Coun­try Mouse

Ev­ery­thing’s all Wight

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

UN­LIKE Ran­some’s Walker fam­ily—about to ap­pear in cine­mas in a re­make of Swal­lows and Ama­zons— we did mean to go to sea, or at least across to the Isle of Wight, from Chich­ester Har­bour. It was the first time we’d done it in our RIB, one of the rigid in­flat­able boats that are ubiq­ui­tous as speedy run­abouts along the south coast. Our friends had said ‘just aim for the church steeple and go left a bit’. The spire at Ryde is cer­tainly a dis­tinc­tive land­mark. Two is­land forts, Horse Sands and No Man’s Land, built on Palmer­ston’s or­ders in the 1860s be­cause of a feared in­va­sion by Napoleon III, acted as re­as­sur­ing way­mark­ers. It was a re­lief to open the throt­tle after Chich­ester’s eight-knot speed limit, but even on a balmy sum­mer’s day, the waves and swell pre­vented us from re­ally let­ting rip. It’s one of the busiest wa­ter­ways in the world, so we kept a beady eye out for the enor­mous con­tainer ships lum­ber­ing into Southamp­ton Wa­ter.

Once in the sleepy vil­lage of Seav­iew, we were trans­ported back to a world of 1950s in­no­cence: klinker-built dinghies with colour­ful sails, gritty sausages for a pic­nic on the beach at Pri­ory Bay and a walk via Bem­bridge pass­ing sand­cas­tles, kite-fly­ers and an old Thames sail­ing barge an­chored for lunch.

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