Initially I assumed there weren't enough cats or LOLs but it turns out it was too much of an advert for the Isle of Wight. To be fair, it was.
Anyway, here's a very similar guide which I can happily host on my own blog.
I recently wrote an article for Buzzfeed with the title of '16 reasons you must visit the Isle of Wight this summer'. Within 12 hours it had been deleted and my account removed.
Initially I assumed there weren't enough cats or LOLs but it turns out it was too much of an advert for the Isle of Wight. To be fair, it was.
Anyway, here's a very similar guide which I can happily host on my own blog.
1. The sun will shine, because the Isle of Wight gets 500 hours a year more sunshine than London.
3. ...and so is David Guetta
4. We've also got festivals celebrating our love of garlic...
5. ...and campervans...
6. ...and Jason Donovan.
7. If you've got a yacht you can turn up your collar and join the world's largest yachting regatta...
8. ...or race around the Island with 1500 other yachts...
9. ...or play cricket in the Solent.
10. And whilst we don't have Bestival anymore, we do have a fringe festival in a Victorian seaside resort...
11. ...and there's a new festival in September on Bestival's former site.
12. You can learn to surf...
13. ...jump off a cliff...
14... kayak into smuggler's caves...
15. ...or just have a cup of tea by the seaside
16. There are loads of quirky places to stay...
17. ...and it's only two hours from London
There are several Isle of Wight beaches which I have no memory of visiting. My mother will tell me that we did a full tour when we first moved to the island in 1990 (and will produce photo evidence) but from my point of view I still have a handful to tick off the list and add to our beaches guide.
And so we headed to St Catherine's Lighthouse with a view to exploring one of the beaches nearby before it got dark.
The path down is pretty steep but mostly tarmac for pushchairs and wheelchairs, although on this occasion I was without the darling daughters and was with an old school friend.
We decided to head left across the fields and weighed up whether we were more intimidated by the herd of cows on the cliff path or the squelchy grass which had endured a wet week.
I went for wet feet instead of death on jagged rocks and we started looking for a route to the next field. In hindsight, sticking to the path would have wise and I soon found that my legs were covered in a brown liquid which I hoped was mud.
By the time we reached the path to take us to the beach I was looking like I had scored badly during an outdoor challenge on the Krypton Factor.
A few minutes later we were at Reeth Bay, also known as Castlehaven which has a few twee caravans, a bench and not a lot else.
When we first arrived there were two other people on the beach (plus a dog) but they soon made their exit, presumably feeling the whole place was getting a bit crowded. I may have even heard one of them mutter "It's not like it used to be here".
The tide was very high, so we resorted to clambering along the rocks.
Reeth Bay is a great example of the diversity of the Isle of Wight's coastline. It is only about 9 miles from Shanklin (and much closer to Ventnor) but the two feel completely at-odds with each other. Shanklin has mini-golf, amusement arcades and ice cream huts (which I love, by the way), whilst you'll sometimes have Reeth Bay all to yourself.
Sure, Cornwall and Devon do things on a grander scale, but it's nice being able to wake up in the morning and choose the kind of beach you'd like to visit rather than being limited to either one beach or an hour's drive.
We returned to the car along the road rather than through the muddy field and ticked another beach off the list of places-I've-been-but-have-forgotten-about.
We considered a cruise for our honeymoon a few years ago. I liked the idea of visiting 10 cities in 10 days, as a sort of turbo tourism. I was put off when I remembered a Round The Island Yacht Race I took part in and spent the whole time going gradually greener.
I was supposed to be reporting on it for local radio, but spent most of the time just giving an update of how ill I felt. I’m assured cruise ships are much more stable than a yacht which was nicknamed ‘The Vomit Comet’ but I didn’t fancy taking the risk.
Still, it’s quite clear that cruising is hugely popular and the Solent is something of centre for such things.
And so, I was intrigued to hear of tentative-one day-potential plans to exploit Cowes as a stopping point for cruise ships.
It’s clearly just an idea at the moment but the press release includes this quote;
Capt. Stuart McIntosh, Cowes Harbour Master, said: “There is real potential to establish Cowes as a popular cruise ship destination and with its central south coast location, it is an ideally situated port-of-call for cruise ship operators catering to the northern European luxury cruise market.”
