“ Popular from Victorian times as a holiday resort, the Isle of Wight is known for its natural beauty and as home to the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, a town that hosts a world famous annual regatta. Colloquially, it is known as "The Island" by its residen „
My father and I spent a happy three days at Norton Grange. The staff on site were friendly and helpful. On our last night there was a fire on site. This meant thet on our final morning it was not possible to provide brakfast. We sympathised with the staff and left. This meant we had to purchase our breakfast. Upon our return hoe I contacted the Central office to request reimbursement. I was offerd a £10 voucher on site. I explained that we had no immediate plans to return to Warners Leisure so would prefer to be reimbursed £10 cash. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that this was not possible. The memory of a pleasant holiday was spoiled by the contemptuous attitude of the central call centre staff.
Ryde Isle of Wight
Living in Ryde on the Isle of Wight I think gives me a perfect inside knowledge to be able to write this review. I have lived here for a good few years now and have enjoyed pretty much every single year.
The Isle of Wight is situated off of the very south of mainland England and a 15-minute ferry crossing from Portsmouth. One of the places you can catch a ferry to is Ryde and it is very easy to be able to hop over from Portsmouth just for the day to the island. Ryde is very popular with holidaymakers, tourists and island residents alike. It has the second biggest shopping town on the Isle of Wight and not only has great shops but has a load of wonderful beaches.
From the beaches you are able to have a wonderful skyline view over Portsmouth and Southsea. The Spinnaker Tower is easy visible on a clear day and does look somewhat enchanting. The white sandy beaches of Ryde are often full over the summer holiday periods and the whole area is very child friendly. There are splash cats available in the summer holiday period and these can be rented for half an hour at a fairly reasonable price.
There are also lots of other summertime attractions that of course are closed during the winter season. There is a pitch and put golf course along the seafront, which offers a 9-hole course, that is rather demanding for the beginners but great for those who have had a swing or two before.
There are a large number of parking spaces available all along the seafront and up by the golf course. This is of course a pay and display parking option but is a fairly cheap price for all day.
There is an enclosed childrens play area with water feature and such like also situated next to the lake along the seafront, this is great for keeping an eye on smaller children. The boating lake next to this area has large swan boats in the summer that you are able to peddle around the lake for a small fee. I also believe that there are canoes available if desired.
Next to the boating lake on the seafront is the Waterfront pool. This is a small swimming pool that has an open top and is really nice in the summer months for those people who perhaps dont like to swim in the sea.
A five-minute walk from the seafront gets you onto the main town centre this compared to mainland town centres in pretty small and there are not too main chain stores. There are a lot of cheap gift shops mixed in with a lot of local area stores. There is of course a vast amount of wonderful pubs and bars. A lot of these pubs sell food along with drink and most are at pretty affordable prices. There is a Wetherspoons pub, which is well known for cheap food and drink that is at a good standard.
The whole of Ryde is currently undergoing a lot of redevelopment at the moment and although there has been a lot of traffic works causing fairly bad delays for the island, this all seems well worth t. The Town itself is nice and tidy with hardly any empty shops and most look very presentable from the high street.
The seafront is also very tidy and perfect for both wheelchairs and pushchairs as it is such a wide-open space that is very flat and has many dropped curbs. There are many ice cream and cold drink sellers along the seafront and in the busy summer period this is needed. They do however seem to inflate their prices slightly during the summer months but this is only to be expected.
The transport links are fairly good as well in Ryde as there is the Train station both at the Esplanade and at the pier head so that access off of Ferries is no problem. The train links to many other smaller towns and villages around the island but is pretty poor compared to most trains as the whole line takes only half an hour to travel along and there are many places that the train doesnt go. There is also the option of catching the bus as the station is slightly along from the seafront and directly outside the train station. The buses are priced reasonably and they are better for getting to anywhere on the island, even if the time tables are pretty limited and if travelling late at night the bus will be impossible.
The taxi rank is alongside the bus station and there are tons of taxi drivers always dying to take you somewhere and charge you an exceptionally high price for the journey you are actually getting. They seem to charge a lot more than taxi drivers I have used on the mainland and I think because of the bad times of trains and buses they are able to get away with it.
Overall though I would say Ryde is a pretty good place with lots to offer for holidaymakers and islanders. It is a great place to come to for a day trip if you only live the other side of the water and in the summer months it is really at its best.
