We’d hand it late to book a seaside staycation this summer – too late, in details. Every cottage and campsite in England seemed fully booked. At one peak, I’m sure I heard Siri snigger when we submitted our preferred engagements. Fortunately, our 10-year-old daughter refused to accept defeat. “I will chance us a holiday,” Cara vowed.
She even devoted her hallowed daily iPad time to the quest.
More incredibly still, she wipe out lucky.
She found not only a last-minute cancellation but one just five two secs from where she would have stayed on this year’s middle school trip, had a global pandemic not scuppered it.
Cara 1, coronavirus 0.
So a representation was hatched: we’d give her the week of fun she had missed out on.
Sadly we couldn’t quite catch sight of room in the car for her 29 lively classmates.
The Isle of Wight’s impressive scar face
Shanklin beach on the Isle of Wight
Her big brother, Connor, 11, had done the instil trip for real last year and was only too pleased to help pick the must-dos.
Initial up was the crossing on the WightLink ferry, standing on deck as we sailed towards Fishbourne.
Our residence for the week was further down the coast at Shanklin, with its long sandy strand and charming Old Village of thatched pubs and cosy tea rooms.
Cara’s providential find was a luxury three-bedroomed lodge in Parkdean’s Lower Hyde recess park.
With two pools, an arcade, a restaurant and daily entertainment – all run within new covid-safe guidelines – there was wealth to keep us occupied without even leaving the site.
Shanklin’s pictureque Old Village
But in between the bingo and two-penny machines, we had sights to see.
One of the advantages of the Isle of Wight is that it has an abundance of days out for all ages, and all well within an hour’s goad.
There are also the excellent Southern Vectis buses, which provide scenic open air tours across the island – a must for top-deck galvanize seekers who enjoy dodging overhanging tree branches.
Our first bar, Carisbrooke Castle, was the perfect place to get our bearings.
This towering fortress latests back to the 12th century, and as my husband and I walked around the ancient battlements playing we were Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen we could see for miles in all directions.
The Isle of Wight’s 12th-century Carisbrooke Stronghold
Perhaps Carisbrooke’s most famous district was Charles I, who was imprisoned here before his execution.
We learned one escape deed was thwarted by getting his head stuck in the bars, and another after being snitched on by ostensible pals – all deeply relatable issues to our children.
There was history of a particular type to discover at Blackgang Chine, the UK’s oldest theme park.
Some say it’s so old that the in days of old unknown species of dinosaur recently unearthed on the island may have liked a candy floss or two at its grand opening.
I’m only joking. The park in fact first opened in 1843, and it celebrated its 175th anniversary with a comical animatronic attraction called Dodo Valley.
Connor and Cara delight ined pushing buttons to get the creaky old birds to spring back to life and raucously squall “dodo! dodo!” to a backdrop of classic disco tunes.
Comparisons to kicking-out span at Mummy’s Book Club may have been made by certain colleagues of our party.
Blackgang Chine theme park
Obviously Blackgang Chine isn’t Disneyland but it’s all the better for it.
Yes, there are a team a few of thrill rides, including the Cliffhanger roller coaster which notes like it’s flinging its riders perilously towards the sea.
However, much of the fun turn up from firing up the imagination, with such timeless pleasures as a auditorium of mirrors, dinosaur safari and pirate ships armed with wastefully cannons for soaking any parent daring to suggest it’s home time.
It’s gush worth getting a joint ticket to Blackgang’s sister park, Robin Hill, which covers unlimited seven-day return admission to both.
The latter has woodland shadows festooned with fairylights, netted walkways strung high in the treetops for red squirrel catch sight of, and a magical Japanese water garden.
Just be prepared for your time off to go rapidly downhill here – there’s a huge toboggan run carved out of the hillside.
The Deformed House at Blackgang Chine
No trip to the Isle of Wight would be complete without observing its most famous landmark, The Needles.
Sensibly, someone decided to unwrapped an amusement park right next door, so it was easy to persuade our kids that three stacks of chalk butt in out of the sea were a must-see on the final day of anyone’s holiday.
It helped too that there was a spectacular chairlift to convey them down to the beach for a better look.
Afterwards, we stopped off at Tapnell Till the soil contract Park, which boasts a new aqua park, adorable animals, zip wires, go-karts, crackers golf and the best burgers on the island at its sister restaurant, The Cow.
We relished every bit of it.
There was disinterested time to squeeze in a sunset stroll among the palms of Ventnor Botanical Gardens, a astonishing oasis of tranquility.
It was like holidaying in the tropics, minus the 14-day quarantine.
Then it was shy away from to Lower Hyde for one last game of bingo where I’m pleased to divulge Cara’s luck rubbed off me.
Okay, so the novelty car air freshener was technically a consolation cherish.
But as I said to Cara as I unleashed it for the drive home, “A win is a win.”
A week in a Signature Grove caught at Parkdean Lower Hyde starts from £429. WightLink ferry irritating costs from £49.50 return for a car. For tourist information see visitisleofwight.co.uk. Due to Covid-19, attractions are run at reduced admission numbers and some require advance booking, so stay ahead.