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A ticket to Ryde?

April 15, 2014

I have always loved trains, so as soon as I found out about the Isle Of Wight steam train experience, it was at the top of my list. My only qualm was what we would do with the doggy disaster that is Banjo, who leaves a charmed life between raiding the bin and slobbering over all and sundry, and survives in my household solely due to the patronage of That Nice Lady Decorator. The answer was there to see, a “Rover” ticket, just the job for a dog. His patron was not best pleased when I asked if there was a one way option for the miserable mutt.

Standing aboard a steam train enjoying wonderful English sunny spring weather, watching quintessentially English countryside go past, with a hint of coal smoke and the additions of some less welcome smuts if you dared to put your head out of the window (I dared) was a wonderful experience. We stepped off the train for a couple of hours, to explore a couple of pubs within walking distance of one of the stations, and it was here that I was able to use the line I had waited for all week. I asked what was our final destination last night? Perhaps it was Ryde? And did I have a ticket? A ticket to Ryde?

steam train

Isle Of Wight steam train experience

Arriving in the town about which Lennon and Mcartney had been so eloquent, we found that all the decent hotels were ready booked and were recommended to stay at the Seaview Hotel in err… nearby Seaview. With the sun still up, and with the realisation that this was likely to be our penultimate opportunity to partake of proper beer for some months, we did just that on a sunny bench outside the Old Fort Cafe and bar (not old Fart Cafe, as was suggested by my dog loving partner), until retiring for a siesta to consider the benefits of opening an account with Currencies Direct.

Google can be such a useful tool. Fancying Thai food, I googled local Thai restaurants and there was one less than 100 yards from the hotel. Dressed and ready to eat we popped into the hotel bar for a pre-dinner sharpener and asked the barmaid if she knew of the restaurant. She did and it moved several months ago. We ate in the Hotel.

The waitress told us that the hotel had been having a make over but that they had tried to retain some of the Victorian features, but from what I could see in the dining room, the had not bothered to tell the architect. Bland is the word that came into my mind. The designer might also have been the chef. Roasted cod, sag bhaji, onion bhaji on a base of a cucumber riata sounded very interesting, but that bland theme came to the fore. How the chef managed to extract every nuance of taste from each ingredient was astonishing.

This morning we leave the Isle Of Wight. There are some lovely places on the island and some not so lovely. There are some decent pubs but a lot of rather indecent ones. Overall, I think I will come again once more as we have failed to see Osbourne House or Carisbrook Castle, both apparently of some historical interest. It will be a day of two ferries. The first to the mainland this morning, then in to the big ferry for the trip from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. It is a 24 hour crossing, and ever since I heard that the weather in the Bay Of Biscay can cause vomit carnage I have been anxiously checking the weather maps, but it seems an anti cyclone is in place and all will be well. They have kennels aboard so one of our party will have a night in the slammer.

Chris France


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