Last week I was blessed in that I was able to close my business for a week, pack a case, stick my little old Mum in the car and head over to the Isle of Wight for a week. She's been isolating pretty much for the past year and I only travel from home to work and back again (like most people around the world during these crazy times) so when the opportunity arose to stare at 4 new walls instead of our own, I took it and ran with it.
I had originally had a trip booked there at another property; I booked it before the very first lock down in 2020 (because of the nature of my business in that I can take bookings up to 2 years in advance, I have to work out holidays in advance too). At one point I thought I was going to have to cancel, however, when Boris announced he was opening up self catering properties again on the 12th April my little heart sang, for I'd book our place from the 17th for 7 nights. What I hadn't expected was for the property I'd already booked to then cancel on me the day after he announced things were opening back up. I'd like to say this was down to an unforeseen issue, however, the very next day they had the property back on the holiday sites at 3 times - that's THREE times, the amount I had paid; I think they saw an opportunity and took it. The worst part was the company I'd booked it through tried to charge me a fee for it being cancelled - they didn't get a penny out of me and I got them (in the end) to return my original booking fee too. I would have named-and-shamed them, however, I checked the day I travelled over to see if they'd been able to rent it out and it was still vacant. Maybe karma does exist. Anyway, I then had to find somewhere to stay and knew I'd be up against it as a lot of people were then also looking for holiday properties, wanting to get away from it all. As I had a ferry booking from the original trip (which wasn't the cheapest I could have got) I didn't want to lose money so my main option was to look for somewhere on the Island. I'm quite fussy when looking; I don't like properties that are just a house in the middle of a housing estate. I prefer a detached property and I like to have a private garden (where possible) or at least an outdoor space I can hide away in if I have to share it with others. Because of booking so late I knew I'd probably have to take whatever was on offer, and for the most part all I could find were properties way out of my price range, or a mid terrace house on a main road. Then, on the very last page there was this property - an old forge - that whilst not perfect (it has the owners property directly opposite across a small forecourt) was perfectly suitable to give us a base to explore from. It was also a really good price, so I booked it there-and-then. I am so very glad that I did.
It's not the biggest place, although having said that the rooms are of a really decent size but it offered all we needed. Whilst the owners are just across the forecourt they kept to themselves, yet when we did run into each other were super friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them ( I say them, however, we only saw the gentleman all week, but if the lady who runs it with him is half as lovely as he was then she will have been a super person too). The back of the property though had a lovely private, fenced in courtyard area, and beyond that were 5 acres of grounds that we were free to explore as we wished (and explore I did). I went to bed each night amazed at how dark it was - there is no light pollution there - and awoke each morning to the sound of multiple birds singing (the blackbird on the wall outside at 5am for 2 consecutive mornings was a little bit of a downer but it's such a comfortable place to be I soon nodded back off to sleep again. The lack of light makes it a perfect place for those of you who might want to take some night sky photographs. The amount of birds and red squirrels flitting about make it a great place for those of you who like to take pics of birds/wildlife. Everyday there were Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed tits; Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Jays, Jack Daws, Pigeons (there are always pigeons as well as Crows) Wrens, Blackbird, Ducks, Sparrows, Dunnocks and on occasion the odd Heron. Overhead Buzzards, Kestrals, Harriers and Red Kites were seen regularly.
Not a lot was open on the Island - including shops - and it appears that the recent events of the past year have affected a lot of businesses, so if you can get over there this year, do try to and give the remaining shops a little hope, but in a way being closed made it easier for us, as the whole point of getting away was to relax and unwind; had everything been open we'd have up at the crack of dawn and swanning here, there and everywhere each day. Instead we sat among nature (me up the top of the grounds, my Mum closer to the property) and read, watched the wildlife and allowed the world to just pass us by. I truly believe even the most stressed of people would be able to unwind and relax at the forge.