Posts Tagged ‘Isle of Wight’

The Lichen Tree

May 13, 2016

There is no such thing of course. Trees may get lichen on them but the lichen is an entirely different plant from the tree. The tree is a host, supporting the lichen in a manner suited to it. Lichen, we always understand likes wholesome, unpolluted air to do well. This suggests that the air at Appuldurcombe on the Isle of Wight is well suited. For that is where this tree is sited.

A high contrast day with sunshine and shadows, made photographing this tree difficult, but here goes.


The tree looks white but really it wasn’t.

That white is all lichen and utterly gorgeous it was too.



The tree was thick with species of this weird group of plants. Perhaps I’m fond of lichen because these plants, found in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours, are rather neglected. I have no expertise and don’t begin to identify lichens. I just like them.

Here are some more.



An Isle of Wight Terrier

May 5, 2016

It had to come! Having been on the Isle of Wight recently and having visited the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, there was bound to be a post featuring my favourite steam locos, the old London, Brighton and South Coast terriers. With a choice of trains, really there was no choice for me. On another day the Mickey (already featured on this blog) would have been fantastic, but on this day the other train in service was terrier hauled and that is just heavenly as far as I am concerned. So let’s go for a ride behind W11.


That’s her, being prepared and clearly she has steam to spare at this time.

And here she is at Smallbrook Junction, running round the train.

image004At the moment Smallbrook Junction – never a station in ‘real’ times – is the limit for the steamers. You can change at this new station onto the electrified Ryde to Shanklin line.

Number W11 backed down onto our train.

image006And granddaughter and son got a quick visit to the footplate.

image008And here’s the loco arriving at Havenstreet with its magnificent Victorian carriages.

image010The coaches have been rescued from all sorts of locations – beach huts mainly, mounted on more modern frames and wheels. Brilliant stuff – really bringing the past to life. The Train Story display at Havenstreet gives an idea of the amount of restoration involved.

image012Yes, these will run again one day.



Micky on the Isle of Wight

April 27, 2016

Back in the late 1940s and into the 1950s a small tank engine was built for use on the railways of Britain. They were effective and useful engines that worked all over the place. Maybe they were deemed common and that earned them the nickname of Micky.

I recall travelling behind a Micky (more than once) on the Horsham to Brighton line. Actually I was a bit horrified by it for it purported to be an LMS engine – not native to my beloved Southern region. But at the time it would have been about a dozen years old and was more reliable and powerful than the Victorian locos it replaced.

In the mid 60s there were plans to send Mickys to the Isle of Wight to replace the even old Victorian locos still in use over there. Sad to say Dr Beeching and his political masters had other ideas and closed down most of what was left of the island’s rail network. The stub of a line that was left was electrified and ancient trains from London’s tube system were taken on to the island to run that line.

But now a Micky is in service on the Isle of Wight steam railway and a fine sight it makes at the head of carriages a good thirty or more years older than it.


And there we have Micky 41298 arriving at Havenstreet. The bit of engine we see in the yard is number 24, Calbourne – the type of loco the Micky might have replaced.

41298 may have been built at Crewe but she only operated on the Southern Region of British Railways. I never saw her in service then. She was based in North Devon – way out of my area.

We met the loco later as she approached Havenstreet again.

image004These days I’m very happy with the loco. She looks the part and she should have gone to the island 50 years ago.

Culver Down

April 24, 2016

I know I’m different from many other folks on holiday. A lot of people want a beach and to be by the sea. I like to get up a hill, away from the crowds and have views, both near and far.

In a moment of escape from grandchildren on a beach, we managed to get up onto Culver Down. This is no problem for you can drive up, park, and escape other people with a short walk. This is on the Isle of Wight, of course.

Some of the area is owned by the National Trust.


There’s enough white rock there to tell us this is chalk downland – something I really love.

It was March but gorse seems to flower all year round.image004

Little violets were also to be found.

image006Culver Battery is a military gun emplacement. It dates from around 1906.

image008The site was closed down in 1956 but the whole area remained out of bounds until 1966. That’s what the notice my wife is reading actually says.


