Saturday, June 04, 2005

Isle of Wight Trip

Today was a trip to the Isle of Wight. Crossing the Solent, which I must have done a thousand times a thousand times, never looses its appeal. The sky and the water never once the same in all that time, the sense of leaving and approaching which, in longer journeys never come together, are all rolled into one. I suppose the concept of ‘home’ is something I feel very strongly. A lot of strange memories rolled up in the Isle of Wight from childhood and adolescence and the forty-five minute crossing (I always take the car ferry even when on foot) gives just enough time for those memories and their associated feelings to begin to unroll, like the waves.

Ventnor is a bizarre place on the South-East side of the Island. It is built almost literally onto the side of the cliff. The roads in, out and through the town feel vertical in places (including of course, Zigzag Road!) It has the feel of somewhere isolated from the world, and this on an Island which, as a whole is often thought of as ‘insular’ in attitude as well as geography. The micro-climate created by the towering, wooded cliffs has made it the perfect place for the Botanical Gardens to grow South African and Australasian plant life and palm trees flourish is otherwise suburban gardens. People here live a different kind of life even to those on the rest of the island. They used to be to Islanders what the Belgians are to the French or the Irish to the English. But in recent years there has been something of a revival. It is a town full of antique and junk shops. In former years this would have been a problem but now, with the revival of interest in all things antique and junky, it’s something of a Mecca. A tiny new marina has tidied up the seafront and the Spyglass Inn on the end of the bay has always been popular. Mum and K and I had lunch there looking out to sea from their ‘boathouse’ dining room.

In the town found a selection of Victorian CDVs and Cabinet Cards, slightly overpriced and so I could only buy those I thought I would have a private customer for. But also a copy of ‘Satyrs Upon the Jesuits’ printed in 1703 and bound in with a series of other sections of poems and other writings by John Oldham. It may even be in the remains of it’s original binding. I am not a specialist in antiquarian books and still don’t know much about the book but I knew it must be worth more than was being asked for it!

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