An unusual happening: I recently carted off Gary (the builder/husband) to the Isle of Wight by bike – our first child-free time together for nearly 13 years for heavens sakes. The last time Gary and I camped together sans offspring was cycling around New Zealand in 2004. The last time Gary went on a bike before our recent jaunt around the Isle of Wight was… ummm, I don’t think my memory stretches back that far. Let’s just say cycling isn’t his favourite cup of tea in life. But where there’s a bike wheel there’s a way so off we went.

Gary’s only had one night in a tent since 2012 when, against his better judgment, he agreed to cycle with me and Molly and baby Daisy 1000-odd miles from Holland to Denmark. This spring/early summer it didn’t rain for months. Everything was bone dry. The sun shone and shone. Until the morning Gary and I left home to cycle to the station. Result: we arrived for our train to Portsmouth looking as wet as if we had just swum the Channel. Never mind, we had a tent on board. In fact we had Jack’s tent on board. Jack, who’s now 5, loves army camo things so Gary had bought him a £40 ex-French army tent (with sniper panels!) off E-bay. Despite the fact that Gary scarce fitted into this sparse shelter we took it with us to act as our fancy abode for 3 nights.  After a day or two, the rain stopped and even the sun showed its face and, against all odds and Gary’s reticent thigh muscles, we got 101 island miles under our belts. The odd thing, apart from Gary managing to cycle up most of the hills (albeit in quite a vocally huffing-puffing manner), was not having children attached. Everything was so easy. And quiet. And simple. It was all very lovely. Mind you, Gary hasn’t cycled since.

A rarity: lightweight child-free travel. Up high above Alum Bay.

Gary bracing himself against the un-summery high winds and torrential rain. Ryde pier.

Lovely wet car-free cycling beside the murky River Medina.

Poised beside the remains of the last paddle-steamer to cross the Solent. It’s the P S Ryde and carried passengers across the Solent from 1937 to 1969 with an interlude during WW2 where the ship served as a minesweeper and then an anti-aircraft ship, seeing action at both Dunkirk and D-Day. A team of money-raising enthusiasts had hoped the ship could be restored to its former glory, but unfortunately  that’s currently looking unlikely due to the deteriorated state that its in.

Our elaborate French army tented home in the sun…

…and in the rain.

Flowery cycling.

Gary surveying the remains of the secret 1950s rocket test site at the Needles.

The wonder of the Needles. Above Scratchell’s Bay.

Preparing to hurtle off Tennyson Down.

Gary in action with livestock. Near Freshwater Bay.


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