No doubt there are obstacles, but I love the idea of huge great cruise ships turning up in Cowes and thousands of foreign tourists arriving for the day. Sure, it wouldn’t bring any overnight trade to support accommodation providers but there’s potential to showcase the Isle of Wight during a quick tour which will lead to return visits.
And of course, it would be a real boost for retailers and attractions to have queues out the door outside of school holidays.
So what would people do during their few hours onshore? I’ve had this discussion a few times recently with people who have only a few hours on the Island and want to get a feel for it.
Cowes is one of my favourite parts of the Isle of Wight, but you wouldn’t want to spend the whole day there unless you particularly enjoyed watching boats (presumably you get enough of that onboard a cruise ship). You’d be much better to hop on an open top bus or a bicycle and have an explore.
One option I’d favour would be an open top bus with a walk up to the Pepperpot, fossil hunting at Brook Chine and then the obligatory visit to either The Needles Old Battery or the chairlift and Alum Bay. The views from The Pepperpot are glorious as is the drive over the top of the Military Road and down into Freshwater Bay.
History fans could probably combine Carisbrooke Castle and Osborne House into one day if they didn’t spend too long reading every single noticeboard (like my mother would).
And then there’s the Twee Tour, which would incorporate Godshill and Shanklin’s Olde Village – we’d market it as “More thatch than you can shake a stick at!”
There’s plenty of potential there, and the Isle of Wight is compact enough that visitors could see some really lovely parts without spending all day on a bus.
Probably best if cruise ships don’t arrive during Cowes Week though, I think it might get a bit crowded
Official winter brochures for English seaside resorts paint a rosy picture of crisp mornings, low lying sun glistening off the sea and roaring fires in thatched pubs. There’s very little mention of England’s winter rain or howling wind battering against closed ice cream huts.
If you fancy a winter weekend away without the hassle of flying then my advice is controversial and it will probably rile bed and breakfast proprietors across the land.
Here goes: Book at the last minute.
In the height of summer I advise the complete opposite for visitors considering a trip to the Isle of Wight. Last minute summertime visitors pay more for the ferry and they are left with a slimmer choice of accommodation (which is a polite way of saying that you’ll end up camping in a layby).
In winter, you’ll rarely find anywhere fully booked - except perhaps over Christmas - and with a bit of research you can have a pleasant winter break on a shoestring which is only a couple of hours from London or 3 hours from Birmingham. Without planning, you risk spending three days watching rain dribble down the window of your holiday cottage.
The key, of course, is the weather. Even with the Isle of Wight’s sunny climate, you can expect at least some rain on about 17 days in January and 13 days in February.
Average temperatures are slightly above the mainland, but still pretty cold so it’s a case of wrapping up and moving as if you are competing in a powerwalking competition.
Keep an eye on the five day forecast (or less reliable 10 day forecast if you’re a gambler) and pick one of the Island’s golden winter weekends when the sun is shining and the skies are blue.
With a whiff of sunshine the Isle of Wight’s beaches are glorious for bracing winter walks. Parking on the Island’s esplanades is generally free off-season and dog walkers can roam free (most of the busy beaches are dog-free zones in summer). Most of the beachfront pubs and restaurants stay open and you won’t be queueing behind a family with 12 children dithering over ice cream flavours.
A few tourist attractions stay open with limited hours, but the real attraction is the outdoors. Try the walk along the long esplanade from Sandown to Shanklin, or between Bonchurch and Ventnor when the waves are crashing against the sea wall. If it’s not too windy, follow the coastal path along the unspoilt south west cliffs and carry on to the Needles if you are feeling fit. This January, there’s a winter weekend walking festival with various organised routes.
And for fellow bargain hunters, here’s the clincher – Isle of Wight winter holidays can cost about a quarter of the summertime equivalent.
During Cowes Week in August, a car journey to the Isle of Wight can cost more than £150, but in winter you can expect to pay about £50-£70 or some big hotels will throw in the ferry for free.
The biggest saving though is with accommodation when most holiday homeowners drop their prices to less than half the summertime peak. Most are also more flexible with letting you book for a last minute long weekend rather than a full week.
