Before moving to London, I had never heard the word “Twixtmas.” Apparently, it’s a British nickname for the days between Christmas & New Year’s, and it’s very popular, especially for Londoners, to figure out (/mildly stress over) where and how to wile these days away.
Luckily for us, our plans fell into our laps, well before we even knew that Twixtmas was a thing! We were on the hunt for a pug-friendly destination somewhere in the UK, when lo and behold, an invitation to explore the Isle of Wight came through. A quick perusal for info regarding the island’s level of dog friendliness annnd we were sold. Seriously, in all of the bug’s travels — even in France where they prefer dogs to people — we’ve never felt so welcome for having a pooch strapped to our backs.
To be completely honest, up until our trip, I didn’t know too much about the Isle of Wight. Guernsey has long been on the LT dream list, and I’ve heard great things about Jersey… but the Isle of Wight just sounded like a quaint summer getaway that I couldn’t fully envision. WELP, now I can and I want to move there and become a fishwife and live happily ever after.
The Isle of Wight: DAY ONE
The Wightlink // We woke up bright and early to nab a rental car from the Christmas hell that is Westfield Shopping Mall (and the rental agency shall not be named but it rhymes with Shmavis AND I HATE THEM), and zipped off through the London traffic to the ferry — genuinely fearing we weren’t going to make our reserved time, due to Shmavis’s complete ineptitude. Can you tell we started off on a good foot? I had immediate concerns that this was going to be Scotland: The Islandy Redux, but Jeff told me to go to sleep until we got to Portsmouth, and all was right upon arrival.
As mentioned, because we treat our pug like a dog/human crossbreed, he was with us on this adventure. In the event dogs were merely tolerated on the Wightlink, we had our usual concerns about keeping him covered & quiet so as not to draw attention to his smushy self. That quickly proved to be a very unnecessary concern.
As we parked our car on the ground (sea?) floor of the car ferry and exited avec le backpack pug, we noticed… pretty much everyone else exiting their own cars had at LEAST one dog with them. All on leash, none in carriers! And, for being late December, it was packed! We walked up to one of the higher floors and parked ourselves in front of a huge window. With coffee in our hands and pups on all sides, we watched Portsmouth drift further and further away.
I WAS IN HEAVEN.
Seriously, the ride wasn’t that long, and I was… genuinely disappointed when it was over? I went to undergrad on Staten Island, so I am DEF not used to the feeling of wishing a ferry ride would last forever and ever. It was jarring and amazing and I want to take the Wightlink everyday.
Carisbrooke Castle // A gurgly announcement told us we would be docking soon, and that drivers should head to their cars. We got lucky with a spot right up front, so we were on our way very quickly. We had a few hours in the itins to explore Carisbrooke Castle, so we drove about 25 minutes inland to find it shining atop a hill, just as the sun was slowly beginning her descent.
We spent the next hour and a half wandering the grounds where Charles I was once imprisoned, and trying to decide if we’d rather live in an English manor or a French chateau. Will let you know my official ruling, I still can’t decide.
It was freezing and beautiful and straight out of a fairytale (though I could have done without the donkey demo… they’re well loved and seemingly well treated, but, you know. Work animals for funsies, not my jam.) By the time we left, golden hour was in full swing, and we were on our way to our hotel as the sun officially began to set.
The Seaview Hotel // We arrived at the Seaview Hotel — a small inn named for its town and general proximity to the water, but not its actual views, as none of the rooms technically overlook the sea. This confused me at first, but definitely didn’t take away from the experience (you get an eyeful of sea each time you walk out the front gate, so it’s not like it’s hiding).
The inn is the epitome of quaint, though it could use an update — I get the feeling they don’t struggle for guests due to the perfect location, but our room felt a bit tired. However, a planned refurb was noted as we were given the tour of our two bedroom flat, so it sounds like it’s in the works!
…OH, JUST A TV IN THE SHOWER:
After unpacking a bit, we popped into the Seaview Hotel bar for a taste of their famous crab ramekin. Even if you’re not staying in the actual hotel, this is a very worthy stop. Plus, pug got to lounge by a small wood stove while we sipped our pints, so, success.
Also! At the time of writing this, the Seaview is offering a special 2-night winter break package for 2, including dinners and return ferry, for £350, so hop on that. If there’s one lesson here (aside from the dog loving lesson), it’s that the Isle of Wight is not just a summer destination… though, I’m obviously already dying for a summer seaside return.
Three Buoys // Had it been summer, we would have walked the easy stroll along the sea and up the flight of stairs to this waterfront restaurant. Because it was the decidedly the opposite of summer, we opted for a slightly confusing drive around some winding one-way streets. Once we arrived, we were pleased to find a warm and cozy restaurant, still decorated for Christmas, with a little nook in the corner, ready and waiting for us.
And that’s a wrap on day one on the Isle of Wight! Though I was smitten after our first 18 hours, day two was when I decided I was never leaving.
I mean, spoiler alert, I left. But I WILL return.
– We were guests of Tourism South East and Visit Isle of Wight, but, as always, all opinions are my own. It’s hard not to genuinely love a place with such warm and welcoming people, amazing food, and a serious love for dogs, you know?