Norton Grange - The Isle of Wight.
When you join a review site and sit there thinking about what you want to write about, you start thinking of experiences, products anything that you enjoy, you really like and want to share this information with people, well that's what it was like for me. My first thoughts were my holidays, I only started having regular breaks around 6yrs ago, never went far before that. So each time we went anywhere it was a new discovery, a new adventure.
So why, Warner's and why The Isle of Wight. Warner breaks were introduced to us by my parents who went on them 4-5 times a year and really enjoyed them. We tried a few of the weekend breaks for ourselves the first one for my husbands 50th birthday nearly 5 years ago now, and wow did I feel like royalty, we went to Littlecote House on that occasion and it felt so posh. Now you have to remember where holidays are concerned I have led a sheltered life. Well after visiting there and going on a few other weekends over the next couple of years, we chose to stay with them to visit the Isle of Wight.
We chose the Isle of Wight because I had been there as a little girl with my parents, again in the 80's the year after the south of England suffered those terrible winds and lost lots of trees etc. when my two girls were only 2 and 4 yrs old (I think). Anyway, it was one of those places that left a lasting impression on me and I always vowed to return one day. My husband had also got pleasurable childhood memories of the place so it was agreed our main week's holiday would be here, just the two of us.
Now don't get me wrong here I love children to pieces they really lighten up your life, but mine are all grown up now and my husband and I wanted some 'us' time together so we chose to stay at an adult only resort.
Right we have made our decision on location now let's phone Warner Breaks to book our week away, I remember looking in the brochure and thinking this is going to cost us a lot of money, around £800 for the week for the two of us. The nice lady asked us what we wanted, so we went for the Ambassador plus room, which is a slightly bigger chalet and comes with a bottle of sherry, small box of chocolates and a small basket of fruit. We chose the bigger room at an extra cost of £6.00 per night because we had previously gone on a very cheap weekend at Corton and the Chalet there was a small twin room (seriously small my hubby's legs hung off the bed and I couldn't roll over being a big lady as the bed was too narrow). After explaining to the lady all our details and the fact that we had been on two weekend breaks with Warner over the last twelve months, with all the discounts for that and the fact it was a 7 night stay it cost us just under £600 for the week including our ferry tickets. Well happy, we paid our deposit and now we waited for the confirmation through the post so we could fill in the ferry sheet and book our ferry to and from The Isle of Wight.
The big day arrived and I am like an excited child and cannot wait to get there, I even enjoyed the long drive down the motorway to Portsmouth to catch the ferry - I think if I remember correctly the ferry takes about 1hr to get into port at Fishbourne, Isle of Wight.
It is not far to our destination and we follow the route in the brochure to find Norton Grange it took us about 15mins from the ferry port. For those of you that don't know, no where is far in the Isle of Wight it is only 26miles across (well that's what my dad told me when I was little).
**** Arrival ****
We were a little early but they booked us in and told us where our room was, giving us the key, they did request to check first with the maid to see if the room was ready, each row of chalets are allocated to a specific maid. So armed with the little map they gave us we made our way to the Chalet (at this stage I got a little nervous after the Corton experience with their room), we got to the room and saw the maid a few rooms down, we asked if our room was ready, it was apart from the fresh towels, she let us in and popped back a little later with the towels. We were very pleasantly surprised it was up nearly up to the same standard as the Hotels, (not as big as the rooms in the Hotels, but big enough). You had a large double bed, dressing table, hair dryer, wardrobes, two chairs and still plenty of space to move around, best of all Roger and I both fit in the bed without worrying about falling out of it or Roger's legs hanging off the end. The room and bathroom were very clean, décor was a little dated but not unpleasant to look at. Well impressed.
Our Holiday begins, after unpacking we go and inspect what is on offer, oh and find our table for the weeks dining. Just down from our chalet was the games room, this had snooker tables, a pool table, darts, skittles, games machines, a small café and the gym. Nearly forgot there is also the beauty parlour and a hair dressing salon here, also a coffee shop. The swimming pool was in the main building.
From the games room we passed the Bowls green and went into the main reception, then through to the main restaurant where the kind staff showed us where we would be sitting for the next week. We even recognised one of the waiters from a previous stay at one of the Hotels, small world.
