From the Isle of Wight straight to Marquis…

We’ve found the posh bit of the Isle of Wight! Yarmouth, on the North-West coast of the Island, seemed a very nice little place (with a good car park – bonus 😀). Apparently it’s been posh for a very long time. As the deputy governor of the Island, Sir John Oglander, wrote in his diary in 1662 (Freshwater is a nearby village),

“Freshwater for owre cattel, and ye mayne bodie of owre companies, and Yarmouth for ye better sort of people”

The town has tended to punch well above its weight in political terms, sending not one but two representatives to parliament from Elizabethan times until the 1830s. The parliamentary reform of 1832 was well overdue – by that point little Yarmouth had 600 residents and 2 MPs; Birmingham had 150,000 residents and no MPs. Hmmm…

Our main reason for going to Yarmouth was to visit the castle.

Yarmouth Castle was the last of Henry VIII’s string of fortresses to protect the South Coast, begun in 1547. The narrow Western entrance to the Solent was to be guarded by Hurst Castle on the mainland and, on the opposite site, Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight.

The main fear was of a French invasion, so the castle also had to be protected on the landward side. Yarmouth Castle has the oldest surviving example in England of an arrow-head bastion, which is a triangular bastion sticking out from the inland corner of the castle allowing defenders to fire along the moat on two sides.

The castle is crammed into a corner with the town right up against it, so you can’t easily see the arrow-head bastion on the outside of the building. One thing you can see though is the Wightlink ferry, which berths right alongside the castle wall…

Mark very quickly spotted the pork pie in the officers’ quarters:

Interestingly, the castle kitchen was installed on the ground floor of the arrow-head bastion in the late 16th century. For defensive purposes the room still had to house a couple of cannon and a stock of gunpowder. An early risk-assessment of 1623 noted the possibility of sparks from the cannon setting fire to the straw on the kitchen floor, but failed to consider the more worrying possibility of sparks from the fire setting off the gunpowder 🤔

We had an important task on Monday morning – buy chocolate. Mark decided that he would stick to his principles and buy nothing containing palm products – which ruled out all of the available cut-price eggs (a shame – I was really hoping that the Barbie easter egg would turn out to be palm-free 😉). He ended up with two packs of easter monkeys (???), reduced from £1.49 each to 50p.

Then it was off to Appuldurcombe House, once the finest residence on the Isle of Wight and now a ruin.

The building was, like many other former stately homes in Britain, in a terrible state at the end of WW2. Many were demolished but for some reason, the Department of Works took this one on and made it safe (though seemingly with no plans for it other than for it to be available as a ruin for people to look at).

We never did work out why Appuldurcombe House was singled out for this special treatment….. (was it some kind of post-War job creation scheme perhaps?).

Our ferry from the Isle of Wight back to the mainland was booked for lunchtime today. We’ve enjoyed our few days on the Isle of Wight. Yes, it does seem to be three decades or so behind the mainland, but in a good way. Mark was impressed by how patient the drivers are, with plenty of people stopping to let SOK through narrow gaps and no impatient overtaking…..

We should mention that there was a bit of a disaster on Sunday morning when our electric bed decided it only wanted to raise part way, after which point it could only be coaxed higher in tiny increments. It reminded me of the behaviour of our electric gate at home on occassions in the past where it’s somehow lost its settings and needs to be retrained….

To be fair, our electric bed was never set up properly before we received the van (the bed key was missing when the van arrived at the dealership, so it seems to have missed any pre-delivery checks). It worked ok but the spanner light has always been illuminated and it’s never had any preset “top” and “bottom” positions.

All the electric beds in different makes of motorhome do seem to come from the same manufacturer, who don’t include any clues in the user instructions about how to change / reset any settings. Presumably they don’t want us plebs messing with anything…. The super-slow raising of the bed was going to drive us nuts very quickly, though, and there was always the worry that this could be the presage to a complete bed breakdown….

So our first destination on leaving the ferry was Marquis Motorhomes near Southampton (we bought SOK from their Preston branch).

They were actually very good. The service manager came straight out in his suit to have a look, pressed some buttons then decided he’d best “get one of the lads from out the back”. A very friendly technician appeared moments later, told us that his suited colleague had been doing it all wrong (as is normally the way of things), and sorted everything out in no time at all We now have a fully-functioning bed and no spanner light. Hurrah 😀 and even better, he’s given us a copy of his instructions for resetting the bed, so if the problem ever reoccurs we can now easily sort it out ourselves 😀

All’s well that ends well, and all that….. We’ve looked at ferries to France but hadn’t dared book anything as we weren’t sure how long the misbehaving bed might take to fix and what impact that might have on our travel plans. We can get the map and the calendar back out now and get on with planning our next adventures 😎


  1. Good job that Marquis Motorhomes were on hand. Equally fortunate that you didn’t have a malfunctioning Electric Chair! That might have brought tears to your eyes.


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