Isle of Wight

8 Years of Blogging + A 2011 Coastal Tour of England

Last Saturday marked eight years since I began blogging, so I thought it was probably time for me to emerge from hibernation and do a post again. I wanted to celebrate by doing a throwback post to just before I started blogging in 2013; however, I was so desperate to try to populate my blog with content at the start that I was posting nearly every day and working my way through every museum I had visited even semi-recently. This means I had to go all the way back to 2011 to find a trip that I hadn’t already blogged about, so here we are! Back in April 2011, Marcus and I embarked on a coastal tour of the Isle of Wight and southwest England – I seem to recollect that this was because Will and Kate got married then and everybody got an extra bank holiday, so we decided to spend ours heading to some parts of England I hadn’t yet been to at that point in time. Because it was so long ago and we didn’t take nearly as many photos as we would on a trip now, some of my memories are vague, so I’ve decided to do it more as a pictorial tour with captions rather than my usual lengthy review. Not to worry, as the bad bits are vividly seared into my mind!

We started by driving to Portsmouth to catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight so we’d be able to take our car with us. Based on subsequent experiences with the Isle of Wight, I would say this was definitely the way to do it, as their public transport system is unreliable at best, and downright terrifying at worst (the bus driver on the Osborne House route was a complete maniac).

The first stop of the Isle of Wight was the surprisingly excellent Donald McGill Museum. McGill was an illustrator who created many of the iconic saucy British seaside postcards, which lined the walls of this small museum. I was clearly quite taken with his novelty scales, which showed me to be somewhere between the weight of a sickly old man and a bathing beauty.

Here is me and my terrible hair at the time (reminder to self: this is why you should NOT cut bangs again) at the Garlic Farm, one of the many “must see destinations” on the Isle of Wight (said only semi-sarcastically). This is basically a glorified farm shop selling garlic-related products, and we never even got to try their “world’s best” garlic bread, since it was the take and bake kind and what with being on holiday and all, we didn’t have access to an oven until after it expired. The rhubarb, pear, and garlic ice cream was actually quite alright though.

We stayed in Shanklin, where you can see me doing what is clearly my standard “grimacing whilst holding up food” pose with some seaside treats (Mr. Whippy and a “green” flavoured slushy). This was memorable solely because of how revolting our hotel was. It was a particularly grim traditional British seaside hotel with ancient floral coverings on everything and dubious cleanliness – Marcus had to pull out a clump of some previous guest’s hair clogging up our sink that was so large I still gag thinking about him touching it with his bare hands. It was enough to put me off seaside “resorts” for life, and I genuinely think I have not stayed in another such hotel since this trip, though I have stayed in many awful British non-seaside hotels.

After that charming hotel experience, we headed up to the Donkey Sanctuary, which is THE place to see big donkey dicks (if you’re into that kind of thing) as we found out. I decided to spare you by not including the photo of the giant black erect donkey penises (they were so obscene I was legitimately worried my post would get reported), but it was essentially just us walking around and being annoyed that you couldn’t feed or pet the donkeys, though we admittedly didn’t much want to once we noticed their visible arousal (in retrospect, considering the degrees of tumescence on show, this may have been more for our protection than the donkeys’).

Then there was Alum Bay and the Needles, where I was freshly annoyed by the inability of everyone on the boat except us to follow basic instructions designed to keep them from falling overboard. Oh, and we made a sand bell (which involves filling a glass bell with layers of different coloured sand, though they also had more modern (ugly) designs like teddy bears), which is apparently an Alum Bay tradition dating back to Victorian times. We still have the bell, so that’s something.

We spent the night in Weymouth after this, I think because they had some sort of artisan bakery where we could get breakfast (Marcus knows me well) but I seem to remember it being underwhelming. However, this statue of George III is nothing short of fabulous. I’m not sure what he did for Weymouth to deserve this honour, but it must have been amazing!

I swear this trip gets much less phallic after this, but here is a cock rock from the incredible Museum of Witchcraft in beautiful Boscastle. This place was dark, creepy, old school, and all about witchcraft, so what’s not to love? I very much want to go back here when they reopen and do a proper post about it, because this place deserves one.

