Tree-t your Dad to a great experience on the Isle of Wight this Father’s Day

Dad_and_sonIt’ll be possible to treat (or even “tree-t”!) your Dad to a very special tree-climbing experience on the Isle of Wight this Father’s Day.

Award-winning Goodleaf Tree Climbing are offering vouchers for one of their two-hour sessions, which enable participants to use ropes and harnesses to climb 50-feet into the canopy of an ancient Oak tree.  All Dads taking part will also receive a free limited edition camping mug on the day of their climb.

Vouchers cost £37 for adults, £27 for children (and are valid until the end of October 2014).  For more details visit (or telephone 0333 800 1188).

Elsewhere on the Isle of Wight this Father’s Day, Dads will be able to…

-Travel free on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway:

-Enjoy one of the biggest and best music festivals in the whole of the UK at The Isle of Wight Festival (a day ticket costs £75):

(For Dads who can’t make it over to the Island for the Festival itself, a set of six retro limited edition posters, featuring glorious artwork from the previous 6 festivals, is available for £30):

-Or learn to sail, paraglide, fly, fish or golf at: The UK Sailing Academy in Cowes (; The High Adventure at Yarmouth (; The Isle of Wight Pleasure Flights in Sandown (; fishing and fishing-boat charters at various locations on the Island (; and golf courses in Cowes, East Cowes, Freshwater, Newport, Ryde, Sandown and Ventnor (

For all further tourist information from the Isle of Wight, visit

Dippy The Penguin’s Adventures on the Isle of Wight

Dippy pic01

Dippy The Penguin’s Adventures on the Isle of Wight

Launch date Tuesday 28th May at 12.30pm.

The Needles Park and Seaview Wildlife Encounter launch a new and exciting cross marketing project with the help of  ‘Dippy  The Penguin’ the first real Penguin to ever be launched onto Facebook!

Dippy aims to promote Island Tourism with a creative theme that captures the imagination of everyone who loves Penguins. His adventures see him travel through time and space to different locations on the Isle of Wight.

The creative project will see Dippy the ‘real penguin’ superimposed into a variety of Isle of Wight locations accompanied by short narrative about his adventures and will be played out through posts on his Facebook page

Dippy’s Adventures will then be developed into a series of children’s books which are planned to be published towards the end of the year.

Lorraine Adams, Director at Seaview Wildlife explains, “Dippy’s adventures will be educational and fun.  Dippy aims to promote outside activities, Island heritage and the environment.  Dippy’s mission is to show children how exciting and diverse the Island can be . . . We look forward to developing this exciting project with other local businesses and organisations over the summer.”

Royal Visit:

A Queen Victoria re-enactor will officially launch ‘Dippy’s Adventures on the Isle of Wight’ at Seaview Wildlife Encounter on Tuesday 28th May at 12.30pm.

The ceremony will proceed with the cutting of a ribbon to open the Penguin Pool with a new ‘ Needles Lighthouse Development’ – an exciting new installation, comprising of a Needles and Lighthouse scale model recreation alongside the existing pool area.

The creative theme to Dippy’s Adventures on the Isle of Wight is based upon the idea that the new lighthouse installation at Seaview will contain a magic door that is just big enough for a penguin to squeeze through. . . 

Mary Cracknell, Marketing Manager at the Needles Park commented “We are very excited about the new developments at Dippy’s Penguin Pool and look forward to Dippy’s magic door transporting him across the Island to the real Needles, where we will see him start off on his adventures around the Isle of Wight to a variety of destinations”

For more information contact: Lorraine Adams  07811560790

More Blue Flags have been awarded to the Isle of Wight’s beaches compared to 2012.

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In total, the Island now has four Blue Flag beaches compared to three last year as well as 13 Seaside Awards which is two more than in 2012. This means the Isle of Wight, with 17, has the highest amount of awards in the whole country.

The prestigious Blue Flag scheme and Seaside Awards – which were previously known as Quality Coast Awards – are run by the Keep Britain Tidy Group.

Sandown and Ventnor beaches have retained their Blue Flags while Yaverland and Colwell have been awarded flags – the latter being given the award for the first time in over two decades.

All four beaches have also been given Seaside Awards along with Cowes, East Cowes, Springvale, Seagrove, Gurnard, Ryde East, St Helens, Totland and Shanklin giving the Isle of Wight 17 awards in total – four more than last year.

The total of 17 awards means the Isle of Wight is once again the number one region in the south east for award winning beaches, with Torbay in second with 14 awards and Thanet in third with 13.