I recently did a price comparison of holiday parks on the Isle of Wight and found that a week's accommodation and ferry in a holiday park for 4 people was £255 in winter, or £952 in summer. If you can split the price between four, you’re paying £9 per person, per night including the ferry.
Don’t get me wrong – the Isle of Wight is at its glorious best from Easter to September but if the summer seems a long way away then I’d get checking that weather forecast…
Bestival's decision to pack up its fancy dress box and move to Dorset is bad news for the Isle of Wight. There's no point sugarcoating it. A few residents will enjoy the quiet, but most people saw the benefits of a world class festival at Robin Hill.
It's bad news economically but it's a big loss culturally too. Organisers seemed to make a real effort to include local artists and organisations onstage. For an unknown local artist, even an 11am slot in front of a few hungover revellers was a coup.
I wish Bestival all the best, I really do, but I still believe the Isle of Wight offers more quirky festivals per square mile than anywhere outside of London.
There are still two massive festivals, of course.
Let's not forget that over the last 15 years the Isle of Wight Festival has attracted Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, REM, The Strokes...you get the idea. In 2017, Rod Stewart and Arcade Fire will be added to the list.
In recent years the Isle of Wight Festival has also become a much more rounded festival with curiosities and sideshows sprawling into the adjacent fields rather than just a couple of stages to gawp at.
And then there's Cowes Week, the world's largest yachting regatta of its kind with 8500 sailors who race around the Solent. It also attracts 90,000 other visitors - most of whom know nothing about sailing but happily turn up their collars and enjoy the Pimms and parties.
Bubbling under are a dozen smaller festivals on the Isle of Wight which are gradually growing in reputation and popularity. I'm not sure any of them will ever grow as big as Bestival's peak but several have the potential to grow and they have a charming vibe which it's hard to maintain once you reach a certain size.
There are several specialist music festivals, including Rhythmtree, which was originally a celebration of the didgeredoo, presumably until someone realised that it was perhaps a little too niche. There's another one for jazz fans, a folk and blues festival, a 1980s retro weekend and one themed around VW campervans.
A festival with perhaps the biggest potential to grow is VFringe, which takes the free-for-all spirit of the Edinburgh Festival and thrusts it into the pretty Victorian seaside resort of Ventnor. I'm especially fond of it because it was started by a group of local youngsters during a recent cultural renaissance in the town, rather than by an events company with a money making agenda.
There's a literary festival, a festival celebrating the Isle of Wight's love of garlic, a walking festival, a vintage sailing festival and (inexplicably) a Scottish themed festival.
The Isle of Wight is also home to the UK's oldest carnival (in Ryde) which was once visited by Queen Victoria. I like to imagine she sat on the back of a tractor surrounded by lightbulbs waving unenthusiastically at the crowds, although history is a little sketchy on the facts.
So, farewell Bestival, enjoy your mainland life, I hope the glitterball will fit on the ferry.
I'd like to apologise unreservedly for any distress caused by my appalling predictions for Isle of Wight Festival 2017.
Today's announcement of Run DMC and DJ David Guetta as Friday headliners was nowhere on my radar...and nor was Arcade Fire (Saturday)...or Rod Stewart (Sunday). Hmmm.
In 2014 and 2015 I did OK and predicted a couple of headliners. In 2016 I did pretty badly and in 2017 I was about as accurate as those pollsters who confidently predicted Vote Remain and Hillary Clinton would be victorious.
So, let's just assume that for 2018 my usual techniques of listening to interviews and looking at tour dates won't work.
I'm going to try three new techniques instead, right here, right now and give my predictions for 2018.
Prediction technique 1: The CD grab
OK, first up is a simple technique you can try at home if you are over the age of 23 and still own physical copies of music. As you might imagine, it involves grabbing three CDs with your eyes closed.
Take care not to knock over your wobbly CD stand with your vision impaired thrusting motion. Also be wary of dust.
Right, I can exclusively reveal that the headliners for Isle of Wight Festival 2018 will be:
As you can see, this technique is a good'n with Nat King Cole fitting nicely into the 'heritage' slot filled in recent years by The Who and Neil Young. Smashing Pumpkins would fit nicely, seeing as Pearl Jam headlined not so long ago. Not quite sure how BRMB would go down, but at least they are still performing.