After this, we drove out to Penzance to spend a couple of nights there in what was probably the only nice B&B I have ever stayed in (very plush carpets and one of those really high comfy beds). Unfortunately, the niceness of our room was marred somewhat by the literal crappiness of Penzance. We happened to be staying there at the time of the 2011 MasterChef final, which I was very invested in, so we set out that night for an earlyish dinner in town to be sure to be back in time to watch it. Our B&B was a couple of miles from the centre of town, so it was quite a walk. As we were walking down the road in the middle of town, nearly at the pizza place we had decided to dine at, I obviously strayed too near the overhang of a building, and the world’s largest, nastiest plop of bird crap fell on my head. I say bird, but part of me thinks it might have been someone doing a “Gardez l’eau” with a chamberpot, because this shit looked human. I have never seen brown bird crap before, and this most definitely was, but maybe it was just from an unusually large seagull who is a fellow IBS sufferer. The poop was everywhere – in my hair, in the hood of my hoodie, down the side of my face, everywhere. Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I am not unfamiliar with being covered in crap on the streets of a city, but it’s normally my own and in my pants, where it (sort of) belongs. However, there was no shitting way (pun intended) I was walking two bloody miles back to the B&B and then two miles back into town again, so we pressed on, figuring I could at least rinse out my hair in the restaurant sink. Only guess what? This establishment didn’t have a bathroom, and they directed me into the exceptionally disgusting public toilets down the road, which had a sharps bin, but not a proper sink. It was one of those wall mounted dealies with the integrated extremely weak water pressure sink, thin watered-down hand soap, and an ineffectual hand dryer. I couldn’t even stick my damn head in this thing, not that I much wanted to from the looks of it. I did my best, but in the end, I confess that I 100% ate a pizza pie with poop crusted bangs (another reason not to get bangs!) and a smelly jacket with a turd in the hood, had as long of a shower as I could manage without missing MasterChef when we returned to the B&B, and never went into Penzance again (this photo was pre-poop, obviously).

This is the Lizard, and the photo at the start of the post was at Lands End, respectively the most southerly and westerly points of Great Britain (as in, the big island, not all the little ones like the Isle of Wight and the Scilly Isles and junk). We went there the day of the pooping incident I think, and were too cheap to pay for a photo with our specific hometown in, as you can see at the start of the post. We did hang around for a bit hoping some fellow Londoners would show up and we could sneakily grab a picture of the sign once it was changed over, but no dice. They have pasties at the Lizard (because Cornwall) and not much else, but I hate pie pastry, especially in savoury applications, with the exception of empanadas, particularly my homemade seitan empanadas, because the masa does something to the dough that is *chef’s kiss* (fact: the only kind of sweet pies I ever make are cream or ice cream pies with crusts made from ground up biscuits and butter, because Oreo and digestive biscuit/graham cracker crusts are eight million times more delicious than crappy normal pie crust), so the lack of non-pasty food did nothing for me or my mood.

This is the seal sanctuary in Gweek, which we presumably chose to visit because the town was called Gweek (hilarious, obviously), because I don’t even like seals. I find them to be gross amorphous blobs (see exhibit A, above). Given a choice between this and the donkey sanctuary, I’d pick the donkey sanctuary, because donkeys are at least cute, even with huge disturbing erections.

The Eden Project! I remember this being mega expensive, even ten years ago, but we undoubtedly had some sort of 2 for 1 deal or we wouldn’t have gone.

The tropical biome was the hottest place I’ve ever been within Britain, so I was thrilled when I spotted a baobab smoothie stand. Unfortunately, said stand was cash only, so we had to make a very long trek back to the front entrance to obtain some whilst I was dying of thirst the whole time, just to get my hands on a refreshing smoothie. I would hope they would have changed this policy by now. We also made garlic breadsticks in the Mediterranean biome (also cash only) which were undoubtedly the highlights of the whole experience. I’d go back sometime though and blog about it properly.

We spent an awful night at a Travelodge in Torquay where some louts were yelling up and down the hallway all night long and kept rattling the lock on our door, so I was terrified they were going to break in and spent the night creeping on them through the peephole armed with whatever weaponesque thing I could find (god knows what that was in somewhere as bare bones as Travelodge. Even the hair dryers are attached to the wall). I did complain to the front desk the next morning, and they completely ignored me so I later sent a strongly worded email to Travelodge, only it turns out I accidentally sent it to the US chain which is apparently not affiliated with the British one, so that got me nowhere. At any rate, I have not stayed in a Travelodge since, in either country. Cheesy chips were the only good part of the whole Torquay experience. North Devon is lovely, but I am really not a fan of South Devon.