The main building was not too large, so not much walking to get to each area, the small gift shop for all the things you have forgotten to bring, plus gifts, sweets, newspapers, magazines etc is just a little way to the left of reception. You can walk into the bar that also serves light lunches, during the early evening around 6pm if my memory serves me right they have a pianist playing in here, he was very good. You sit comfortably with a pre dinner drink looking out through the large (Norman style) arched windows out at the Solent. Oh it is so nice and relaxing.
From this bar you can walk into the main entertainment room, the evening usually started with a quiz, bingo and a bit of ballroom dancing. You were then entertained by the resident band, followed by a show put on by the entertainment troupe and finally finishing with the resident band and a bit of disco music.
As this was the Isle of Wight we went out every day visiting the sights and stayed in during the evenings. We would spend some time in the entertainment lounge, but it usually got a bit loud for us, so we would nip outside and relax at the tables provided on the patio still hearing the music in the background and watching the sun go down over the Solent, oh it was a beautiful sight. I can only describe it, because we lost all our pictures when my computer caught a virus and died on us (yes, I know I should have saved them to disk). To us it was so beautiful the sea was calm and a deep blue, which got deeper as the sun set, the trees along the edge darkened with the sun setting and the little sailing boats just bobbing a long and the odd light going on in the larger yachts that sailed by, seriously it was just idyllic. With the music softer now in the background you could just sit there and enjoy the scene unfolding in front of you.
The staff in the hotel excelled themselves, they were extremely helpful if you needed to know anything, they talked us through a day trip that we booked through them to Portsmouth. On one of the evenings during our stay my husband had a little problem when he opened the butter to put on his roll, the butter had melted in the tub and when he took the top off it spilt all down his trousers, leaving a nasty greasy stain. We explained what had happened to the manager and he told us to leave the trousers with him and we would get the trousers back for 0900hrs the next morning. Well, never in a million years did I think he would get the stain out of the trousers, but he proudly informed us that he contacted his mother in France, took her advice and the stain was gone, the trousers were returned to us clean and pressed.
I will say a little about the food at Norton Grange, there was always enough choice, although little plain for my husbands' tastes but it was varied and edible. It was 3 yrs ago we visited Norton Grange and if it has followed the hotels, the restaurant service would have changed last year to a wider variety of food to choose from a buffet bar.
The only thing I did not like about Norton Grange was the noise you got from people coming past your chalet on their way back to their chalets, it felt like they were going to come inside it was that close. You don't get this so much in the Hotels.
*** Out and About ***
We visited a few places during our stay, I would like to tell you about a few of the places we saw.
The Waltzing Waters - this was a beautiful show, it mesmerized you all the way through, the fountains of coloured water danced it way through many tunes from the classics to modern pop - it was amazing to watch. For research I just looked them op on the internet and you can download the video from www.waltzingwaters.com . I have to say we both really enjoyed the afternoon visit to here, we had never seen one of these shows before.
The Needles - We visited here on our week away, had a little walk round the shops and cafes (I did think they were a little over priced), we went for the chair lift ride down to the beach to look at all the rainbow coloured sands - This was very brave of my hubby as he is absolutely petrified of heights, I had to hold on to him down and back up and I'm scared of heights too, but it is a must if you go The Needles as it is a spectacular sight to see. You can buy or own kits here to make your own coloured sand arrangements - great fun for the kids.
The Pearl Centre - This was one of our lazy day visits as it does not take long, imagine a very large Jewellery shop and you get the picture - I have never seen so many different pearls there were fresh water and cultured pearls all on sale. You could even pay for a lucky dip cultured pearl, you pick your oyster and the assistant opens it up, gets whatever size pearl is in there, weighs it and values it for you, you can even get a valuation certificate with it. Sorry I can't remember how much it was, but I remember thinking it was a lot of money. Roger did buy me a lovely pair of pink and white droplet cultured pearl earrings, they came in a little velvet bag with instructions not to spray hair products or perfume on them. They are lovely and you have to bring a souvenir back from your holiday don't you.
Osborne House - We set aside a whole day for the visit here, it is the beautiful home of the late Queen Victoria, it is well worth a visit if you enjoy stately homes and grounds. I think it cost us around £18.00 for the two of us to visit, it is a member of the Heritage Trust and they do offer you a chance to join and you get your money back. You can visit the main house and tour round the gardens - There is also the Summer House which was the children's nursery (this was bigger than some detached houses around today), it was build like a Swiss Lodge, you can work round this as well. We took a pony and trap ride around the grounds (dead romantic if there weren't other people with us). That was nice as I have trouble breathing sometimes and can't walk too far.
