Southampton, England (Oceana Boulevard)
When I woke up today at 6:00 it was clear and sunny with an expected high of around 70 degrees. We decided to visit Isle of Wight today to take advantage of the excellent weather. This will require taking a ferry to the island after we have a quick bite to eat. Corrine was able to get her coffee along the way as we walked to the nearby ferry dock.
It was easy to purchase a round trip ticket on the ferry to the island. After a short wait we were able to enter the ferry and enjoy the ride. I stayed outside on the bow of the ship while Corrine went inside for breakfast. I was enjoying a conversation with a couple who were familiar with the Southampton harbor and the island. They pointed out interesting features as we approached the island. After a while I went inside to eat breakfast before the ship docked in East Cowes.
After the ship docked we made our way to the nearest bus stop and boarded the next bus to Osborne House, home of Queen Victoria and her family. Victoria stayed there quite often in her later years and died there in 1901. As we entered the estate, we admired the landscaping, particularly the trees that looked quite old but seem to be well-maintained. Eventually we reached the welcome center and purchased tickets for our visit.
We first walked about a kilometer from the house to the Swiss Cottage and Museum that was the “playhouse” for the royal children. It really does look like a Swiss cottage, but very large. There was a lot of information about the nine children of Victoria and Albert, some artifacts, and furniture were on exhibit.
Behind the cottage was a small museum building that holds the collection of objects gathered by the children. What I found interesting was that the collection has remained intact and preserved just as it was in 1915. Many display cases containing everything from stuffed animals to rocks. Nearly 10,000 items that have been labeled and cataloged.
We took a break and I ordered a victoria sponge cake. We sat underneath the trees and enjoyed the surroundings.
After taking a few pictures we walked down to the shoreline where the family enjoyed swimming and picnics by the water. Added recently was one of the “bathing machines” that were used as dressing rooms and wheeled down to the water where Victoria and her daughters would step into the water dressed in their bathing outfits.
From the shore we could see the main house through the trees. This was our next destination. It was a slight uphill walk to the house and along the way we saw more of the estate’s trees and fields of grass. When we arrived at the house we could see the Italian Renaissance design of the building, with towers, terraces and piazzas.
We were ready to enter the house. I hadn’t done much research so looked forward to being surprised as our self-guided tour began. There were guides in most every room who answered our questions. And I had a lot of questions. Corrine patiently waited for me to ask questions of the guides before we moved on to another section of the house.
You could tell the Albert added to the design of the house in a number of different ways, which made the tour more interesting. He tried to incorporate the most modern features that were available as the house was constructed. Large reception rooms, sitting rooms, an immense billiard room, and we also saw one of the kitchens that prepared meals for the family and their guests.
The main dining room’s design was influenced by what you might find in India. So much to look at as you walked around the room.
After we left the main house I was experiencing visual overload. We had seen so much and glad that Corrine agreed to have a tea break and have snack to eat before leaving Osborne House. We had been there for several hours and it was now nearing time when they were closing for the day.
We wanted to see more of the town where the ferry landed. We found a “chain ferry” that crossed the water that separates West Cowes and East Cowes. The ferry was pulled across the water by a large chain buried underwater. We walked around West Cowes for about 30 minutes before taking the ferry back to the the ferry that would take us back to Southampton.
Once we got back to Southampton, we found a nearby restaurant to have a full meal before returning to the flat. Corrine had calzone and I ordered chicken meat pie. No dessert tonight.
Corrine was definitely tired and retired to her bedroom at around 9:00. Somehow I stayed awake for a bit longer, but not much.
Tomorrow we will take the train to Brighton. It will be another day of walking and we will definitely tour the Brighton Pavilion, another royal residence.