Councillor Shirley Smart, cabinet member responsible for tourism and economy said; “The Isle of Wight has again shown it is the best in the region for top quality beaches and also number one in the country.

“The criteria required to meet both the Blue Flag and Seaside Award have been made even harder and the standards are now exceptionally strict. A lot of hard work goes in to maintaining our beaches and this is shown with both Yaverland and Colwell being awarded Blue Flags this year.

“This is excellent news with the main summer tourism season just around the corner.”

David Thornton, chief executive of Visit Wight said; “It’s always a great boost to receive news like this. This is especially timely given that we are raising the Island’s profile as the place where visitors can come to this year to not only walk on our beaches, but also walk with dinosaurs!

“The Isle of Wight has always been perceived as a popular seaside holiday destination, and this just shows how much quality we have to offer on our Island to our visitors.”



Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill Adventure Park & Gardens, the Island’s leading tourist attractions, have each been awarded the prestigious ‘Certificate of Excellence 2013’ by TripAdvisor, placing them in the top performing 10% of all businesses worldwide that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.

Alexander Dabell, Managing Director of Vectis Ventures which owns both parks, said, “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this prestigious accolade for both parks, especially as the awards are based directly on feedback from our visitors on the experiences they have enjoyed. We are continually looking at new ways to enhance each of the parks which are very individual in their own way.

The park managers and their teams should be congratulated for the great effort they put in to ensure that the visitor experience is as memorable as it can be.”Alexander continued, “This year is particularly special for us as Blackgang Chine, the UK’s oldest theme park, is celebrating 170 years of trading and we have some great events planned for our visitors to enjoy at both parks including some very special new attractions coming this summer.”The ‘Certificate of Excellence’ accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide.

Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listedon TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site with more than 60 million reviews and opinions by travellers around the world.For further information visit : and


Mad Hatter makeover at Dimbola Tea Room

Hats off to Dimbola

Mad Hatter makeover at Dimbola Tea Room wins top award

Last Wednesday (15/5/13) the Dimbola Tea Room won the Museum & Heritage Award for Excellence for best project on a limited budget fending off serious competition from The British Library and National Galleries of Scotland. The Awards, held in London, were presented by BAFTA winning comedienne Sue Perkins. Dimbola Museum trustees Gail Middleton and Mary Clemmensen were on hand to pick up the award.


‘This is a very prestigious award,’ says Gail ‘and proof that Dimbola is made all the more magical by our amazing team of volunteers led by Shirley Harman. The work for this project was carried out by them and we can’t thank them enough.’

The tea room makeover was part of a volunteer based initiative aimed at making the space more attractive to people of all ages whilst still retaining a strong connection to the museum and galleries. The budget was only £1,500 and so the team utilized reclaimed objects, donated china and up-cycled old linen. The theme of Mad Hatter was chosen as Lewis Carroll was a visitor to Dimbola and there is clear evidence that some of his characters were based on the ‘Freshwater circle’ which included Julia Margaret Cameron.  This is explored in two exhibitions, The Wonderland of Alice, on show at the gallery over the summer.

There is no charge to visit the tea room which is open 7 days a week serving delicious home-made food and afternoon tea. They also serve a classic Victorian high-tea which requires 24 hour notice and costs just £15.00 for two people. The tea includes sandwiches, cakes and scones with cream and jam.


Dimbola Museum & Galleries is the former home of pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879). The Museum is dedicated to displaying her life and work as well as showcasing contemporary exhibitions from photographers around the world.

April – October: The gallery and tea room serving freshly made food, open 7 days a week 10am – 5pm, last entry 4.30pm. Entry to the Museum and Gallery is £4.00 for adults

The M+H Awards, now in their 11th year, was attended by over 300 guests and celebrates the best practice within museums, galleries and heritage visitor attractions. Each year hundreds of entrants  battle it out to win one of eleven prestigious awards.  Categories are judged by a panel of experts from a range of industry sectors and specialism’s. The judges will be looking for evidence of ‘outcome, creativity, relation to objective and cost effectiveness’

Gail Downey Middleton is the author of THE FRESHWATER CIRCLE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS AND WHAT LEWIS CARROLL FOUND THERE. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron, George Frederick Watts were all part of the glittering Freshwater circle. Gail’s book explores how they may have inspired Lewis Carroll giving substance to his literary characters. Gail also worked in the fashion industry for many years with such luminaries as John Galliano.

