With the current heatwave that has just happened and school holidays beginning my thoughts turn to our usual August destination - The Isle of Wight.
There is so much going on around this beautiful Island it would be hard to fit it all in, so I thought I would just focus on the bits I know best - West Wight.
Getting the ferry across from Lymington to Yarmouth, you feel like you are really heading away on holiday and arriving in the picturesque seaside town just confirms this.
There are plenty of places to stay in Yarmouth. For a more grown up stay, I would recommend The George www.thegeorge.co.uk. It is a beautiful 17th Century Town house in a fabulous location right in the heart of all the shops and restaurants. It has a wonderful garden, where you can have lunch or drinks, that leads down to the Solent edge. A perfect place to drift through a summer's afternoon. If you chose to stay here, you will be following in some famous footsteps - Charles II stayed here on three separate occasions!
If you want a more active stay and have children with you, I cannot recommend highly enough The West Bay Club www.westbayclub.co.uk. It has activities to suit everyone from tennis, swimming, football for kids, water polo, surf lessons, squash, table tennis, scuba lessons - the list is endless and all very well organised. There is also a gym with fantastic exercise classes including spinning and pilates. However, if you want to just switch off and relax the spa is idyllic or you can have a coffee and snack at the bistro or simply just lie on a sunbed outside. It also is in a good location for exploring the rest of West Wight with Yarmouth a 10 minute walk away and Norton Spit, a sweet little beach even closer.
There are plenty of places for eating and drinking. These are just a few of my favourites and of course it is subjective! I have already mentioned The George who along with the more casual (but still quite upmarket) bistro has Isla's which is a more fine dining experience. They have recently acquired a new head chef who has worked at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons among other places. For fun and a novelty aspect, On the Rocks www.ontherocksyarmouth.com always guarantees a great night out with delicious steaks. You won't be complaining to the chef on this occasion as you actually cook the food yourself on hot volcanic rocks. The children love it and the atmosphere is always buzzy. If you are a sailor and a member of a yacht club anywhere else in the world, the Royal Solent Yacht Club is very welcoming. The views from the bar are wonderful and they do a fabulous traditional Sunday Roast. It is exactly how you imagine a yacht club to be in all the right ways!
A little further afield in Colwell Bay (about a 10 minute car journey or 25 minute walk along the coastal path from Yarmouth) is The Hut. We LOVE this place and spend far too much time here. The owners are charming, the seafood platters impressive and rose flows aplenty! It is right on the beach front, so when the tide is out the kids love to play on the safe, sandy beach while we have a long leisurely lunch or dinner. www.thehutcolwell.co.uk
For activities, a favourite walk of ours is from Freshwater Bay to Tennyson Point. It is up a gently sloping hill but the effort is worth it as the views across the Island and over to the mainland are stunning. The poet, Lord Tennyson lived nearby and used to come here to escape his hordes of fans. You could keep walking until you reach the National Trust property - The Needles Old Battery, a very interesting old fort. However, we tend to make it to the point and turn back. For kids, the fantastic Blackgang Chine is a must. It is a slightly surreal but totally brilliant experience, the new dinosaur attraction is very good too. www.blackgangchine.com
For beaches, Colwell Bay (as mentioned) is very safe with a gently sloping sandy beach. Totland Bay is also a lovely beach. Compton Bay is a bit wilder and good for boogie boarding, surfing or kite surfing, however there are no cafes or facilities here. All the beaches are tidal, so you need to find out when it is low tide to really enjoy your time there. Norton Spit in Yarmouth is a little tiny sandy beach, it never gets very busy and is an ideal place for barbecuing. It is a good one to visit if the tide is high as there is always a little bit of sandy beach.
For shopping in Yarmouth be sure to visit Blue by The Sea. A great little boutique which stocks a wonderful array of labels including - yes you guessed it - Honor Beach! www.bluebythesea.co.uk
I could keep going with my recommendations for this wonderful and magical place, but I would probably need to write a whole guide!
Have a fantastic summer and if you have already purchased something from Honor Beach, I always love receiving your photographs. If not, please order quickly as I will be shutting up shop for a brief break soon.