Last weekend, we went down to the Isle of Wight for a long weekend. And you know what? This was the first time, we had been anywhere since our short trip up North, back in September. And it was actually the first time our puppy Frank spent a night away from home.
It has been well over two years since we had last been down to the island. And as some of you might remember, it didn’t quite go to plan for me. My weekend on the Isle of Wight was cut a little short, thanks to getting stuck in Paris for an extra day (something Mr T frequently keeps reminding me of).
Desperate to get away for a bit, my birthday provided the perfect excuse for a little weekend getaway to the Isle of Wight.
Let me be upfront here. If you are hoping for an itinerary for a weekend on the Isle of Wight, you might not get much out of this blog post. Rather than giving a full itinerary, I will just tell you, what we’ve been up to during our weekend on the Isle of Wight. But don’t despair, if you are planning a trip to the Isle of Wight, I’ve got you covered with my Top 10 things to do.
Our weekend on the Isle of Wight: Saturday
We headed down to Portsmouth early Saturday morning. Far too early, to be honest. We originally booked the 10.20 ferry, but received a notification a couple of days before that we had been rebooked to the 11.40 ferry instead. Thanks to one of their three Wight Link ferries being out of service. But unsure what traffic would be like getting past London and down to Portsmouth, we left early anyway and made it to the harbour around 10. Enough time to take Frank for a little walk before boarding the ferry.
We were a little worried how Frank would cope with the long car ride. So far, he hasn’t been too good on car journeys, often throwing up within minutes or whining all the time (the curse of lockdown puppies I guess, they are not used to going anywhere). But luckily, he was really good. He settled down quickly and slept quietly and happily until we arrived in Portsmouth.
After a little walk along the seafront (boardwalk, not actual beach obviously, since dogs weren’t allowed) it was time to board our ferry. Another unknown for Frankie.
The car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne takes around 40 minutes. And dogs are allowed to leave the car and stay in dedicated areas of the ferry with their owners. Something we were rather relieved about. As I was unsure how puppy would react being locked into the car on his own for the entire journey. He was a little unsettled the moment the ferry started its engines. Mainly due to loads of cars starting their alarms from the movement (guess there are still loads of people that don’t know how to lock their car without activating their car alarms). But once he got over that first moment, he was alright and relaxed.
As we were staying with friends rather than a hotel or B&B, we headed straight to their place. Meaning another one of Frank’s firsts during this Isle of Wight weekend: First time for him to enter another dog’s house. So far, Frank has only ever met dogs whilst out for a walk or on one rare occasion in his own garden. We were a little unsure how he would cope (especially as this wouldn’t just be a short visit, but a three-night stay). But happy to say, Frank and Alfie (an 18-month-old Border Collie) were best friends from the start and happily played and ran around for the entire stay.
After a quick run around (dogs) and unpacking of car (us), we headed to the local yacht club for lunch and a catch up with our friends… another thing Frank had never done before. We had been to cafes with him before, but never actually to a restaurant for a sit-down meal. Glad to say, he was an absolute darling. Curled up under the table and not to be seen or heard.
Weekend on the Isle of Wight: Sunday
Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the weekend wasn’t too good. High chances of rain. To be honest, that seems to be a fairly common occurrence whenever we head down to the island (although to be fair, a lot of the times we would have gone late autumn or February, rather than summer). Just in case the weather wasn’t crap all day every day, I did pack a beach bag and swimming stuff. I mean, I didn’t want to pass off the opportunity for our first proper beach visit with Frank.
Sunday morning was a little overcast, but dry, so we decided to head to the seafront regardless. Fortunately, there are quite a few beaches on the Isle of Wight that allow dogs even in summer. Our friends recommended Yaverland Beach, near Sandown. For the best experience of the beach, we timed it to go there for low tide (around midday). Meaning we had a little time beforehand to go into Sandown itself, have a little stroll through town and along the beach there. Around the town centre the beach doesn’t allow dogs over summer. But once you get past the pier, dogs are free to run and roam (and loads of them did). And since the sun was gradually peeking through, we opted for a second breakfast and coffee break at a cute little café along the beach promenade. I mean you can’t beat a coffee with a view.
Come lunch time, all clouds were gone, and we couldn’t wait any longer to get to the beach. Not just wetting our feet, but actually changing into swimming gear and having a proper swim. Including Frank (well, no swimming trunks for him, but having a swim). He was a little cautious with the waves but loved running in and out of the water and along the beach. And building his own little sandcastle (or maybe just the moat and we were supposed to build the castle?).
Once we all had enough of the water, sand, and sun, we eventually headed back to our friends for a BBQ and relaxed evening.
Spending a Weekend on the Isle of Wight: Monday
OK, the weekend was technically over. But our trip not quite, we would be staying a little longer. After all the sunshine on Sunday, it obviously had to happen. The rain was back. Non-stop all day.
First thing this morning was a trip to the Garlic Farm. One of our must-do stops every time we stay on the island (and one of my Top 10 recommendations). In addition to stocking up on condiments and sauces, we also had breakfast in their restaurant. I mean, a rainy day is certainly a lot easier to handle with a full stomach. And our Full English hit just the right notes. Lucky to say, dogs were welcomed in the restaurant (and again, little Frank was good as gold). Just when we headed to the shop, he had to wait outside (needless to say, Frank wasn’t impressed with the idea of waiting outside in the pouring rain).
Trying to find things to do on the Isle of Wight in the rain, we decided to have a little browse through the Cowshed. An antiques shop in an old barn. They had a rather eclectic mix of furniture and various bits and bobs. But although there were quite a few bits I would have fancied, I was well behaved and didn’t buy anything.
Rest of the day we spent in Newport. Browsing through shops and having a coffee at Caffe Isola, the Isle of Wight’s own coffee roastery. Before eventually calling it a day, all drenched. And even Frank, who usually hates getting into the car, was very keen on climbing in (or at least attempting it) as soon as we opened the car door.
Our last day: Tuesday
Our weekend on the Isle of Wight was eventually coming to an end. Our ferry back to Portmouth was booked for mid-morning. Meaning we would have enough time to have breakfast and birthday cake with our friends, before leaving.
Since we had the day off and it was my birthday, rather than going straight back home, we would spend the next couple of hours in Portsmouth. Having a little shopping spree at Gunwharf Quay, a designer outlet centre right next to the harbour. We weren’t sure how this would work with the dog; would he be allowed into shops? Or would we have to take turns shopping and waiting outside with Frank? Much to our surprise, Frank was welcomed into almost all shops. Some even had water bowls outside their doors.
Having lunch was a different matter though. Turns out that none of the restaurants we tried would allow dogs. Dogs were not only forbidden inside, but also on the terrace. After about five attempts of finding a restaurant, we eventually settled for Pret. Not quite what I had in mind for my birthday lunch. But actually, it turned out to be quite enjoyable (it had been quite a while since I last had lunch at a Pret).
Hope I didn’t bore you too much telling you about our weekend on the Isle of Wight? Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But be honest, seeing Frank enjoy his first holiday was very much worth your time, wasn’t it?
Have you been to the Isle of Wight? Do you like it?