A Travellerspoint blog

Day 15 - Last day in Cowes

Listening to the steady rain on the window.

rain 10 °C
View Cotswold Way, England on Laura Walking's travel map.

I spent part of the morning organizing and packing up a bit. My “almost dry” laundry from yesterday was strewn about the room hanging from every possible hook and nail I could see! It still feels damp, but I think it’s mainly just cold… from the dampness in the air. Anyway, it’s all packed away now. It was raining out this morning… and continued until about 1 pm or so. Then it was blue sky and sunshine until about 5 or 5:30… when it clouded over and poured for an hour or two. Now around 9 pm it is a steady rain, and definitely not as much wind as yesterday.

This morning after getting things more or less organized, I wanted to see the Floating Bridge, or chain bridge. This is a small barge-type vessel that goes directly across the Solent, from Cowes to East Cowes, so that the cars don’t have to drive all the way down to Newport (like the bus does), to cross the water. It carries both cars and passengers. The place where you can catch this floating bridge is a few blocks down the street from the Inn where I’m staying. Even though it was raining when I started out, I wanted to do something on my last day here, even if the places I mentioned yesterday were all closed. So I ventured down to the dock area. When I got there, the barge was on the other side, although I could see movement, so I thought cars must be loading onto it. It is an open-air platform type of boat. A fraction of the size of the Red Funnel car ferry that can carry 70 cars and many 18-wheeler-type trucks as well! Anyway, in a few minutes it started coming over to this side. There are big thick chains in and under the water, that it goes back and forth on. It took maybe 10 minutes to reach this side. Not a very wide expanse of water at that point. And then the cars and a few people unloaded on this side. While I was waiting for it to cross, a couple appeared, who I recognized from breakfast at the Inn. We got talking and I asked them what was on the other side that they were going to see. They said Osborne House. I was a bit surprised, and I said I thought it was closed - according to my information. I wondered, did they know something I didn’t know?! They boarded the boat, and we said we’d compare notes later.

I’m an English Heritage member, which allows me entrance to many Castles and Abbeys and museums of various sorts for a reduced admission price, or often free. Osborne House is an English Heritage property and so even before I came to England, in my membership emails which are sent out frequently, I was aware of its closure during this time. Her confidence in the fact that it was indeed open, made me wonder. So a little while later, armed with my bus pass, I boarded the bus once again to Newport to take “the long way around” to get to Osborne House. I was aware of the approximate time of the clearing skies, because I was on a bus! From Newport, back up on the other side of the water, was a new area that I had not seen. Now in sunshine, everything looked so lush and green because it is constantly getting watered! I saw huge fields of cauliflower, both today, and yesterday on the way out to Alum Bay. Cauliflower! Who knew! The woman sitting behind me on the bus yesterday, telling me some history about various things, said that most of this cauliflower goes to the mainland, and is exported elsewhere.

Eventually I saw the stop for Osborne House come up, and got off the bus. I saw the entrance to the grounds and went through the gate. There was a barricade for cars that said “Closed”. But I walked through the pedestrian gate. No sooner had I done that than an alarm went off and a voice spoke! It said something very quickly that I couldn’t quite catch, but basically got the gist of… and I said/ asked aloud if I couldn’t just walk around the grounds. The voice, which I realized at that point was a recording, said the same thing again. I turned around and walked out the gate, and back to the bus stop. So that was that! I was getting chilly by this time, from being out in the rain earlier and now this side of the road was in a cool shady spot. The bus came in a few minutes and continued on up to East Cowes where I then caught the Floating Bridge back to Cowes. This was exactly where I had come to look at this contraption earlier! Fortunately, having done that, I knew my way back to the Inn and had a hot cup of tea when I got to my room. Not a very exciting adventure for my last full day here!

I meant to mention earlier, that when I was in that great bookstore (Waterstones) in Bath, I did in fact buy a book! It’s a small hardcover book called “Nightwalking: Four Journeys into Britain After Dark.” You can imagine my attraction to the title! It’s by John Lewis-Stempel, a writer and farmer. And he is also touted as being: ‘Britain’s finest living nature writer’ by The Times. In any case, it is about walking after dark, through his fields or woods, and all the marvellous sights and sounds and smells one discovers at this surreal and magical time of day - nighttime. I have always felt that way too - that there is something special about the night. (Perhaps that’s why I’m a night person… ) It’s a quiet, magical time when things come alive or move around that would otherwise be still during other times of the day. Anyway, I’ve just started reading it, and am really enjoying it.

Through the sound of the rain gently falling outside - there seems to be a loud base beat, and music, and singing. Very amateur singing, I might add. I think it’s karaoke! It’s only Thursday… but I guess that’s the entertainment going on in town tonight. I don’t think it’s in the pub downstairs, that would be much louder… and the whole building would be vibrating! I think this is down the street! It’s fine. I’m so tired I’ll sleep right through it!

Tomorrow I will be leaving the Isle of Wight, and catching the Red Jet passenger ferry back to Southampton. Then have to figure out a train back to Birmingham. When I came down to Southampton on Monday, it was only from Bath, which is much closer! I will spend the next two nights in a small hotel near the Birmingham Airport, and then fly back to Canada on Sunday.

Posted by Laura Walking 23:05 Archived in England

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