The feet have started itching again and we are planning, sometime over the next 4/5 years buying a 40-45ft cruiser and sailing to the eastern Mediterranean, Island hopping round the Greek Islands and after much local research buying a pied a terre in Cyprus, Turkey or Greece so that we could spend most of the time sailing.
The Solent is a lovely area and I hope it hasn't got too busy, it was starting to get like the M25 towards high tide even in my days.
It sounds like you've had a great time so far, and your plans for the Med are great. In the end, we might end up with a small place on the Oregon Coast but a decent boat in the Puget Sound (ready to to the inside passage and other area trips).
The Solent is and can be very crowded. A few weekends ago we couldn't even enter Lymington because it was full, and we got one of the last, difficult spaces in Yarmouth before it filled (we were the fifth boat rafted out from the pontoon). Launching with a broadside current wasn't fun.
Thus, you're right that it can be like the M25, but even then there are places to anchor, or show up early at, or simply raft at that still make it worthwhile. I've been rafted four deep at the Folly Inn, and it was still a fun experience. A guy self-appointed himself and his wife the hosts of the overloaded pontoon, and made everyone feel at home and part of the party.
Also, if you sail mid-week in the summer, it's fine. If you sail off-season, like the last four days, it's fine. You can always say the bank holidays are unbearable, but maybe that's the time to anchor and try to find some space away from others.
Let us know how your plans go-- I'd be interested in your choice of 40-45 footer. I'm still happy with 34, at least handling-wise...