The Needles – Isle of Wight

So I just got back from the Isle of Wight yesterday. We stayed three nights as part of a Sun holiday deal. James and I both wanted to revisit the Isle of Wight as we had both spent holidays their as kids. There were lots of familiar sights for both of us, and a place to visit we immediatly agreed on was the Needles in Alum Bay.

It is a great place to visit as it has such variety. For us, we started in the Glass Factory. Veiwing the demonstration was £1 an adult, but with parking you get one adult free. The display is interesting to watch and completely worth it for a pound. That’s like half the cost of a sandwich in most places. You hover around a balcony and watch the glassmaking produce a vase, and he is microphoned up so he can talk you through the techniques he is using. There is enough room for maybe 20 people standing around the barrier and he is right in front of you so you can see clearly what’s going on. We walked in at the beginning of the talk which was lucky, but once he finishes he just sets up another ‘gob’ and starts again.

Of course, exit through the gift shop. It’s hard to resist the pretty objects once you’ve seen behind the curtain. James wanted to buy the actual vase he just made but it has to cool overnight. Instead we bought a magnet and a baubel. I know it is a little early but it had a pretty picture of the island with a light snow shower coming down. We decided on collecting baubels of our travels as this is our second after your disney ornament from Florida last year (but that’s a different post).

The cafe was nothing much to shout about. I realise part of the appeal of the needles park is that it is like a quaint town but the cafe does need to be updated. I kind of looked a bit filthy really. We both had a sausage roll which was a little too gooey for either our likings. And a cake which was over-priced but exactly what you expect.

My favourite update to the park since I visited as a child was the option to buy a photo of yourself riding the chairlift. What ride doesn’t have a photo op. They offered to sell the photo in a coaster so you can put a mug over it, however the photos were oblong and the coaster was square so it didn’t work well at all.

Anyway we bought our tickets for the return journey on the chairlift (there was construction work going on so there was no alternate way up). I don’t like the idea on a chairlift, and with a view like this…

 

can you blame me? The journey one way if only about 4 mintues, which we spent taking photos of the chairlift, of the needles, of ourselves and of the construction work, so there was no time to wonder about falling.

Along the stoney beach at the bottom of the chairlift you have the option of taking a boat out to see the needles closer, but we were more interested in the cliff face and it’s many colours. The stones that make up the beach all the different colours and sizes but all neatly rounded by the ocean. We walked to the end of the beach and back again. James tried to find stones for skimming but all his attempts just plopped in.

I’m sure there are less needles now than when I were a child.

So when we checked the time we found it was only 15 minutes until the next sweet making demonstration so we headed back up on the chairlift. We posed for our photo (James doing his trademark arms up screaming pose) but did not consider buying it.

The queue for the sweet demo was rather long but we got in (again £1 per adult) but we had trouble seeing around heads. (A tip: get there fifteen minutes before it starts). The demonstration is run by one person with an assistant helping. We watched as they made butterscotch sweets, and even though they were behind glass he had a microphone on so we could hear step by step what he was doing. The kids in front (standing on a platform designed for smaller people) looked so suprised as the large blob of sugar and water set to be hard and then softer again as the demonstrator moulded it into blocks and then cyclinders. When the sweets were made they were brought outside for us to try (but with my crowns I didn’t take the risk!).

Again, exit through the gift shop. James was hynotised by the fudge at the counter. Buy 3 get 1 free. So that is what we did. Straight away we ate the chocolate one and it was so heavenly. It was like eating icing. Couldn’t wait to eat the others (although the mint chocolate was disapointing – ‘just felt like eating toothpaste’ as James put it).

A brief look around the shop which sells anything you can imagine with ‘Isle of Wight’ printed on. A wonder around the sideshow games and kids rides. We walked up to the telescopes and had a closer look at the needles. And we were done. The park is great. Wonderful for families of all ages really.

After this we decided on the long walk along the cliff to the battery just in front of the needles – but this requires a new post. Catch up with you next time.

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