There's a slight issue that Nat King Cole has been dead since 1965, but Queen managed to headline successfully in 2016.
Prediction technique 2: The keyboard whack
The second technique is fairly self explanatory - a good old fashioned whack to the keyboard on Spotify.
The first whack produced "sdagrSG", but we'll exclude that one. From the whacks which somehow actually produced an artist, I can confidently predict the headliners at Isle of Wight Festival 2018 will be:
Well how about that? Saturday's headliner seems like a solid prediction which would fit in nicely. Friday's headliner might not be a household name but it fits nicely with the opening night having a dance vibe. Sunday's headliner - er, well, something to attract a new audience perhaps?
Prediction technique 3: The up and coming names
My final technique may actually have some chance of being right - picking three names at random from the BBC's sound of 2017 longlist.
So, the headliners in 2018 will be:
You may mock me now, but I'll be the one laughing when everyone is singing along to Stefflon Don on Saturday night in June 2018. You just wait...
I'll be honest, I'm not a Rod Stewart fan.
I don't own any of his albums, I've never seen him live and I could probably only name a handful of his songs. And the chances are I'd get the names a bit wrong.
But I still think Rod Stewart is an excellent Sunday night headliner for the Isle of Wight Festival 2017 for three reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly - my Mum has heard of him. This may not sound like a great endorsement but it's hard to exaggerate my mother's lack of interest in popular culture. If it's not been featured on Countryfile or The Archers then it might as well not exist. But I when told her about the Sunday night headliner, she paid attention and said "Really, Rod Stewart?". Seriously, that's not bad at all.
Secondly, Rod Stewart fits very well into the semi-tradition of the Isle of Wight Festival featuring a big name heritage act on the Sunday night. In 2004 we had David Bowie, 2007 had The Rolling Stones, 2008 had The Police, 2009 had Neil Young, 2010 had Paul McCartney, 2012 had Bruce Springsteen, 2015 had Fleetwood Mac and 2016 had Queen + Adam Lambert.
Thirdly, Rod Stewart has never played the Isle of Wight Festival before (feel free to correct me if you think he played with one of his 60s bands, but I'm pretty sure he didn't).
Personally, I much prefer to see bands appearing for the first time, even if it's not my favourite artist. It encourages people to attend the Festival who haven't before, and there's a fair chance they will come back either to see the Isle of Wight in all its summertime beauty or to join in the fun and games at a future festival.
It's also nice to add another name to the remarkable lists of acts who have come across for the Festival in recent years, as depicted on these cups recently.
Right then...who's going to headline Friday?...
We had something of a one-off summer this year. I took several weeks off work and we spent the time swanning around the Isle of Wight, eating out when we could and general living it up.
Sorry, I know that’s a really annoying thing to be harping on about in November when the summer seems a long, long time away.
Hang on in there guys, the sun will shine again.
One of the final evening outings of the summer season was one of the best.
Normally we default to Hanover Point when we aren’t sure which beach to visit, or when time is tight as it’s one of the nearest to us. At one stage we referred to it as The Beach, as if there we no others.
On this occasion, I was without the family so took the opportunity to visit the Compton end of the beach with an old chum. Back in the day we had a bit of routine, which may reveal where my money saving ideals come from.
My Dad would drop us all off at the gate opposite Compton Farm and we would start the walk down to the beach through the field of cows and down the many steep steps.
Dad would continue driving to the car park at the top of the Military Road, since it was free, and would then walk through a different field and meet us on the beach.
The whole thing probably saved us a quid each time (this was the 90s) but over the years it paid for my wedding.
And so I felt overwhelming nostalgic walking through the field and down the steep steps, thinking of my Dad (who is no longer with us) and realising that the main reason we took this odd route rather than parking at Hanover Point was only partly because of the money it saved.
I can now appreciate that the Compton end is far superior, with glorious views as you walk down the steps which are dangerously distracting. At the bottom, the beach is far quieter and the cliffs more spectacular. The beach is sandier without as many rocks on the seabed to trip over.
It was a lovely summer’s evening and there were three other people on the beach, including one person I knew (this is the Isle of Wight after all). We pondered where everyone was, why there weren’t huge crowds capturing the sunset and the waves on their smartphones – or perhaps even enjoying it with their eyes.
