Start of the summer holidays

So here we are, at the start of our 7+ weeks of summer holidays.  So far, we’ve had (lovely) houseguests, blazing sunshine, violent thunderstorms and drizzle.  My children lost one of the Magnatiles under the fridge and my husband and I got it out.

We’ve been to Blackgang Chine, which is an absolutely awesome place EXCEPT for the Crooked House.  Which I hate.  I usually refuse to go in but this time my husband had taken my son onto the Rollercoaster (my daughter is too small) so I went in with her.  Afterwards I had a latte and a walk around the pirate ships to recover.

This is horrific

The season is over

Not Autumn, the summer season in the IoW.  All the main attractions (Robin Hill, Blackgang Chine, Carisbrooke Castle, Osborne House) are now shut until Easter – although Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House will be open at the weekends.

Last week we went to the Electric Woods, which is meant to be for Diwali but really is just an evening put on by Robin Hill to mark half term and the end of the open season.  Electric Woods is still going until 5 November but then that will finish too.

Electric Woods
Electric Woods

Fear of heights

I am (moderately) afraid of heights.  I will never do a skydive, be really happy in a helicopter or not be frightened when at the very top of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Last weekend, my husband and I went for a walk on the cliffs above Chale Bay.  I had thought that this was National Trust property but it is actually owned by Blackgang Chine.  It was a bit high for my taste but very pretty all the same.  Everything looks lovely when it’s sunny.

Cliffs
Cliffs
Seaside!
Seaside!
You can see Thrift in the foreground here
You can see Thrift in the foreground here
There isn't a path down to the bay here any more
There isn’t a path down to the bay here any more

The last day of Blackgang Chine

Today we went to Blackgang Chine for the last day of the season (it opens again at Easter).  To begin with, the park was quite empty but it filled up as we got closer to noon.

The kids loved the maze - I stayed out of it this time
The kids loved the maze – I stayed out of it this time

While I was waiting for my husband and kids to come out of the maze, another family (who were Not Very Nice) had a massive argument nearby.  The father or stepfather said that the teenage daughter had broken his ribs (How? I have no idea) and both the mother and father / stepfather screamed at the daughter for a while.

As always, we went round the dinosaur area.  This is the childrens’ favourite bit and it is really good, even for adults.

My children enjoy climbing on this
Ankylosaurus – my children enjoy climbing on this
Triceratops family!
Triceratops family!

Today, I went round the Crooked House twice – once with my son and once with my daughter.  It is the sort of thing that children seem to like.

Crooked House - it is pretty creepy
Crooked House – it is pretty creepy for grown ups

The children played on the pirate ships, firing the water cannons at each other.  By this point, all the fog around Ventnor had lifted and it was more like June than November.  Seriously, I was in my short-sleeves although others were wearing coats (weren’t they boiling?).

Pirate ships!
Pirate ships!

We went through the Rumpus Mansion (basically a haunted house, it is usually full of terrified toddlers) and the Jurassic Club (an allosaurus threatens to eat you).

The Jurassic Club
The Jurassic Club

Then we headed up to Cowboy Town, which is a wild west themed area.

Cowboy Town!
Cowboy Town!
The cliff does make it look like the wild west. Whoever thought of this was very clever
The cliff does make it look like the wild west. Whoever thought of this was very clever
The children like crawling in the mines
The children like crawling in the mines…
...And going in the shops
…And going in the shops
Wagon and Horses
Wagon and Horses

Going here on a crisp, sunny day has really put me in the mood to watch a Western tonight.  I think it was that it was so quiet, I could hear the themed music so I was in the right frame of mind, rather than wincing at hordes of children brandishing guns and screaming.

After Cowboy Town, the children went to Snakes and Ladders, which technically my daughter is too short to go on but never mind, she appears to cope.

Snakes and Ladders
Snakes and Ladders
This is a good slide
This is a good slide

At the end of our visit, both kids had fun on the climbing frames towards the exit.  My daughter, in particular, liked the black tunnel slides.

Climbing frames
Climbing frames

Leaving, the children said goodbye to the lady at the desk.  We’ve told them that Blackgang Chine will be closed from tomorrow until Easter but I am not convinced they believe us, or have a concept of time.

Blackgang Chine in October and the Piano

Today, we went to Blackgang Chine.  This is awesome for children but sometimes a bit strange for adults – I’ve been told that it hasn’t really changed in the last 20 years.  They have a lot of different areas and lots of fibreglass models and houses for children to play in.  It is SUPER hilly so very good for your step count.

Giant Blackgang Chine smuggler - I assume smuggling was a "thing" here in the past
Giant Blackgang Chine smuggler – I assume smuggling was a “thing” here in the past

It is really crowded in summer but almost deserted out of season (almost certainly the reason they are closed from 2 November until Easter).  It was almost spooky today, we ended up saying hello to everyone else whenever we saw them.  This isn’t that unusual for the IoW though.  We only did the west side of the park today because we usually find that half the park is enough for us.  If you have older children, you may find that you will want to spend the whole day there.

Nurseryland
Nurseryland
The old woman and the shoe
The old woman and the shoe

They do have some little green spots too, in particular the maze.

My kids had fun hiding from us in the maze
My kids had fun hiding from us in the maze
The whale!
The whale!
You can walk through the whale (expect to get wet).
You can walk through the whale (expect to get wet).

Today was an exciting day because it was the first time that my son was tall enough to ride the rollercoaster (you need to be 1.1m tall to ride this and at least 1.0m tall to ride the water slide).  He thought this was “incredible” and ended up riding it twice.

Rollercoaster!
Rollercoaster!

One of the highlights is the dinosaur zone, which has animatronic dinosaurs.  Small children either find these brilliant or are terrified of them Now, the best one is Tyrannosaurus Rex – when he roars, the deck under you shakes.  I am sure his roar was louder last year – perhaps his volume has been turned down a bit.

Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Tyrannosaurus Rex!

At the end of the dinosaur zone, there are some dinosaurs made of fibreglass that you can climb (before the animatronics, all the dinosaurs were made of fibreglass) plus some eggs for the children to hide in.

My son gets stuck on this one EVERY TIME
My son gets stuck on this one EVERY TIME
Eggs for my daughter to hide in
Eggs for my daughter to hide in

In the middle of the park, there are some pirate ships.  If your children are old enough, send them to play on these and get a coffee.  They also sell those little sugared doughnuts that are cellulite in a paper bag but are good when it’s cold and windy.  Your kids will get wet from the water cannons but never mind.  They will be having fun.

Pirate ships
Pirate ships

The food here really is not very nice.  It is slightly better at Cowboy Town (which we didn’t go to today) than the main restaurant – but really? If you can, eat elsewhere.  So we did.

We went somewhere we’d never been to before – The Piano in Freshwater Bay.  My son decided it was “very cool” and it has a lovely area to sit outside when it is sunny (which by lunchtime it was).  I had a sausage sandwich and my husband had the garden mezes; both were nice.  My husband had ordered what he thought was wheat beer but what was actually a mixture of lager and lemon.  I thought this was extremely delicious so I swapped my lager with him.

Delicious for sunny lunchtime drinking.
Delicious for sunny lunchtime drinking.