We couldn’t head home without detouring through Dorset to see Cerne Abbas (oh shit, I said there wasn’t anything else phallic on this trip. Totally forgot about this one, but who doesn’t like a chalk giant’s dingdong?!).

Also Buckfast Abbey, though I couldn’t tell you whether this was before or after Cerne Abbas as I’ve forgotten where they are in relation to each other and can’t be bothered to look it up. It was clearly undergoing some sort of restoration, but I seem to remember the shop full of monk-made products being quite good, and we picked up a bottle of the famous Buckfast Tonic Wine for a friend, though I certainly wouldn’t drink it myself. It’s caffeinated fortified wine. Deadly.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour through a small portion of England’s southern coast, since it’ll still be a while before we’ll be allowed to go see it in person (though remembering all those awful hotels has not made me particularly keen to spend a night away from home any time soon anyway). Museums aren’t due to reopen until at least 17th May (I am so not excited to go back to work in person, but I am excited to visit other museums! I’ve already booked tickets for two different exhibitions at the end of May, so fingers crossed they’ll be able to go ahead) so I think blogging will still be patchy around these parts for a while, though maybe I’ll surprise myself and find some other old, almost-forgotten trip to write about. Thanks for sticking around with me for eight years (or however long you’ve been reading)!

Isle of Wight: Osborne House

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At long last, I finally made it to Osborne House, which certainly lived up to my expectations of Victorian splendour, but also provided an unforeseen number of annoyances (though I’m not sure why they should be unforeseen, when most everything generally irritates me).  All you really need to know about this place (to convince you to visit) is that Queen Victoria lived, and more importantly, died here, but obviously I’m going to go into way more detail than that.  Osborne House is near East Cowes, in the north of the Isle of Wight, and is plopped down on a huge plot of land that encompasses gardens, woodlands, and a private beach.  The Italianate house itself is similarly massive, though only a small section is open to the public.

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This is another English Heritage property, and they were quite aggressive with their membership spiel when we entered the gift shop/admissions.  I was tempted to tell them that I  frequent the National Trust far more than English Heritage, so there was no way I was coughing up their membership fee, but I held my tongue, and simply paid the £13.40 admission.  The main attraction is of course the house, but the whole estate served as a summer home for the Royal Family, and was where Victoria retreated to after Albert’s death, so there are a number of outbuildings, some designed primarily for their nine children. We decided to first head to the Swiss Cottage, which Albert built as a place for the children to practice their domestic skills.  I wasn’t kidding about the size of the grounds; the signs claimed it was a kilometre away, but as it took us a good half hour to walk there (and I’m usually a pretty fast walker), I think that was a lie. Never fear, there is a sporadic shuttle bus for the less intrepid. This supposedly “child-sized” cottage was bigger than most actual chalets I’ve seen, with “rustic” furniture that was still incredibly ornate.  Only the upstairs part is open to the public, as half of the lower level has been converted into a tearoom, so we trekked slowly behind a gaggle of elderly people through the handful of rooms.  I don’t wish to disparage the elderly, as I generally prefer old people to young people, but damn, these people moved so slowly that they had caused an unnecessary queue, (this is not a criticism of their walking pace, which I know they can’t help, but of the time they spent gawping at things) and had no qualms whatsoever about completely blocking my view, something which would prove to be a common theme throughout the visit.  I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on the poor dears; some of the older ones probably remembered the latter years of Victoria’s reign, and were simply reminiscing.

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Fortunately, we next progressed to the museum holding the Royal Children’s collections, which was excellent!  Being royalty, the objects they casually collected is the kind of stuff that would take pride of place in any normal museum; instead, it was all crammed together in dusty cases with rather terse captions, each curiosity more fabulous than the last.  There were extensive Egyptian and Native American collections, a taxidermy section that included a five-legged deer, and various rocks and minerals, but my favourite bit was the mishmash of oddities in the case to the right of the entrance.  Here I found a piece of wood from George Washington’s coffin (no dentures though!), a set of hand grenades taken from a lady anarchist who was executed on the street after being found with them, and a little doll made by a prisoner from wax and “partially masticated bread.” Honestly, after seeing this museum, I wouldn’t have minded if everything else was a bit crap.