The extra effort of reaching Compton Bay (as opposed to Hanover Point) is certainly part of the reason, but I think it’s also because the Isle of Wight has quite so many glorious beaches considering its relatively small size. My top 5 beaches is almost entirely different to my wife’s, and to be honest, mine changes pretty regularly anyway.
You can be fairly sure that if you head over to the Compton end at this time of year you’ll have to yourself. Just take care on those steps…
I'm a bit of an addict of discount codes and vouchers, to the extent that I feel I've failed if I pay full price for anything. My ideal scenario involves stacking several vouchers on top of each other so that I'm being paid to take something off the company's hands.
So, for the last couple of years I've been channeling that enthusiasm by posting discount codes for Isle of Wight ferry travel, most of which come from fellow voucher fans who have spotted something in the back of the Radio Times or the National Trust Magazine and kindly get in touch.
Most Isle of Wight ferry voucher codes have lots of restrictions, whereby you can't use them on the weekend of theIsle of Wight Festival or Bestival or they are only valid outside of school holidays. Others run out once a certain number of journeys have been booked.
So you can imagine my delight when Red Funnel offered to stick a booking widget on my ferries pages (and at the bottom of this page) with 10% off all year round, without complicated restrictions and clauses. It works for cars to or from Southampton/East Cowes and it also works if you are bringing a caravan.
OK, so there are sometimes deals around which will beat that discount and I'd always recommend scrolling down on our ferry guide to see what else is around. For example, Red Funnel often do 15% or 20% off, but it's usually limited to certain dates and it requires a paper voucher. If you can stump up £1000 for a Red Funnel prepaid Travelcard then you'll get a better deal (20% off generally). Wightlink also have deals, such as theirTesco Clubcard offer.
The main restriction on the 10% discount is that you can't stack it with another discount. Equally, you'll sometimes find it is cheaper to get your accommodation provider to book for you, such as one of the many holiday parks which do a bundle deal.
Anyway, this 10% deal will save you somewhere between £5 and £20 on every booking by my guesstimate.
So, please use it, share the link with your family, milkman, GP or anyone else who will listen.
It’s around this time of year that the majority of the Isle of Wight’s tourist attractions shut up shop for the winter. A fair few stay open all year round (see our winter guide) but most decide to put the lid back on the mint choc chip and have a holiday themselves.
And let’s be honest, English seaside holidays in winter can be a bit hard going, particularly with children.
However, I’ve confidently said on several occasions that there are significant advantages – such as not seeing another soul, parking for free and the cost being a fraction of summer holidays.
But how much cheaper is it really? I set myself the challenge of finding the cheapest Isle of Wight holiday for a week, for a family of four (two adults, two children). I assumed both children were pre-school so could travel in term time.
In the height of summer I've seen return ferry fares as high as £200 for a car full of people, although there are usually discounts if you do a bit of research and aren't rigidly stuck to one time. I searched for a week in late November 2016 and found Red Funnel offering a week on the Island with a car for £62.04, once you'd factored in a discount code.
I reckon you could get that cheaper if another offer came along, as I've certainly paid less than that in winter, but let's plough on (there was a £50 return offer a while ago, and there's a £35 short break offer which has been running for a while - see our ferries guide). Wightlink was slightly more expensive on this occasion.
And what about accommodation?
If you're completely barmy then you could try camping in November at Nodes Point for £39 for a week. It says you could bring up to 6 people, although you'd have lost a couple to frostbite by the end of the week.
If you're slightly less mad, you can get a bronze caravan for up to six people for £193 (at Nodes Point). Even if there are only four of you that works out as £6.89 each per night.
So, your grand total for the week is £255.03 for 4 people.
The cheapest equivalent holiday in August came out as £807 for the accommodation and £145 for the ferry - a total of £952.
So, how much cheaper is an Isle of Wight holiday in winter? Well, based on my 10 minute study, I'd say about £700.
Right, where are my long johns? I'm off on holiday...
If you want more on low cost hotels, holiday parks and camping on the Isle of Wight, we've got a guide to the Isle of Wight's cheapest accommodation.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog
Tales of Isle of Wight days out, attractions and ferry discounts from a Wightophile