And so, Sunday arrived, along with a feeling of sadness that the Isle of Wight Festival would soon be over for another year, combined with a wee bit of relief that we could get an early night on Monday.
The main act we were looking forward to on Sunday was not Biffy Clyro, Keane or Richard Ashcroft, though I have a level of interest in all of those.
No, the big event for us was Bjorn Again at 1.35pm on the Main Stage.
For the last year, the first Mamma Mia soundtrack has been going round and round in my car, at the request of the children. They've never seen the film (I'm not sure they're ready for the saucy bits) but they still insist on every car journey involving Honey Honey and a medley of other Abba hits.
You'd think this repetition might be a bit much, but I've decided to embrace it. Whenever one of them was on the verge of a public tantrum over the weekend, I distracted them with a reminder that we would 'soon be seeing the Mamma Mia band'.
They were so excited by this, that I decided not to explain that it was a covers band. I've since wondered if I could get away with persuading them that Blackgang Chine is actually Disneyland, but perhaps that would be pushing it.
I danced awkwardly with the two year old as Bjorn Again worked their way through Dancing Queen, Take A Chance et al. Child one could probably have watched for another three hours, but it soon came to an end and we spent a happy afternoon trying on princess dresses in the Kidzone. Kudos to the dad who was there at the same time as us and managed to squeeze into a Snow White outfit designed for a nine year old.
Most remarkable in 2019 is that the weather held out. Sure, we had the odd smattering of rain but the site remained habitable thanks to a combination of Isle of Wight sunshine and lashings of wood chippings.
Granny Guru is thoughtful enough to live in a house near the festival, and also willing to be on babysitting duty for the weekend, so we manoevured the children to bed and returned in time for a final evening.
As Richard Ashcroft led us in a singalong of Bittersweet Symphony I began to get a little emotional about the whole thing. I didn't exactly start weeping in front of Mrs Guru, but I did feel a whiff of pride that the Isle of Wight manages to host once of the biggest and best festivals in the country, despite being a rather small place which didn't even get an escalator until the mid-90s.
Many of the UK's other big festivals from my youth have moved or disappeared (V Festival, Bestival and T in the Park most notably) but the Isle of Wight Festival has kept on bringing culture, jobs and attention to the Isle of Wight for which it deserves a heap of credit.
Good job, Isle of Wight Festival. Good job (*sorry, got something in my eye*)
Here's one final selection of the 'official' photos from Isle of Wight Festival, featuring the likes of Richard Ashcroft, Biffy Clyro and Madness.
Here's our selection of the official photos from day two of the Isle of Wight Festival 2019, featured Fatboy Slim, George Ezra and a couple of astronauts.
Credit: Isle of Wight Festival
I'm always impressed with older people who are still going to festivals.
I don't mean people in their 50s and 60s, since that's neither old nor unusual nowadays.
I'm talking about the couples in their 80s who are still turning up and barging their way past you whilst holding two pints in plastic cups to get slightly nearer the front for Fatboy Slim.
I like to think I'll be one of those people, although I've got to say it's not quite going to plan.
Mrs Guru and I have accepted that we generally need to get to bed by 10pm every night to allow for the usual 6am wake-ups and the occasional midnight call to deal with someone who is too hot, too cold or has an urgent question about why the sky is blue.
And so it caused a bit of a hoohaa when we realised that one of my favourite acts - Garbage - were due on stage at 11.45pm on Saturday night.
"That's when they start?" asked Mrs Guru, who was doing calculations in her head about what time we'd get back and what time the children would wake up.
We concluded that Mrs Guru would sit this one out and I headed to the site to meet up with friends.
The evening raced by with George Ezra putting in a decent performance despite being 'dosed up on anti inflammatories' after a jogging mishap (one of the more wholesome drug-related stories you'll hear from a headliner).
Rather confusingly, the headliner wasn't on last, which reminded me of the decision to name the third tier of professional football as 'League One'.
After a few minutes of 80s anthems in the Electro Love tent we headed back to the Main Stage for Fatboy Slim who pumped out some banging beats like, er, an efficiently engineered Victorian pumping machine (note to self, don't apply for a job at NME).
Then it was time for Garbage, appearing at the festival for the first time. The band played a festival-friendly set, rattling through most of their best-known songs for just over an hour. In my head, I was 15 again, even if my body was telling me that it would really rather be tucked up in bed by now.
By the time I crept into bed, it was 2am. Not-enough hours later I was sat on the sofa watching CBeebies. Still, I concluded it was worth the struggle.
Perhaps when I'm in my 80s I'll be able to have a lie-in...
My photography skills are a little hit and miss. I occasionally get lucky, but only in the same way that a monkey with a camera would eventually produce something brilliant.
Thankfully, the good people at the Isle of Wight Festival have given us permission to share some of the highlights.
Here are Friday's photos:
Credit: Isle of Wight Festival
John Giddings must have had an exceedingly sore neck by the time we got to Friday at the Isle of Wight Festival 2019.
