Fantastic food, (fairly!) good weather, beautiful coastal walks and games on the beach. After returning from spending the bank holiday weekend with four friends in the Isle of Wight, this Life Recipe uncovers how you can enjoy a long weekend break at the British seaside for £81.
Ingredients (serves 5 – all prices per person)
1 x return ferry, Southampton – East Cowes (£30.40)
1 x Airbnb apartment in Shanklin for two nights (£17.60)
1 x food shop – BBQ, breakfast, snacks and drinks (£16)
1 x meal out (£12)
1 x crazy golf (£3)
1 x dodgems (£2)
I love a holiday. The beaches, the sea, the food, the walks, the history and the adventures and memories you make with your friends, partner or on your own… But who would have thought you could experience all of these in England over a long weekend break for less than £100? Well that’s exactly what I did with four of my friends last week.
I have many fond memories of the Isle of Wight. It’s where I spent many holidays with my family as I was growing up, but for some reason I hadn’t thought about returning with friends since moving to London.
After a friend of mine told me about her recent Isle of Wight walking holiday that she loved, I was inspired to book in my own trip and return back to the UK’s largest island. So I put out a message to my friends to see who was interested and the next day I booked ferry tickets for the five of us about a month before our trip (it would have been even cheaper if we booked earlier or chose one of the early morning sailings – no thanks!).
The weekend came around quickly. We arrived in the Isle of Wight on the Saturday morning with the whole journey taking less than 3 hours. On our way to Shanklin we stopped off to at the large Morrisons to pick up enough BBQ, drinks and other food supplies for the next three days (including plenty of eggs, avocado and bread for breakfast and cider, gin and tonics for the evenings!).
Having our own flat right by the beach was ideal. It meant we could easily make the choice to pop out for a walk or to the local pub or sit on our balcony and enjoy the view. We all couldn’t wait to get out on the beach on our first afternoon though. Exploring the coast along from Shanklin to Luccombe, we came across some spectacular views of the south of the island, caves we could crawl into and glistening rock pools.
The sun finally came out (and it did several times over the weekend even though it consistently rained in London – apparently the Isle of Wight, or maybe just Shanklin, has its own micro-climate!), so we took the opportunity to play a game of rounders on the beach before running into the extremely cold sea. I couldn’t believe we had one of the island’s best-known stretches of golden sand nearly to ourselves.
In the evening (after a few gin and tonics on our balcony) we made our way along the promenade to Shanklin’s most famous pub, The Steamer Inn. Luckily we turned up just before 9pm, as I’m not sure we could have got a table for five of us before then as it’s so popular and they stop serving food at 9.30pm. As expected, we really got the most for our money – excellent food, large portions and cheap drinks (especially compared to London prices), all accompanied by a talented local folk band playing in the corner of the restaurant. What more could you want?
Day two (the Sunday) was definitely my favourite day. After a slow and relaxing morning, and an excellent homemade breakfast of avocado, tomato and eggs on toast, we decided to walk along the top of the cliff to Sandown. This is a beautiful stroll with panoramic views of the coast – you can even see France on a clear day. An hour and a half later, we arrived in Sandown just before it started to rain. This didn’t matter as we spent the next two hours reliving our childhood on Sandown Pier, half of which is inside. This included playing a ‘lost world’ themed game of crazy golf, posing for pictures in the rather cheeky beach photo boards and driving bumper cars into each other as fast as we could at the end of the pier.
Before walking back we remembered that there were several picturesque pubs along the cliff – so we decided that we’d stop off at a few on the way back to start our evening off. This broke up the journey nicely and meant we could enjoy some of the breath-taking views with a cold drink in our hands.
We then finished off the evening with a BBQ back at our flat, until it started to rain at around 11pm. After playing a few fairly competitive rounds of the Monopoly Deal card game inside, we saw the whole sky light up as a storm came in from France. I think this was the girls’ favourite bit of entertainment over the weekend as they sat with their faces pressed against the window of the balcony doors, mesmerised by the thunder and lightening.
Now all good things come to an end (apparently..). We packed up our bags and made our way over to Ventor for one last ice cream and coastal walk before heading to the ferry. I picked up a 1/2kg pot of crabmeat at the local fishmonger – and put it in my freezer when I got home. This will come in handy in a few weeks (for a delicious crab on toast snack and a chilli, garlic, lemon and crab spaghetti recipe I have) when I’m daydreaming about my wonderful weekend in the Isle of Wight.