There are lots of wonderful places to sea in the Isle of Wight we didn't to them all, this was a relaxing holiday, sometimes trying to fit all the sights in can wear you out. But if anyone is thinking of going there you have Museums galore, from little ones that take less than a hour to visit, to bigger ones that will take you a morning or afternoon, there are beautiful scenic walks available, Carisbrooke Castle to visit, Robin Hood country park - great for the kids with the farm animals and adventure playground. Black Gang Chine - I went here as a child and it was lots of fun, a little scary when you walk next to the cliff, but is has wonderful things to keep the children happy, from memory it had a cowboy town where they can run about an explore, model dinosaurs they can climb all over and much more.
**** Conclusion ****
I would highly recommend a stay here, you have the freedom to go off where you want or stay put and enjoy the facilities they provide, like the Hotels, Norton Grange offer many facilities, daytime\evening activities for all those that want to join in. The couple at the next table to us won the snooker competition (he, he, they were the only two that entered and the wife won, it will take him a long time to live that down with her). Meal times were something like - 0800- 1000 for breakfast and 1830 - 2000hrs for the evening meal - but don't quote me, it was 3yrs ago. To us the whole week was brilliant, sadly due to loosing my photos we only have our memories, but I know that one day we both want to go back. Roger only said this the other night when I told him I would be reviewing it. We went there the last week in July and it was not overcrowded as the tourist season was only just starting.
We would also recommend The Isle of Wight itself, there is so much to do here, that a week (if you want to rest as well), is not long enough to get everything in, there are some beautiful coastal towns like Sandown and others, something for everyone here whatever your age. It is easy to find leaflets and information on places to visit, on the ferry across there are tourist information leaflets available.
**** Contact Warner Breaks ****
Isle of Wight
Warner Breaks booking line - 0870 601 6012
I asked Dooyoo to add a category for Colemans Farm on several occasions but they have not done so - Colemans farm is a terrific place to visit for a day out and although it is not strictly a village or resort I hope you won't mind me placing it here. It was recently my husbands birthday and in true Webb tradition we set off for a day out on the Isle of Wight - in case some of you are unaware - we love the Isle of Wight and as we don't live too far away we frequently go over for the day. Barry, my husband, would have been more than happy to have spent the day sinking beers in the pub but as we had our 9 year old son with us we wanted to visit somewhere that would entertain him during the day before we set off to the pub later in the day. There are so many popular tourist attractions to visit on the Island but as we go over quite frequently and we've done most of them all loads of times before - we were looking for somewhere away from the crowds and queues but at the same time we wanted to have an entertaining day out. We drove off the car ferry and also in true Webb tradition we had our normal debate about where we were going to go, as usual nobody would make a decision, so we flicked through the Island Pocket Guide that we'd picked up on the car ferry and went flicked through the various attractions and places to visit. Finally we came across Colemans Farm, we first visited Colemans Farm last year whilst on holiday on the Island and we'd all very much enjoyed our day there so we decided to go back again. Colemans Farm is situated in Porchfield which is near Newport. It is located in the middle of the countryside so is probably not very accessible if you don't have a car, although there is quite a good bus service on the Island and you may be able to catch a bus to a nearby village and walk to Porchfield. I don't know if this is possible but I'm sure one of the many Tourist Information Ce
ntres on the Island would be able to advise if this is possible or suggest an alternative way to get there if it isn't. **OPENING TIMES** This year the farm is open from 9th March 2002 - 27th October 2002. During term time the farm is open Tuesday - Sunday except on Bank Holidays when it is open on Mondays. During School holidays the farm is open 7 days a week. The farm is open from 10.00am - 5.00pm. **ADMISSION** Admission to the farm is £3.00 for adults, £2.00 for children and £2.00 for concessions. Infants under 2 years old are admitted free. If you are lucky enough to live on the Island you may be interested in the frequent visitor scheme which offers discounted admission. For more information about this scheme you should contact the farm. **WHAT IS AT COLEMANS FARM?** Colemans Farm is a very family friendly farm which allows and encourages children to stroke, feed and cuddle the animals. Animal food is available from reception and costs 30p per bag. Carrots are also available to feed the donkeys and rabbits. As you walk through the reception you enter a small courtyard area with seating which is used as an outdoor cafeteria area. Within the courtyard area there is a purpose built under cover barbecue area. The barbecue is open daily during the lunch time period for Burgers, Bacon Rolls, Hot Dogs etc, (just try not to think of the poor baby piglets as you're stuffing that bacon roll in your mouth). If you're not a barbecue fan or if you are a vegetarian veggie burgers are available as are a wide range of sandwiches, a good selection of home made cakes, snacks, ice creams and sweets available to purchase or if you prefer you can bring a picnic. There are plenty of picnic benches dotted about around the farm and you are not restricted to eating within this area - if you are unfortunate enough to get inclement weather there are lots undercover areas whe