There are good views. Here we look over Bembridge Harbour – a natural area of protected water whuich once reached to Brading and was known as Brading Harbour. A white tower half way up and left of centre is all that remains of an old St Helens church. It is white painted as a navigation aid.

Beyond the fort we see the mainland at Portsmouth and Southsea.

We were not alone on Culver. There was cattle and this beast was trying to get its bearings on the toposcope.


image014More cows and the Yarborough memorial.

The Bembridge windmill could be picked out down below.



A few minutes of fresh air on a hilltop made me ready to face beach and grandchildren once more.



The Island Line

April 19, 2016

These days there are two short lengths of railway operating in the Isle of Wight. One is the steam railway which is wonderful and has featured here before. The other is called the Island Line and links Ryde with Sandown and Shanklin – the main holiday resorts on the island. Actually, that has had a mention on this blog as well, but here we’ll look in more detail, for we recently had day tickets on the line.

We caught a train at Brading. We hadn’t worried too much with a timetable for we knew two trains an hour ran both ways so we reckoned with no fixed plan we’d have a train along fairly quickly.

In fact the first train was Shanklin bound.


People of my age who used to use the London Underground will straightway recognise that this is an old London tube train. Our very helpful guard/ticket man – Craig by name – told me it was 1938 Northern Line stock. There was a year – about 1969 – when I lived in South East London and my girlfriend lived in Hampstead so I was a regular user of this stock which was deemed life expired back then. And it was. I remember standing by a door which opened itself in a tunnel! But more than forty years on a few cars still run on the Island Line.

They look just like a London Underground train should on the inside as well right down to the adverts and route maps.

image004I tried to take a photo of Bil and Sil.


Craig, the friendly guard photo bombed it but of course, I got another, better shot.


image010We arrived at Shanklin. This is, oh so sadly, now the end of the line.

Trains stopped trundling down to that wonderful terminus at Ventnor some 50 years ago.

Odd bits of history have been given along the line.


The station canopy supports feature a monogram – IWR for Isle of Wight Railway – the company that built the line.

image014They are all nicely maintained.

image016A quick peek at the Driver’s cab.

image018We partook of morning coffee on the sea front at Shanklin and returned to catch a train up to Ryde Esplanade.

We ate a beachside picnic lunch and could watch trains trundling out to Ryde Pier Head.

image020With lunch over we joined one of them. This is the station concourse at the Esplanade.


Our train arrived.

image024The connecting ferry departs for Portsmouth.

image026We returned, deciding afternoon tea should be at Sandown. I took a photo of a nice old sign on the railway works at St John’s Road.

image028What is this platform number at Sandown?


Our final hop was back to Brading, with different IWR motifs in the canopy supports.

image032Brading also features a listed building – the old signal box.

image034Great fun. It is only 25 minutes, end to end so there is plenty of time to enjoy seeing the places as well.







A holey pebble

August 17, 2015

No, I certainly don’t mean a holy pebble. Nor do I mean a pebble which is wholly a pebble. I mean one with holes through it.

This little pebble, not much more than a centimetre in size in any direction was picked up in the Isle of Wight last month. I had this idea that if I brought it home it might remind me to find out what created five little holes right through this small beach pebble.

image002You can definitely see through two of the holes but trust me, all five go through. We can also see a kind of double bore appearance.

Let’s flip the pebble over.


Again, we have clear vision through two of the holes.

So what makes them? Well I’m still not 100% sure.

There is a good page about holey stones at  Jessica who writes this blog tells us they are caused by certain bivalve molluscs, polychaete worms and even sponges. But she then concentrates on the bigger holes made by those molluscs which are called piddocks, But these are small holes so maybe they are made by those worms.

By the way, I don’t think these stones are lucky, magical or anything like that. I just have a desire to know what caused the holes.

Can anyone offer sensible suggestions please?


Drift pot

August 5, 2015

The sea has such a wonderfully rounding effect on all sorts of materials. We (my wife and I) rather think it has done a good job on this bit of pot. It is smoothed and curved off so beautifully.

image002 This was clearly the outside of whatever it was.

The inside surface has been glazed.


This suggests some kind of food mixing bowl and judging by the gentle curve it was quite big.

