Moments with Strangers

Black headed gulls on Gurnard seafront

We caught the early light down on the seafront, whizzing down on our bikes, surprised by the bite in the wind, and feeling bad for the Rusts, who were cycling east in the headwind to visit us for Mother’s Day brunch.

Brunch supplies in hand, we walked back home up the steps in Northwood Park and bumped in to a delightful woman; a bundle of wispy grey hair amidst layers of multicoloured wool, shepherding an old springer spaniel in her shadow. She quite decidedly stopped us for a chat and we were swept along in her talk of finding missing gloves, temperamental animals, and local walking routes.

I love the little connections with unknown neighbours that stretch just a little beyond ‘how’s the weather’. These early spring days are filled with a million things, but a five minute stop on a chilly path reminded me to just slow down for a moment.

Seaside Bloggers: Chasing Wight

Sea marker with text "nothing feels better than the sea air rushing past"

Today’s post comes from a little closer to home. Right at home in fact, as Tom is now blogging away on his own little corner of the internet. I’m so in love with our little seaside town, I’m happy to have the excuse to share it from another perspective.

1) Tell me about your slice of coast and why you love it.

Being island dwellers, we’ve got a lot of coast around us. Cowes may not have the long sandy beaches of Sandown, or the rugged cliffs and coves of the south of the Wight, but our part of the coast is still pretty special. I love how the the sights from our stretch of coast are ever changing and always full of interest.

We’re a mecca for sailing, the waters of the Solent an irresistible lure for yachty types from around the world; but we also have regular visits from the imposing cruise and cargo ships, wending their way to Southampton. Every time I look, something different is there…what’s not to love?!

2) What’s your favourite thing to do by the sea?

My favourite thing to do by the sea has to be the same as my favourite thing to do anywhere: run! I’m not much of a swimmer, and canoeing/kayaking requires more upper body strength than I possess, but to run by the sea is a really special thing. Whether pushing against a headwind or propelled by a tail wind, nothing feels better than the sea air rushing past as I stride along.

The (currently) undeveloped seafront between Cowes and Gurnard is my most regular run, at its best with waves splashing over the side or the sun just dipping below the horizon and putting on a light show. We’re blessed with fantastic coastal running here though, with coastal downland providing challenging terrain and terrific views.

Segulls on East Cowes breakwater

3) If you had a little sailing boat, where would you go?

I think I’m a homebody, I wouldn’t want to venture too far! First I’d find someone who could keep me from drowning in the open waters; I’ve never sailed despite living in Cowes for seven years now! Then, I’d get them to take me on a coastal tour of the west of Great Britain.

We’d start in the magical land of Cornwall, visiting the secluded coves and steep valleys, before heading north to the Pembrokeshire coast, so rugged and ancient. I know these places well, but am always happy to visit again. We’d finish our trip with the islands and Scotland though, they look so beautiful and are certainly top of need to visit places.

View over St Catherines from a bench

Scotland is pretty close to the top of my list too! Though I suspect we’re more likely to travel overland than by boat.

If you have a slice of sea you’d like to share, please get in touch!

Photos by Tom Pratt.

East Cowes Mini Aventure

View of Cowes old town from East Cowes

Sometimes big plans just don’t happen. Sometimes that extra half hour in bed is too sweet, and a brunch with family warrants just one more cuppa, or a project at the kitchen table is too involving to abandon. And sometimes not having a car makes travelling to some scenic country spot just a little bit too much bother. But, failed plans can make room for mini adventures; this one an easy explore on our doorstep.

So today we didn’t get up to the downs before breakfast, but instead ran down to the chain ferry and across to East Cowes after teatime.  We explored a local bit of townside coast, and watched our little town from across the estuary.  It’s surprising how many interesting things there are amongst the concrete.  Old ship yards and high windowed warehouses looking out on an esplanade of sunday strollers and kids fishing.

Seagulls sitting on East Cowes breakwater

Sea bird on the beach

Old fence by the sea in East Cowes Isle of Wight

Rusty on the sea wall at East Cowes, Isle of Wight

We got a little carried away in the quiet pace of it and would have missed supermarket opening hours, if it weren’t for Tom being a much faster runner than me.  So, thanks to him we had yummy Sunday dinner and a well-stocked evening by the fire.  Feeling ready for another busy week.

Allotment Absentees

Last weekend my neighbour (and fellow allotmenteer) popped his head over the garden wall to to ask the dreaded question:  “How’s the allotment going?”  He informs me that I should be digging up ground, and planting broad beans.  But, with ground like this, we’ve had every reason not to..


It was a beautiful, frosty morning down on the allotment today, but the ground was far too hard to dig.  The fact that we were the only people down there gave us a little hint that today is not the day for allotmenteering.

And with winter walks, homemade projects and bitter cold, we’ve found plenty to distract us from the serious business of vegetables.

Allotment plans on hold, we wandered through Northwood Park, for some serious tree appreciation.  Tom pointed out the London Plane, the Lebanese Cedar, the Turkey Oak, and the Robin Hood Oak.  (The latter name being our own invention.)  The texture of the bark, the way they spread their canopy, the various occupants; trees are pretty inspiring.

Our town

Oh, how I love you, little town by the sea!!  The weekend is always off to a good start when we spend the morning wandering about Cowes in the sunshine.  Sometimes I get a bit overexcited.

Lovely old buildings, with high, oddly shaped windows in the low autumn sun.

And a newly-discovered sculpture in the wood above the Esplanade.