We are regular diners at the Dimbola cafe in Freshwater Bay. Our holiday let is next door and it has provided many brie, bacon and cranberry paninis.
Despite this, I had never got round to visiting the museum at Dimbola. I could tell you great detail about the many Victorian artists who visited but hadn't actually been myself.
The opportunity arose during the Women's World Cup when child two made it quite clear that she wasn't interested in watching the match. I dutifully offered to get her out of the way so the rest of the family could watch it in peace.
We started at Freshwater Bay's bus stop library before heading for the Dimbola museum.
At Dimbola, we paid about £7 for an adult and child and were given a clipboard and quiz - which is an absolute winner for us. A simple trail, ideally with a prize at the end turns a 20 minute trip into a 60+ minute trip.
We also found this to be the case at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway recently. Their trail kept our two occupied very nicely and the clues were laid out well across the site.
We also visited Yarmouth Castle in the same week. It's a beautiful building with gorgeous views but we were done in 19 minutes. The children's dressing up was being used by others when we popped our head round the door, so we moved along. The guidebook we bought was a detailed guide to its history rather than something to occupy the children. What we really needed was a series of letters hidden round the castle which spell out a word - and a prize pencil at the end.
Anyway, back to Dimbola.
The permanent exhibition is about the life of Julia Margaret Cameron. She treated photography as an art form, which was a novel idea in the 1800s.
The museum is a collection of her cameras and photos, as well as a best-guess recreation of her bedroom. It's a good collection but the venue helps things along a lot as well. The building has a lot of character and excellent views of Freshwater Bay, which are almost as good as the views from my flat which is available to hire from Classic Cottages... (Ed: very subtle).
We particularly liked the dressing up area at Dimbola, where we worked our way through the hats and dresses. It turns out that green satin is my colour.
Thanks to the trail, we spent a good chunk of time in this part of the museum. Without the trail, I would have still been reading the first entry on the timeline whilst child two was pulling on my arm. When we finally handed in our worksheet, the volunteer on the ticket office did a good job of appearing impressed. This helped greatly.
The rest of the museum was all about the Isle of Wight Festival, which holds a personal fascination for me (see our guide to unforgettable festival moments).
The permanent section is about the 1970 festival, which took place down the road in Afton. The temporary exhibition is about the festival's revival from 2002 to 2023. There are photos, a fantastic video of highlights and a few bits of memorabilia.
I could have spent an hour or more in here, but child two didn't quite feel the same unfortunately as the trail only covered the permanent museum.
I allowed myself a couple of minutes looking at festival photos before reluctantly moving on to the gift shop for an argument about whether a notepad needed to be paid for from the pocket money fund or my money.
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