re you can eat or participate in other activities within the barns. To the right of the courtyard there is an area where the rabbits and guinea pigs live. Children and adults are invited to climb into the enclosures and pick up, stroke or feed the animals. There are small chairs within the enclosures so that small children can sit down whilst handling the animals. Also within the courtyard is an aviary which houses lots of colourful budgies. Directly at the end of the courtyard area there is a barn with a rope hanging down for the children can swing from - underneath the rope swing there are lots of bales of straw so if they fall off they won't hurt themselves. Misty, Mac and Fudge the farm donkeys are brothers, they can be found just the other side of the barn. If you wish you can purchase carrots from reception to feed them - beware not to hold the carrots too close to the end though or in their eagerness they may nip your fingers as my son found out to his cost. Almost opposite the donkeys field is another barn - within this barn there is a colouring area with plenty of tables, chairs, pencils and blank pictures to colour in. When we visited in mid August there were three calf's, four goats and a sow with her 10 piglets living in this large barn. Also within this barn is an indoor area with more rabbits and guinea pig enclosures. Back outside there are more pigs and piglets, they have their very own mud bath enclosure with a small metal hut. Despite being a bit smelly I could happily stand watching the piglets for hours, they are so entertaining as they run around chasing each other on the wet, soggy mud but as their little legs aren't very stable they keep slipping and falling over - they don't hurt themselves and they are very funny to watch. The sheep and lambs enclosure is opposite the pigs. The sheep are very friendly and don't waste any time butting each other out
of the way if there is food on offer. When we were there one of the sheep jumped out of its' enclosure as it was so desperate to get at the bag of food I had for them. If you lay the food on your hand and hold your hand out flat to the sheep they eat it very nicely and it doesn't hurt at all. If you visit during the lambing season you may be lucky enough to bottle feed the lambs. Not far from the sheep there are some more goats - they are very sweet natured and are really cute. They have a butter wouldn't melt in my mouth look about them but be warned they are greedy little blighters and if they get the opportunity they will happily grab and devour a whole bag of food and the wrapper within seconds. Maggie and Bonnie are the farms highland cattle, they are very big but they are also very friendly. The farm is home also home to horses and Shetlands - there are two miniature Shetland Ponies called Mary and Bethany and a pony called Sir Tommy Tucker - Sir Tommy Tucker loves to take children for a ride around the farm. Other animals on the farm include chickens, 2 border collies called Shadow and Jessie who love playing football with the visitors and 7 cats. The farm is very child friendly and has several bikes, toys, tractors and other sit and ride toys in various sizes to suit different age groups. The children are welcome to take these around the farm with them or just spend 10 minutes or so playing on them. If you want to sit down to soak up the sun, have a rest and a cup of tea there is a large sandpit with toys in for the children to play with and a large wooden play area, both of which are situated near seating. If it rains there are still plenty of activities available to keep the children amused such as decorating an egg, painting or colouring a picture, cuddling or feeding the animals in the barns, playing table tennis in one of the barns, playing in the straw barn, or playing with a
ny of the many toys available. Parking at the farm is free and there is a reasonable sized car park with overflow parking available. The farm isn't huge but if you spend time looking at all the animals and taking part in the various activities you can quite easily spend a whole day there - even if you don't want to participate in all the activities you should allow at least half a day to enjoy the farm. You can contact Colemans Farm by either telephoning them on 01983 522831, faxing them on 01983 522434 or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Highly recommended for a very entertaining, reasonably priced day out away from crowds. Thanks for reading. Julie