The Isle of Wight (IOW) s one of my favourite places in Great Britain. I love being by the sea and there’s lots of opportunity for that on this island off the south coast of England.
We arrive by ferry from Lymington. After a 40 minute mini cruise during which we meander past the Lymington Yatch Haven with the many sailboat masts gently swaying in the breeze, we cross the strait and reach the Isle of Wight.
We dock at Yarmouth, where we visit the 16th Century Yarmouth Castle, one of King Henry V111’s defensive castles built to protect England from invasions from the Continent (!)
We’ve come to spend a few restful days on the Island and have no expectations other than chilling out in the relaxed atmosphere of a place that seems moored to an earlier, less frenetic era. Part of the chilling out process is to enjoy seafood at The Hut at Colwell Bay and also to explore Isle of Wight history by visiting Queen Victoria’s seaside home at Osborne House in East Cowes.
The Hut at Colwell Bay is our gastronomic beachside destination located right on the edge of the sea. We visit several times! Sitting out on the deck enjoying the view is all part of the pleasure of the place. Lobster, sea bass, crayfish, prawn, hake: it’s all freshly available.
The Hut features rosé wine, which they like to offer in large bottles such as magnums and jeroboams!
If Miraval Rosé Côtés de Provence rings a bell, it may be because it is owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in partnership with the Perrin family. It’s not clear if this ownership structure is still the case. It’s a crisp and dry wine with a good rating among the top 10 rosés from the area. Côtes de Provence is the largest appellation of Provence wine in south-eastern France. 80% of Côtés de Provence wine is rosé and the relevant grapes are Grenache and Cinsaut, standard for the area.
Domaine de Saint Mitre Rosé Côteaux Varois is highly rated as a dry rosé and is a blend of Syrah which gives the wine structure and colour with Grenache and Cinsaut which add the aromatics. This is a classic Provençal blend of grape varieties that work well together. Côteaux Varois is a key Provençal appellation in the far south eastern area of France.
Rosé is now such a cool and crisp characteristic of summer gatherings of families and friends and seems more popular than ever.
To follow up on our interest in local history, one day we drive to East Cowes to explore Island royal history.
Queen Victoria, on the British throne from 1837 to 1901, made Osborne House in East Cowes her seaside home with Prince Albert and their children. Prince Albert died in 1861 and Queen Victoria continued to visit Osborne for the rest of her reign and died there in 1901.
Osborne House was built for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert between 1845 and 1851 by the famous British builder Thomas Cubitt, whose company also built the main façade of Buckingham Palace in 1847. The grand design of the house in the style of an Italian Renaissance Palazzo was the brainchild of Prince Albert.
Visitors can tour the house, walled garden and other parts of the property. I enjoy seeing the private sitting room which the Queen shared with Prince Albert with adjoining desks and from where she wrote her diary and much of her voluminous correspondence. The walled garden also celebrates their relationship with entwined initials part of the garden trellis.
There’s a lot to explore!
We leave the Isle of Wight after a few days feeling refreshed by the sea air and slower pace of life. Perfect for a summer pause.
References: The Hut at Colwell Bay firstname.lastname@example.org
Osborne House, East Cowes, IOW Managed as a tourist venue by English Heritage: english-heritage.org.uk/osborne