishing point for a visit to Tennyson’s Monment which about 20 minutes away, or The Needles which is about an hour’s walk – depending on how fast you walk.

More information is on the Garden Restaurant section of the Farringford website.

11 Jun 2011

“Rain Along the South Coast”

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We often see the weather man on the TV saying ‘”. . . and some prolonged rain showers in the south of England, especially along the coast “, which makes many businesses that rely on tourism very unhappy. Why?

Most Islands have their own micro-climate, different from the any nearby land mass, and the Isle of Wight is no exception. It’s one of the sunniest places in England because a significant amount of the cloud and rain that visits the mainland – just a mile or so across the Solent – never reaches the Island.

This is a regular view from the Island looking north towards Southampton and the New Forest.

Rain Clouds over Hampshire

While we on the Island bask in the sunshine, the New Forest and Hampshire are getting a bucket load of rain.

Of course this also works against us, especially when the Island has had little rain for the past two months while just across the water they have more than they need.

So the next time the weather man says “rain showers along the south coast”, he should  probably add “apart from the Isle of Wight, where it will most likely be sunny and dry throughout the day”.

This picture was taken from Afton Down, a 5 minute walk from the Studio Apartment, across the fields in the foreground.


24 May 2011

Eating Out – 2

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Dandelions Cafe at the Holiday Fellowship Hotel

Recently opened at Freshwater Bay is a café attached to the Holiday Fellowship Hotel with the curious name of ‘Dandelions’.

Dandilions Cafe image

Dandilions Cafe at the Holiday Fellowship Hotel at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

Brand new, with a glorious setting overlooking the Bay it serves morning coffees, light lunches and afternoon teas until 5pm. We like it after a swim in the morning, but it is good any time of the day.

A little known plus is the swimming pool and the joy of sitting on the grass, close to the edge of the Bay with glorious uninterrupted views down the back of the Wight towards St. Catherines Point.

Find out more about Holiday Fellowship Dandilion Cafes

26 Apr 2011

Island is Sunniest Place in Britain!

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Get out your sun cream and shades when you visit the Isle of Wight – it’s just been voted the sunniest place in Britain.

River Yar and Yarmouth

A 'normal' Isle of wight day - River Yar and Yarmouth

A survey carried out by financial giant Halifax revealed that the Island enjoys an average of 37.4 hours of sunshine a week – more than anywhere else in Britain.

We’ve known this a long time. All you need do is walk along Tennyson’s Down on a sunny day and you’ll often see the rain clouds gathering over the Mainland.