Throughout Thursday and Friday, the Isle of Wight's weather was teasingly indecisive. The festival's organiser has said in the past that he spends the preceding week constantly looking up for signs of rain which might pour on the festival.
I remained confident that the rain would stay away, based on a couple of the more favourable forecasts and a blind belief that the sun always shines on the Isle of Wight.
Sure, we had a couple of short showers in the campers' field on Thursday night and Friday morning (the only showers most people will have over the weekend) but by the time the main arena opened at 2pm, the weather was spot on.
For the first time, we were attempting to take the whole family, including the darling daughters who are two and six. We are not the kind of parents who climb Kilimanjaro with young children, so this was a big deal for us.
It started start badly, with the youngest falling over her feet in the queue and then taking great offence at having to wear a wrist band. Thankfully, she was calmed down by a tasteless rice cake and we were free to explore the site.
I've said this before, but the Isle of Wight Festival has grown massively since the early noughties. I seem to recall (perhaps not completely accurately) that in the early 2000s, there were only half a dozen food outlets. The queues crawled all the way back to Nettlestone and they all offered a limited choice of chips or fries.
Nowadays, the site offers trendy food I've never heard of and several rides that you shouldn't really go on after eating a spicy meal. There are many more stages than there used to be, and then there's the Kidz Zone where we spent most of Friday afternoon.
Child one and two both joined in with the parachute games in the Kidz Zone without embarrassing us and then we spent a fair amount of time wandering the site whilst child one asked a series of questions I didn't know the answer to ("why is that man wearing an orange suit?" "why has that man got glitter in his beard?")
Granny Guru lives quite near the site, so after a couple of hours we decided to return home, put the children to bed and then come back in the evening without them.
And so we returned, just Mrs Guru and I, free to sip prosecco and enjoy the festival.
It had been many years since Mrs Guru had been to the festival, so I began by taking her up the big wheel (ooerr...) whilst Lily Allen was onstage. The big wheel is an essential part of the festival experience for me, as it gives a chance to see the scale of the whole thing, and it's not massively expensive at £5, considering the location.
After failing to meet up with some friends and doing a little more wandering, we settled down for the Courteeners followed by Noel Gallacher's High Flying Birds.
The sun slowly set over the River Medina, I ate some curly fries with barbecue sauce and Noel Gallacher sang Wonderwall.
What more could you want in your backyard, eh?
One of the (many) things I like about the Isle of Wight is that it works well for a completist, like myself. It’s feasible to set yourself a challenge such as sailing around the entire 70 mile-ish coastline, walking all 500 miles of footpath or shopping in every Poundland. Such things are less practical on the mainland.
Our current challenge is to complete all nine of the Treasure Trails on the Isle of Wight. Last summer we completed Yarmouth, Ventnor, Cowes and Godshill, so we are nearly halfway there.
The issue is that we’ve now done most of the shorter and more accessible Treasure Trails. We are still at the pushchair and whinging stage so clambering over styles and along muddy tracks is a little tricky.
For trail number five (not to be confused with Mambo Number Five) we attempted a route around one of my favourite parts of the Isle of Wight – Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down.
The trail started at the Freshwater Bay pay and display car park. I was raised to spend two or three hours looking for free parking to save 50p, so we parked on the road nearby to begin our hunt.
For newcomers, the idea is that you pay £6.99 for a list of clues and then spend two or three hours wandering along a route and learning some local history. If you find you’re spending too long staring at a brick wall in the search for an answer, you can text a number and they’ll reply with a clue.
On this occasion, there were three adults, a two year old and a five year old taking part. The two year old was in a pushchair and after the first three clues decided that she would very much like to begin her lunch. It was half past ten, which in my book is practically 11 o'clock, which is basically lunch time if you're waking up early.
So, we picked up the pace and rattled through the first few clues whilst child two tucked into some overpriced, salt-free snacks contained in conversational packaging.
The route took us along the seafront, then towards the Island's only thatched church and on to Dimbola Lodge.
By this point we had completed half of the clues in about an hour. Child two had eaten her entire lunch and child one had just realised that she was on a walk and that, as such, her legs should feel tired right about now.
We looked at each other, looked at the steep climb up to Tennyson Down, and pondered whether we could make it. The route ahead wasn't the familiar path, so there was a high risk of a scene where we ended up with a pushchair stuck in the mud and tears all round.
On the other hand, we had already done half the clues pretty quickly and it wasn't even noon.
We mutually concluded that this was the end of our Treasure Trail for today.
We returned back to the beach and ate the remains of our lunch whilst listening to the stones being dragged up and down the beach.
Still, we had made a good start to trail number five, and no-one had had a tantrum. Sometimes you just need to know your limits...
There’s a familiar pattern to the conversations in our house about days out on the Isle of Wight.
First, Mrs Guru will ask what I would like to do today.
I will then say that it isn’t really a question of what I would like to do, but what will keep a 2 year old and a 5 year old happy (which in turn will keep the adults happy).