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Around the Swiss Cottage, there were gardens interspersed with a miniature fortress with cannons, the entire deckhouse from the ship that carried Victoria’s body back to the mainland after her death, and a shed with wheelbarrows and wagons for each of the children.  After viewing all this, we decided to next check out the beach, as it was said to have ice cream for sale, and we were feeling peckish after all the walking (we’d visited Carisbrooke Castle that morning, so we weren’t just being lazy at this point).

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Access to the beach was via the “rhododendron” path, another twenty minute walk through (you guessed it) a rhododendron lined trail.  Not being much of an outdoors person (understatement of the post, as evidenced by my pasty complexion), or having any inclination towards gardening, I wasn’t even that sure what a rhododendron was until taking this trail.  I’m still in the dark about what those terrible bushes are that smell like vomit, but which every rich person in Wimbledon puts in their garden.  Can anyone enlighten me as to what those stink bushes are, and why people seem to love the foully odoriferous things so much?  Anyway, the wooded trail suddenly opened up into a compact little beach, and we emerged blinking into the rare English summer sun.

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It wasn’t really warm enough that day to go wading (though that didn’t stop a few other people from swimming), so we promptly made tracks for the ice cream hut.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they offered knickerbocker glories and sundaes (only one type of sundae, it is still Britain, after all, and we can’t be having all those choices) in old fashioned sundae glasses, but they were big sundaes, and unusually for me, I didn’t feel like I could put that much ice cream away right then, so I went for two scoops, which still turned out to be enormous for the price, at least by London standards, and topped it with the free (!) syrups on offer.  After wolfing that down, I took the time to pose in front of Victoria’s bathing machine which had a suspiciously narrow door for her aged portly frame.  I think only she was modest enough to bother with a bathing machine, as the children learned to swim in a netted safety contraption designed by Albert (I wish I could say the same; I had the fun of almost drowning during lessons at the Y, and still can’t swim properly).

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Fortified by the ice cream, we felt up for another lengthy walk back to the actual house, somehow managing to bypass the Ice House, which was meant to be somewhere on the way to the Swiss Cottage.  I felt like I’ve seen enough ice houses elsewhere that I wasn’t terribly bothered, plus my feet hurt and I wanted to spare myself the backtrack.  However, approaching the house from the rear gave us the opportunity to investigate the well-manicured gardens, which were especially lovely, and all the flowers were in bloom, another bonus!

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Upon entering the house, we were asked to present our tickets, so keep yours handy to avoid having to embarrassingly sort through the entire contents of your bag in front of the admissions lady.  Photography wasn’t allowed inside the house, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination for the next bit (or have a peek at the website).  The state rooms on the ground floor of the house were just as imposing as I’d imagined; the hallways were lined with classical busts and exquisite tiles (I assume they were imported, rather than being made at Jackfield, but you never know), and others were full of paintings, most with a religious or mythological theme. There was a Council Room, wherein Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone for Victoria, a Billiards Room, and a Drawing Room that was a bit too yellow for my tastes.  Downstairs, we got a brief view of the servants’ quarters in the form of a servery and china cabinet/room, with a handwritten list of menus on display.  (Isn’t servery a gross word?  It makes me think of disgusting cafeteria food.)

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We were then directed upstairs to see the family rooms, several of which were filled with a nice exhibit on Victoria’s descendants (the vast majority of European royalty), complete with photographs of everyone, from dissipated old Bertie, to haemophiliac Leopold (and some good portraits of the Royal Family, including one that made Louis IV of Hesse look far more dashing than he did in real life (he was unpleasantly beardy, but here he was shown with his handsome youthful mustache)).  Unfortunately, I couldn’t properly enjoy them because some mother insisted on dragging around her bratty child, who wouldn’t stop snivelling.  I get that children lack self-control, but surely the mother could have had enough sense to take him outside until he calmed down, instead of subjecting us all to his shrieks, whilst remarking to her companion how articulate he was (yeah, it’s great that your small child can remark how he hates everything, but it doesn’t make up for his obnoxiousness!). Even the staff were giving them dirty looks. She wasn’t the only person who got under my skin at Osborne House; also up there was a lady who decided to park her capacious ass in front of the “Horn Room” for literally ten minutes, completely blocking the door with her wide frame so that no one else could hope to see inside.  I thought the agreed upon social convention was to look for a minute or two, and then graciously move aside when it becomes clear that other people are craning their necks to see around you.  Well, this lady clearly didn’t get the message. Ugh, all right, rant over (for now).

