I arrived on Friday night after fifteen minutes of riding around Southsea looking for the right road, finally giving in and phoning for help, and we went out for a curry before watching the amusingly silly Stealth, a film about a sentient fighter plane.
The plan for Saturday was to visit the Isle of Wight, which we did by hovercraft. This wasn't a mode of transport I had used before and was very quick and smooth, though I wish you could go out and stand on the deck.
We decided to go to the Needles, two hours on two buses from Ryde. By the time we arrived the Old Battery was closed, but we hiked up to the viewpoint, hiked back down, and rewarded ourselves with an award-winning cream tea in the company of pygmy goats.
The weather was glorious, we had previously spent an hour traipsing round Ryde in search of bathing-wear for those of us who had not brought any (not me, I am always prepared), and Alum Bay beckoned. But when we checked the bus timetable we discovered that the last bus was due to leave in two minutes' time, and on arrival back in Ryde we checked the hovercraft timetable and lo, the last one was leaving ten minutes later.
The sun had set and the harbour lights twinkled as we zoomed back across the waves. Ultra's mobile rang and he was able to deliver the immortal line "I'm on a hovercraft!" while the rest of us ROFLed.
Back in Southsea we dined at the Surf Grill Shack, a groovy little joint with a nice selection on the jukebox and free cocktails with your meal. The waiters made up in friendliness what they lacked in competence, and wardy somehow walked off with a free bottle of whisky.
Nothing was going to keep us from our long-planned swim on Sunday, and after the second greasy-spoon breakfast of the weekend we hit the beach. We plucked up our courage, picked our way across the pebbles, stepped boldly into the icy waters, then lolloped around shrieking and giggling.
By mid-afternoon both silvante and wardy had left us, the latter to take many trains back to Chesterfield and the former to eat tapas with his 75-year-old grandmother. After a browse around the local street festival it was my turn to head off and tangle with the Hindhead roadworks again.
A lovely, golden weekend filled with banter and in-jokes; a last bite of summer snatched from the very jaws of autumn. Thanks to the thunderbolt_b posse for their company!