For more information call 01983 756 814 or visit Museum & Galleries: Terrace Lane, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight PO40 9QEPhoto credit Julian Winslow

Tracy Mikich

Mobile: 0744 905 4368

New Needles Pleasure Cruise boat, the Yarmouth Rose is launched

Yarmouth Rose low res

We’ve recently taken delivery of our new purposely built passenger Vessel “Yarmouth Rose” to replace one of our older vessels operating from the beach at Alum Bay to the Needles Lighthouse.
She is 15 metres in length and licensed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for 87 people to operate within the Solent all year round. Dual certification also allows operation up to 60 miles offshore, but with a limit of 12 passengers.
The vessel has been under construction for the last 16 months by Trinity Boats of Plymouth and designed to a modern, comfortable and very spacious standard. The design concept is well proven with many like examples operating in the Scilly Isles and around the coast of Ireland.

Alum Bay 230413 low res

Friday 17th May saw the naming ceremony in Yarmouth Harbour with the High Sheriff, Mary Case officially naming the boat. It is also anticipated to have a promotion day with the Needles Park, offering island residents a trip for £1 on a weekend day sometime in June – see under the Events page titled “Launch at the Needles” for more details.

The Needles panoramiv 230413

Yarmouth Rose will be working with our other vessels Ramblin’ Rose, a similar sized vessel to Yarmouth Rose, and Skye Rose a fast 10 metre Rigid Inflatable Boat, all offering cruises to view the Needles Rocks and Lighthouse from Alum Bay adjacent to The Needles Park. Yarmouth Rose will also have the versatility of being able to undertake private charters outside of her usual scope of work at the Needles.

Robin Hill press information/editorial for Whitsun half term 2013

Experience the magic of dreamy nights at Robin Hill this half term

There’s something quite enchanting happening at Robin Hill Adventure Park & Gardens this half term holiday….

Not only is the park open each day between 10am and 6pm with it’s fabulous mix of family attractions and entertainment, but visitors can also experience four special late evening openings as Robin Hill’s ancient woodland fade into a magical summer twilight, enhanced by beautiful light, sound and performance. It’s the latest offering in the park’s Electric Woods series; Midsummer Dreams, running between Monday 27th May and Thursday 30th May inclusive, when the park stays open until 9.30pm.

See surreal costumed characters and walking performers promenade through the woodland trails, capturing the magic of a mystical summers evening, where quite literally anything could happen.  Watch out for living statues, mime artists, fairies and a bizarre range of wonderful characters that will appear around the glades to interact and entertain visitors, young and old.

And what better addition to capture the atmosphere of these dreamy evenings, than a performance of the classic Shakespeare comedy “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”- brought to you by students of Christ the King’s College (Carisbrooke) and cleverly condensed into a half hour play… suitable for a wide family audience. Visitors can experience two amazing performances of the play per night at Robin Hill’s woodland bowl at 6.45pm and 8.15pm, with a woodland promenade of all the characters in between.

Visitors can also enjoy a special tea time owl show at 5pm followed by a special summer evening BBQ at the Africa play area between 5.30pm and 8.30pm, where kids can eat for half price* with full paying adults (*conditions apply). There’s also a licensed bar and hot oriental food until late at the woodland ponds, with more live acoustic music all evening for your listening pleasure. 

These special late openings are all included in the Robin Hill seven day return ticket, with the rest of the park staying open until late if you simply want to enjoy the rides and attractions as normal. Evening only tickets are also available after 6.30pm each night, excluding rides and attractions. See  for all the details. So come, relax and enjoy a magical day and evening at Robin Hill this half term and experience the park in a whole new way. It really will be the perfect holiday treat for the whole family!

A whole season’s fun for the price of one ticket at Blackgang and Robin Hill

A whole season’s fun for the price of one ticket!


Blackgang Chine and its sister park, Robin Hill, two of the Island’s top attractions, are offering a whole season’s worth of fun at both parks in just one season ticket.

Not only can Islander’s with a joint season ticket access both parks as many times as they like throughout the season, but they can also enjoy the additional special events taking place too, including the spectacular evening musical firework display every Wednesday and the Dinosaur Discovery Days every Thursday at Blackang, and the stunning Electric Woods at Robin Hill where the ancient woodland is brought to life with imaginative lighting, sound and special effects creating a wonderful evening experience.

And with over 150 days still remaining of the 2013 season, where else can visitors enjoy the thrill of water slides and a cliff edge roller coaster, life-sized Pirate Ships, Fairy Villages and Castles, Dodo Valleys, a Dinosaur Land and an African Adventure, a 4D motion cinema, falconry & owl shows, woodland gardens and wildlife – that the whole family can enjoy all summer long? Blackgang Chine & Robin Hill really are the perfect places for days of family fun.