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Moaning aside (and I do love to complain), there were plenty more delights to behold inside the house. I adored the statue of Albert as some sort of ancient Greek, clad in a revealing tunic.  Though I seriously doubt (and photographs back me up on this) that he was that muscular in real life, it is a testament to the privacy and degree of comfort Victoria must have felt here that she prominently placed such a sexy statue in full view of the staircase.  Also upstairs were Albert’s private office and bathroom, and most poignantly, Victoria’s bedroom, site of her death.  It was closed off immediately afterwards for some fifty years, and thus preserved as a sort of shrine, so you can still see the actual bed she died in, which includes a secret plaque (intended for her eyes only) in remembrance of Albert, and has a large plaque above the headboard that her children added after her death, in memory of her matriarchal role.  All the paintings in the room were behind the bed, so I hope someone had opened the curtains on the day she died, so she wasn’t just left staring at a blank wall.  I guess it says something for the mood of the place, that it left me feeling quite sympathetic towards Victoria.

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Looking around the house probably took somewhere between an hour to ninety minutes, after which we went to look at the walled garden, followed by a trip back behind the house to see John Brown’s bench, which we missed the first time around.  John Brown as in her trusted Scottish servant, that is, not the notorious American abolitionist.  After a brief swing by the gift shop to pick up some postcards, we headed to the bus stop, subject of another beef (though I stress, this is in no way the fault of Osborne House).  The bus from Osborne House to Ryde (where the hovercraft and some of the ferries come in) runs only once an hour, despite the fact that the house shuts at 5, and the grounds close at 6, so clearly quite a few people are going to be taking the 5:30 bus.  We got there twenty minutes early, which made for a boring wait, (even Kendal Mint Cake wasn’t an adequate distraction, but then I do prefer fudge, but it turned out to be lucky we did as only the first six people in the queue were allowed on the packed bus (we barely squeezed on).  Seriously, most of the other buses I saw on the Isle of Wight were double deckers, so why on earth would they send a normal bus during what is obviously a peak time? There was a long queue of people behind us, who presumably had to stand there for another hour, or try to get a cab.  The situation was pretty ridiculous, and I don’t understand why they can’t at least run a bus every half an hour, especially towards the end of the day.

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Well, I clearly had some issues on the day of the visit, but none of them were really the fault of Osborne House (other than the pushy men at the door trying to sell memberships, but you get that at every English Heritage and National Trust property), so I won’t let it detract from my score, which is 4.5/5.  The house and grounds were gorgeous, and whilst I wish more of the house was open to the public, I realise the upkeep must be an enormous undertaking, so I can understand why it’s not. But I can see why Victoria and Albert loved it so.  A grand outing, and surely a must-see for lovers of Victorian architecture, and of the royal couple themselves – just be aware that the other visitors might cause extreme annoyance (though blogging seems to be a good way to vent those frustrations!).

Isle of Wight: Carisbrooke Castle

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So, I honestly wasn’t all that keen on visiting Carisbrooke CastleCharles I has never been that high on my list (he’s never been that high on anyone’s list, which was clearly part of the problem), and to add to that, Carisbrooke is a good mile and a half from Newport, which, to avoid the expensive and erratic local buses, necessitated a long trudge up a very steep hill. However, it seemed silly to take the hovercraft over to the Isle of Wight solely to see Osborne House, and as I’d been to the Needles, the donkey sanctuary, and the Garlic Farm on a previous trip, I was fast running out of island attractions.  Therefore, Carisbrooke Castle it was.

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Carisbrooke is an English Heritage property, which means they will try to persuade you to buy a membership, (even going so far as to only post the membership prices outside the door, to confuse foreign tourists) but if you stand firm, admission to Carisbrooke alone is £7.70.  The castle is most famous for being the place where Charles I was imprisoned prior to his execution, but the oldest bits of the castle date back to 1100, with various renovations throughout the centuries – the last being by Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter, the other most famous resident.  The castle is also fairly renowned for its donkeys, of which more later.