Perhaps it could have been like our Littlethorpe Pottery bread mixing bowl.


Our fragment was picked up on an Isle of Wight beach near Bembridge.

As they say, ‘simple things suit simple minds!’

The wooden walk at Newtown

July 26, 2015

Newtown is one of the seven wonders of the Isle of Wight as sometimes featured on postcards. These wonders are those where the name can be interpreted to be the opposite of what they seem to say. Newtown is neither new nor a town although it was once.

When you’ve had enough of the hurly burly holiday crowds down the east coast of the Isle of Wight, Newtown offers peace, tranquillity and a goodly chance of either solitude or maybe an interesting birder or two.

I’ve featured Newtown before on this blog. Indeed I have featured this photo of the wooden walk.

image001This was ten years ago and to walk out to ‘the hut’ you had to negotiate this. It was rickety and just a tad scary and if, perchance, somebody came the other way then it was a very tight squeeze to pass. Wheelchairs certainly couldn’t cross the wooden walk. So the peace and beauty at the far end was out of bounds for such users.

But after storm damage, the whole wooden walk was replaced. The new structure maybe lacks the rustic charm of the old one. It is solid and feels dependable. It is wide enough and smooth enough for a wheelchair to traverse it. I worried that it might increase the number of people seeking the strange little ‘middle of nowhere’ spot on the Newtown River estuary. That doesn’t seem to have happened, probably because once you leave the small car park there really are no facilities. The car park offers loos and close proximity to the old Town Hall. This is a National Trust property and worth a visit but check opening times. It doesn’t open in winter months and doesn’t ever open every day.

But once you set out on the walk (little more than a kilometre) you are on your own. Anything you think you might need you have to carry with you.

And here’s the present day wooden walk which even has a passing place near that little pond to the left of the walk.


I have seen a wheelchair user cross it. Good for that person.

It’s a great walk for seeing birds. Black headed gulls are common.


There are always egrets about.


There are wading birds of many kinds. Here’s an oyster catcher.


He’s been poking that probing, orange bill in the mud!

No wonder I am regularly drawn to this spot.



Freshwater Bay

July 17, 2015

I seem to have been going to Freshwater Bay for years. It’s very much West Wight and it’s a place where the chalk downs reach the sea to form cliffs, stacks, and, once upon a time, an arch.

image002 That’s a 1969 photo taken on the good old Canon Demi and it shows the arch in place.

And now a similar 2015 view.


Do you know what? I think it is more attractive now and of course in this view we can see round to the sand cliffs near Compton Bay.


Now that’s what I call scenery to drool over.


Isle of Wight Carriages

July 14, 2015

One of the things I like about the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is that you get a history of the carriage you are travelling in. It takes the form of one of the carriage posters that trains used to have (and still do on many of the preserved railways. This was in the compartment I travelled in last month.

image002We’ll zoom in in just a tick, but let’s note first that this is one of three posters along each side of the carriage and we’ll also notice the net luggage rack above. As naughty youngsters we used to love clambering up into them.

That poster, handily, divides into three parts.


That’s quite a history for this carriage with frames that had seen World War One service in France given a 1922 body at the old LB and SCR works at Lancing. The carriage crossed the Solent to the island in 1938 and remained in service until running on the last steam hauled train on the last day of 1966. It has been based at Havenstreet on the heritage line since 1971 so it did 44 years as a ‘proper’ railway carriage and has now served 44 years in preservation.

Next to the carriage history is a Southern Railway safety notice.


This coach was operated by the Southern Railway from 1923 until 1948.

And the third section has information about the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.


I think the Isle of Wight Steam Railway have done a fantastic job. The train I travelled on in June 2015 could have come straight from the 1960s (or earlier). It was hauled by a loco that worked on the island in the 1960s and was composed entirely of carriages used 50 years ago as well. I know that at peak times the line can bring out its set of 4 wheeled coaches rebuilt from a very poor condition. Many of these old island coaches had ended their days as beach huts. I have featured one on this blog with a photo I took in 1969. Click here.

I’d add that the new ‘Train Story’ display, opened since my last visit in 2013, was fantastic. I might feature it at some point so I’ll say no more now.