Towards the end of May, as some of you will know, I was on the Isle of Wight. We visited Quarr Abbey, a still practising monastery.
The original monastery was founded in the 12th century, but little of it now remains. Actually, the main reason for visiting was that they do a great afternoon tea. Here's an abandoned building within the old abbey confines.
We also visited Osborne House. This was Queen Victoria's favourite place and she had the house built for her and Prince Albert as a seaside residence. Frankly, even ignoring the over-decoration and pseudo-gothic of the Victorians (of whom Queen Victoria was obviously one), it is a pretty odd looking place.
I mean, great spot and lovely gardens, but those towers?! What were they thinking? I think Albert designed those in fact. And the inside was full of the typical exuberance, mixed with plain functional, of the time. We weren't allowed to take photographs, so I could only sneak this one pic of a light fitting to give you a flavour.
Still, the gardens and grounds were splendid. It was just a little early for the bluebells, although some had begun to flower.
And of course the grounds stretched down to the sea. This is the Royal Beach with Portsmouth clearly visible in the background. The vehicle on the left is The Queen's bathing machine - as you may know, ladies went into the sea in those days in a sort of hut on wheels and then slipped into the water from the rear, out of sight of spectators, since they would be almost naked (apart from three dresses and five petticoats and who knows what underneath).
We also visited Carisbrooke Castle. The castle dates from 1100 and is remarkably well preserved. It is famous as one of the prisons holding Charles I after his defeat in the Civil War. In fact he was eventually moved from Carisbrooke (and eventually executed for treason), since his jailers had failed to prevent him negotiating with forces (notably the Scots) outside the castle and indeed almost escaping. This is part of the interior of the castle; Charles' quarters are to the left and the window he nearly escaped from is on the right of them.
The castle commands a fabulous view of the island. This is the view south, showing some of the wonderful Wight countryside.
And here's another view. This is Freshwater Bay in the bottom left-hand corner of the Island.
One thing I didn't know was that there are no grey squirrels on the Island. So I was delighted to see red squirrels running around freely on the lawn of the guest house. This is Nutkin.