You’ve been telling us about some of the trips you’ve been able to go on recently - this time we hear from Lin Wilson of Solent Events & Leisure about their Isle of Wight break.

Lin Wilson's Isle of Wight trip

Members of the group enjoying lunch at the Ryde Castle Hotel.

Our three days away were such a ‘tonic’ for everyone after the stresses and strains of the past six months, we’re so glad we went! It felt like things were back to normal but with protocols in place - the group felt the same, they were happy with everything. They said it was so lovely and relaxing. 

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The weather helped - it was beautiful and we also had a great hotel and coach driver which makes all the difference. We stayed at Bourne Hall House Hotel, Shanklin, and the staff were well set up for us. They wore masks all the time and there was a one way system in and out of the hotel through the gardens.

Lin Wilson's Isle of Wight trip

The group enjoyed a visit to Osborne House, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s family home.

We all had to wear masks in public areas of the hotel, but not the bar or the restaurant. On arrival we chose who we’d sit with in the restaurant to ensure that there weren’t more than six people but we tended to split up into smaller groups anyway so it didn’t really make much difference. 

“We all felt very safe - it did take extra preparation before the trip to ensure that all the members were aware of the protocols but it didn’t take anything away from the enjoyment.”

It’s all very open on the Isle of Wight. I set out all the protocols on paper for the coach, ferry and the hotel and included them in the members’ travel packs before the holiday. Communication is key and if you think about the measures and restrictions sensibly you work out how you can do them safely. It’s about reassuring members that you’ve done your bit and that all the places you’re visiting have done their bit - the attractions are set up very well.

“It felt fantastic to be on the road again - as soon as I got on the coach, I realised just how much I’d missed it. It was exhilarating. Now I know how it works, we’ll be planning the next holiday.”

Covid-safe coach

I had 30 guests on our 53-seater coach during the tour and everyone thought the set-up was excellent.

Lin Wilson's Isle of Wight trip

There were 30 guests on the 53-seater coach during the holiday.

I think coach companies are arranging their seating in a different way, but mine are as follows:

  • Two front seats behind the driver are left empty, but as tour manager I sat in the window seat of the nearside, whist the driver had a Perspex hinged window protecting him.
  • Single people by the window all the way up the off-side.
  • Couples all the way up the nearside.
  • This means that there is the appropriate one-metre gap between the singles and the aisle seat of the doubles.

The itinerary

The mystery tour began from the ferry at Fishbourne with a visit through pretty villages and winding roads to Whippingham and St Mildred’s (Queen Victoria’s church) which overlooks the River Medina. We were warmly welcomed and given a short history of the church, the graves and the almshouses opposite. Lunch was in the bustling and historic seaside town of Ryde before we headed along the coast road to Shanklin for the obligatory ice-cream on the beach. 

Lin Wilson's Isle of Wight trip

St Mildred’s Church in East Cowes was used by Queen Victoria when she was in residence at Osborne House.

We also visited the Donkey Sanctuary which was brilliant - we were able to go straight in because I’d given the attraction a list of names and the group appreciated that. Lunch was enjoyed in Shanklin before we headed to Osborne House at Cowes - we were able to explore the ground floor, gardens and beach.

We couldn’t leave the island without a short stop in the world renowned yachting haven of Cowes, where we watched Alex Thomson on his formidable Huge Boss black,white and pink racing yacht practising for the single-handed Vendee Globe round-the-world race - it was an awesome sight!  

Lin, a member of the New Meridian Association, has said she’s happy to speak to other group organisers about considerations in planning group holidays and taking into account the coronavirus restrictions and measures.

Her number is 07977 065885 and her email address is