Our fifth annual "weekend away" on the Isle of Wight started with a leisurely cruise across the Solent courtesy of Wightlink.
Settled in to the hostel at Totland, we chatted and made music in the quiet room
This year we had Samoan music from Esther and Ron
Saturday morning: cold and windy, but dry. Most of us are wrapped up warm for our traditional walk.
Dry but not very clear, but it's enough to see the Needles as we cross Headon Warren.
And the sun's shining a bit more as we pass Alum Bay on our way towards the Old Battery.
With a north-easterly on your back, it pays to be well insulated.
And with a north-easterly on your front you can defy gravity - I guess the competition to see who could lean furthest might be described as a needle match?
Certainly the views of the Needles were good as we reached our westernmost point and turned back towards Tennyson Down.
It was a tough walk, into the wind, and many took the lower route to the High Down Inn. Those who ventured to the monument didn't hang around - no team photos here today!
After lunch, most headed back to the hostel and diverse afternoon activities including swimming and a walk up the coast. Four of us, plus two from Wight Bells who were with us, headed onto Freshwater Bay, from where the four continued to the tidal limit of the River Yar
There were some good wintry views (especially when the power lines are digitally removed!)
We followed the Freshwater Way past Freshwater Church
with Old man's Beard growing over the church wall
The path took us almost to Yarmouth visible across the river, before we turned west and followed the coast path back to Totland.
Having skirted behind Fort Victoria, we came onto the beach near Colwell bay, and looked back at Fort Albert.
And so, via the beach and sea wall, we returned to the hostel.
After a rest and freshen up we were joined by a dozen or so from Wight Bells for a meal prepared by Esther.
Which in turn was followed by a social evening, with singing from the new Minden Rose songbook put together by Jackie, a stream of amazing facts from Clare in the corner, a terrific Elvis impression from Ron, English and Samoan songs from Esther, and a pot pourri of music led by Patrick and friends.
Sunday morning - not quite up with the lark (apart from Helen who ran to Tennyson Down and back). Breakfasted, hostel cleaned, we set our across the island. We split up into groups and found various things to entertain us until lunchtime. Our group headed along the Military Road to Ventnor, stopping to take the views back - here of Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down.
The wind was whipping the sea up - and it really isn't any use shouting "Wave" to tell them they're going to get wet...
Bright sunshine and white surf enhanced the golden beach
But that's enough frolicking on the beach - we've an appointment at the Bugle at Brading. here we met up with Wight Bells again, and danced behind the pub.
Someone forgot their kit, so Minden Rose decided to dance without.
They did their best to prove they weren't qualified to dance in this space
The dancing concluded with a Not For Joe with both sides joining in
And the bands combined too
It was warm enough to eat lunch on the deck - in the sun and out of the wind. But for some it was all too much! (It was a set up guv - I just lay down in the sun for a little snooze...)
All too soon our weekend was coming to a close, it was back to Fishbourne for the ferry back to the mainland...
... only to be overtaken by the speeding hovercraft as we neared Portsmouth in the setting sun.