For further information visit : and

A delicious reason to visit the Isle of Wight

Set sail to the wonderful Isle of Wight and enjoy dinner, bed, breakfast & car ferry from just £87.50 per person per night*

To celebrate the arrival of our new head chef, Alan Staley we are offering a fantastic car-ferry inclusive, dinner, bed and breakfast package. Alan is widely regarded as one of the best chefs on the island. He began his training under Anton Edelmann at the Savoy before returning to the island and today he has a string of awards to his name. His exceptionally skilful, yet unfussy, modern British style of cooking utilises meat and vegetables from our own Newclose Farm.

Sail away offer includes:

  • Return Wightlink car ferry from Portsmouth
  • Three course dinner every evening
  • Accommodation in a classic room
  • Full English breakfast every morning

To book please call 01983 612711 and quote ‘SAIL AWAY’ when booking.

Add extra nights for just £75 per person per night based on 2 sharing.

Farmer Jacks Asparagus
Chargrilled local asparagus, potato salad with rouille
Locally smoked Scottish salmon, pickled beetroot salad
Duck liver parfait, red onion marmalade, toasted brioche
Cornfed Chicken
Chicken Caesar salad
Goats Cheese
Rosary ash goats cheese, pickled pear and walnut salad

Catch of the Day
Served with Jersey Royals, seasonal vegetables or salad, lemon and herb butter
Baked cod with herb crust, spring vegetable broth flavoured with saffron
Dunsbury Farm Lamb
Slow braised lamb shoulder, creamed potatoes, broccoli, rosemary jus
Briddlesford Farm Veal
Pan fried escalope of veal, Lyonnaise potatoes, baby spinach, fried egg, caper and herb butter
Pan fried chicken breast, crushed new potatoes with tarragon,
local asparagus and local heritage tomatoes
Pan fried ricotta gnocchi, local asparagus, confit tomatoes, pesto

Rum Pannacotta, caramel poached pineapple
Chocolate sphere, caramel ice cream, chocolate orange sauce
Crème Brûlée
Flavoured with vanilla served with Newclose Farm rhubarb compote and Viennese biscuits
Pain perdu, apple compote, rum soaked raisins, apple strudel ice cream
Lemon meringue tart with raspberries

*Based on 2 sharing, minimum 2 night stay in a standard room. New bookings only, subject to availability, excluding 14-16th June. Supplements apply for superior rooms/suites. Offer valid from 17/05/13- 12/07/13. Offer without car-ferry £75 per person per night, minimum 2 night stay – quote SAIL AWAY when booking.

New hybrid of Giant Waterlily being grown at Ventnor Botanic Garden

Ventnor Botanic Garden is delighted to announce an exciting, new botanic project, involving the crossing of two species of Giant Waterlily. The aim is to hybridise an un-named cultivar of Victoria amazonica with the Victoria cruziana in order to produce a new hybrid. VBG has grown the Giant Waterlily; which is an annual plant grown from seed, since 2002. However, this is the first time we are hoping to grow both the V.amazonica and V.cruziana species and hybridise them.

The seed was sown on March 3rd 2013 and so far we have one V. amazonica seedling and three V. cruziana seedlings. Our aim is for the new hybrid to possess the better characteristics of both its parent plants. These plants only flower late at night so VBG will be holding special events in the Tropical House for visitors to come and see this unique plant and to enjoy its rare and beautiful flowers. More about the Giant Waterlily: The Giant Waterlily, Victoria spp has such a remarkable growth rate, it develops from a pea sized seed to a plant, with lily pads nearly 3m in diameter; within a few months, it is even able to bear the weight of a child! Each individual flower only opens twice. On the first night the flower is white in order to attract scarab beetle pollinators.

The beetles are attracted to the whiteness of the petals and the strong scent the flower produces. At this stage the flower is receptive female. Over night, the flower closes which traps the beetle inside. The flower then changes its sex, and releases pollen onto the imprisoned beetle. On the second night the flower opens again, but this time it is pink in colour. The beetle is freed from the flower and free to move onto another plant, again attracted by the white petals and strong scent. Pollination is complete and the lifecycle of the lily starts again.
Chris Kidd said, “Very few gardens are able to cultivate a single Giant Waterlily, even fewer can grow both. At VBG this year we hope to grow both and hybridise them which to my knowledge has not been done in the UK since I did it at Kew in 1994. Seed from that cross were used throughout the UK for many years, we hope to achieve that same goal here. This puts less pressure on wild stocks of the lily.”
We will be following the growth and development of the Giant Waterlily, tracking its progress through our website, Facebook and Twitter pages. We hope you will follow this exciting journey with us.