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There’s a fair number of things to see around the castle, but we began with the museum, which was laid out in a handful of rooms over three floors.  I really disliked the signage in this museum; everything was in an irritatingly large font, giving the impression that the displays were intended solely for children, which I don’t think was the case, but it nonetheless infantilised the exhibits in an unpleasant way.  Captions aside, there wasn’t much point attempting to look around the ground floor, as it was packed full of children using the miniature trebuchet; clearly their parents were desperate to distract them after the donkey water wheel demonstration was postponed (I almost typed “donkey show” but I’d better not even go there).

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The top floor did contain some cool things, like the freaky doll pictured above, (her legs were in, er, pap smear position, whilst her torso was rotated the other way; no explanation for this was provided) and a player piano dating back to the 17th century that still worked! The main exhibit was on John Milne, (no relation to A.A.) geologist and pioneering seismologist, which my boyfriend was pretty excited about, but I found it kind of boring, and only perked up when I saw his paper on the Great Auk (anyone pick up on the Laura Ingalls Wilder connection?).

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There were some good Charles I artefacts in one of the attic rooms (yeah, he stinks compared to his son, but I’ll take regicide-related objects over geology any day), including the lace cap and cravat he was said to have worn on the day of his execution, and a lock of his hair, as well as some Roundhead armour and other Civil War memorabilia.

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The first floor contained Charles’s bedroom, but it has been so altered over the years, from having all the furniture replaced, to adding a useless minstrels gallery (and that’s not me being snarky, it actually was useless, as there were no stairs to access it!), that it bore little resemblance to the room he would have known.  Even the windows, which he mounted an escape attempt from, were changed, so I couldn’t even tell if he reasonably got stuck, or if he simply wasn’t trying hard enough (the current windows are much bigger than the originals would have been, so I couldn’t go by that).

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There was, at least, a rather good portrait of Charles II as a child, which wasn’t really compensation for the renovated windows, but it was something.  It’s worth noting that Charles I’s daughter Elizabeth was also imprisoned briefly here after his death, until she contracted pneumonia and died.

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Stepping out of the museum, we headed over to the chapel, which serves as both a Charles I and WWI memorial, and contains the cracking bust of Charles pictured at the top of this post.  Though the whole “remember” thing just made me think of the Guy Fawkes rhyme, which was another monarchical crisis entirely, it was a lovely quiet chapel, with a nice echoey floor.

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In an antechamber off the chapel, there was a video room showing the history of Carisbrooke Castle as told by a cartoon donkey that appeared to simultaneously rip off Shrek and Wallace and Gromit.  The actual donkeys are kept in a stable at the other side of the complex, from which they emerge several times a day to walk around the treadwheel to power the well, mainly for the delight of tourists.  They’re all given “J” names, but alas, there was no Jessica donkey; however, there was a Jill and a Jim Bob, which reminded me a bit too much of the Duggars (yes, I used to get sucked into watching that show when I was back home, because American TV is uniformly awful, with the exception of reruns of Seinfeld).  Cute donkeys though.

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Let’s see, the other main attractions involved walking up a crapload of uneven stairs to the top of the castle walls and the well, (which proved to be gratifyingly deep when I dropped a penny down it), or heading down to the Bowling Green, where Charles may have been allowed to exercise.  The top of the castle offers views of most of the Isle of Wight, and a garderobe, sans functional hole.  The Bowling Green was basically just a field, with cannons perched around the edges, and some hills that looked perfect for rolling down, but I didn’t want to ruin my dress, so I’ll never know.

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I shouldn’t neglect Beatrice’s garden, which was an Edwardian walled garden full of bees, and some butterflies, much to my dismay (damn stupid phobia).  The final part of the castle worth noting was the keep, which now contains a few replica weapons, like a crank-operated crossbow (you can turn it to your heart’s content, but obviously nothing is going to happen) and a cannon that “fires” when you touch the fuse to it (loud noise +flash of light).

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Ultimately, I think Carisbrooke Castle was middling at best.  At the end of the day, it was just a castle, and not substantially different from others I’ve seen; Charles I being kept prisoner was clearly the most exciting thing that’s ever happened here.  3/5; worth seeing if you’re interested in the Stuarts, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  And be sensible; drive or take a bus, because the walk is not especially pleasant.  They do sell chocolate “rat droppings” in the gift shop though, which I guess counts for something!

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