Osborne and the Needles

Thursday brought light rain in the morning with heavier rain expected later. With the forecast looking pretty wet for the rest of our stay on the Isle of Wight, we decided to stick to our original plan for the day and head to Osborne House.

Osborne was built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert over the period 1845-51 and used as a family home until Victoria’s death in 1901. Her son Edward VII then gave it to the nation (he had little use for Osborne House as he had Sandringham, bought for him in 1862 when he was 21).

The rooms the royal family used were kept locked and only visited by family members until Queen Elizabeth II gave permission for them to be opened to the public in 1954. As a result of only having been used by one generation of a family and then locked up for decades, things have remained very much as they were in Queen Victoria’s time.

We decided to do the gardens first before the rain got heavier. Prince Albert, who was of course German, had a Swiss cottage in the grounds at Rosenau as a child, so got a smaller but cuter one for his own children to enjoy:

The building itself wasn’t open yet (we’ve arrived a bit early in the year) but we could wander round outside. Each child had a small patch of garden to tend. I liked the little named wheelbarrows:

Mark liked the fort:

Showing up before the main holiday season does have some benefits. The private beach is 1.2km from the house and the shuttle bus isn’t running yet so the only way to get there is on your own legs. Not good news for the elderly or infirm, but for us it meant that we had the place almost to ourselves:

Queen Victoria’s bathing hut:

Apparently Prince Albert was a great believer in the health benefits of a daily dip in the Solent. Well, that didn’t exactly turn out as he’d hoped, did it? (he died at 42).

We didn’t linger in the terrace garden as the rain was coming down much heavier now….

The interior was quite interesting. Prince Albert apparently took a very active role in the design of the place. Whilst you can identify plenty of features that we would nowadays recognise as early Victorian, the whole thing is somewhat over the top….

Mark was pleased to find a billiard table, but not so impressed by the statues and other gumph littered around the place. “You’d struggle” were his words:

You’d paint over the lot, wouldn’t you? I certainly would.

I took a photo of the bed in which Queen Victoria died, mainly because I felt I was somehow supposed to….. The dreary paintings hanging in this room really would finish anyone off…..

The Durbar Room was a real highlight though, an over-the-top Indian-themed room built in 1890-1891. It’s actually (and unexpectedly) quite attractive, in a Chistmas cake icing kind of way, much better in real life than on the photos…..

Good Friday brought hammering rain, (as is traditional on a UK bank holiday). We decided to declare it a shopping, Scrabble and laundry day….. You know it’s wet out when the camp site is invaded by very happy ducks:

Mark was excessively pleased at winning SOK’s first ever game of Scrabble by two points:

Today we’ve been to see the Needles:

Apparently the needle-like rock that gave the formation the name is the one that’s since collapsed…. Typical….

The parking here isn’t cheap (£8 for vans) but at least you then have the whole day. There’s a collection of traditional British “part fools from their money” opportunities – food places, old-fashioned funfair-type entertainments, shops selling tourist tat etc. We didn’t go into any of those. Instead, we walked up to the old Victorian defences and the concrete remains of a cold war missile-testing site on the headland, then across the downs to a very large memorial to Alfred Lord Tennyson:

We also walked down to Alum Bay (ignoring the chairlift – another failed attempt to part us from our cash), which is known for the many different colours of sand in the cliffs.

We’re back at the camp site now, cooking a hearty beef stew to keep our strength up for more tourism tomorrow…..


    1. OK, OK, I should confess that we haven’t actually bought any chocolate eggs yet this year. We’re holding out for a bargain post-Easter. Yep, we’re THAT tight-fisted 😁


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