Sunday 18 October

We were up and ready for our 3 course breakfast. The food here is incredibly good and we have wonderful choices. Every evening we fill in a form for our packed lunch the following day, and also the dinner. It means the chef only cooks what is required and there is less wastage. For dinner there are 3 choices of starters, 4 choices of main course, meat, fish, vegetarian or salad, and 5 choices of desert, 2 always being ice cream or cheese and biscuits. They are generous portions and it is always beautifully presented. The walks are very necessary to burn off the calories ingested.

Today we walked over Compton Down and Brook Down, along the chalk ridge which runs the length of the island. Then we dropped down to the village of Mottistone. Very fortuitously we were there at lunch time. It has a National Trust garden and as many of the group are members, we piled in to look around, and eat our lunch at a picnic table in delightful surroundings. There was still a huge amount of colour in the garden, with dahlias, cosmos and nerenes in full swing. The Island has a very temperate climate, so palms and other semi tropical plants thrive here. It has a magnificent herbaceous border.

The hedgerows are colourful too: honeysuckle is still in bloom, blackberries in evidence and sloes. Gorse, scabious, and some heather still in flower. This brilliant red is provided by spindleberries.

The trees are just beginning to turn and in the grounds of Brookfield Manor we saw some lovely acers. The walk then took us down to the south coast, along the coastal path all the way back to the house. In places the cliff has fallen away and we had to move inland a little.

This photo shows me at the beginning of the walk in fact, on the downs, with our HF house in the background. We clocked up 11.2 miles today, a pleasing achievement.

At one point in a sunken lane, we saw some small holes in the bank, as if a small animal had burrowed its way in. Maybe a stoat or weasel? Which reminded me of my dad’s old joke: how can you tell the difference between a weasel and a stoat? A weasel is weaselly distinguished and a stoat is stoatally different. Boom boom!

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