I’ll say that I would really like to find a hidden beach or dine out somewhere fancy, but that what we should really do is to sit uncomfortably on a see-saw whilst secretly eating a packet of Nice 'n Spicy NikNaks from a coat pocket.
And so we headed off for Sandham Gardens in Sandown, to see the recent renovations which have been taking place over the winter. We first found the playground when child one was still in nappies, but it’s changed a fair bit since then.
The two main upgrades at the site are at the playground and the minigolf. The toddlers playground at Sandham Gardens has been given a decent facelift, with the equipment either being replaced or tidied up.
The Olympic themed gym equipment seems to have vanished, at least temporarily. Hopefully it will reappear somewhere else as it was a nice feature, even if it didn’t appear to be as regularly used as the other equipment nearby.
The other upgrade is the new Dinosaur themed minigolf - Dino Islands - which has replaced the simple minigolf at Sandham Gardens. The concrete curves have been replaced with dinosaurs which would fit in at Blackgang Chine and a centrepiece volcano. It was still in the building phase when we visited about 10 days ago, but opened just in time for the glorious weather we had at the Easter Bank Holiday.
There is also an improved go-kart track for younger children which costs about a fiver (even my weak stomach could handle the speed) and there are plans for new beach huts.
Just over the road is another building site, where Wight City and Colonel Bogey’s nightclub once stood. As much as we enjoyed Bowlingo in the building’s arcade, it is good to see it gone as it seemed like a terrible waste of a lovely stretch of coastline.
Despite the Spring sunshine, Sandham Gardens felt colder than the milk aisle in Sainsburys so we eventually gave up and headed to Brown’s Golf Course cafe.
From the outside, it’s nothing special but inside it’s a lovely light space which is big enough to cope with a large number of noisy children. More importantly, there’s a good choice of children’s games so we achieved one of those rare moments where both children were playing happily.
“Don’t interrupt them” I whispered to Mrs Guru as she returned from the toilets.
After three slurps of my latte, the younger one was asking for food, but I had at least had a few precious moments of holiday bliss.
I find it hard to behave myself at formal functions. It's not that I mean to cause trouble, I just tend to drop canapes on the waiter's foot or choke on an ice cube like I'm starring in an Adam Sandler movie.
Thankfully - for Mrs Guru's sake - I avoided such embarrassments at the opening of the Auckland House Hotel in Shanklin this week. I was wearing one of those ridiculous fake shirt and jumper combinations, but no-one seemed to notice.
The old Auckland House guest house was bought a couple of years ago and has been completely gutted and redeveloped by a company called Carlauren (the same people currently redeveloping the Ocean Hotel in Sandown). At one stage there were plans to turn it into a '5 star support care hotel' but that plan changed and it's now opened as a posh hotel which is open to anyone.
The Isle of Wight has about a dozen hotels which I'd consider 'luxury', but Shanklin mostly offers guest houses and B&Bs so the Auckland House Hotel will gives the town something a bit different for those who want luxuries like valet parking and chauffeurs within a classic seaside resort.
Being nosey, I asked for a tour and we were shown round some of the two-dozen smart new rooms, the restaurant and the hot tub. I didn't bring my trunks, otherwise I'd have dived in head first.
Mrs Guru, who knows about these things, made lots of approving noises at the decor and told me that it was 'on trend'. I was a bit busy stuffing my face on canapes, but I got the gist of what she was saying. When I checked, a night for two was about £110 on Expedia.
For what it's worth, I'm really pleased to see investment in Sandown and Shanklin, both of which feel like they are on the up. Besides the Carlauren developments, the area around Sandham Gardens is also being jazzed up with a dinosaur-themed minigolf, beach huts and go karts.
Hopefully there'll be plenty more grand openings and canapes to come.
A few years ago, whilst working in radio in Somerset, a PR company came to me with a news story about a new board game.
If I had lawyers they would at this point ask me to make very clear that it wasn't the company behind this Destination Isle of Wight game. It wasn't.
Anyway, the company told us they were launching a game and wanted to do a poll to decide which local town to base it around.
Being an idiot, I spent several weeks promoting the poll, giving the board game a great big heap of free publicity.
When the poll finally closed, the PR company revealed that they'd had a change of heart and would be releasing a countywide edition instead. The public votes had meant nothing but they were grateful to me for doing my bit.
A week later I spoke to a friend working at a newspaper in the north east who said he had been taken in by the same 'competition' which had been changed at the last minute in exactly the same way.
I still kick myself that I didn't pick up on the PR company's dubious games earlier and hadn't taken the opportunity to take them to task live on air.
I've since held a slightly unfair suspicion of local board games and probably wouldn't have bothered with Destination Isle of Wight unless I'd been given it as a birthday present. (Let me make clear again that the board game I mentioned earlier wasn't this one).
With a couple of hours to fill at 6am I gave it a go, along with my early rising 5 year old.
The general idea is that you play the part of an Isle of Wight taxi driver. Every time you fulfil a request to drop someone off at Blackgang Chine, Shanklin Chine or wherever you pick up some cash and perhaps a tip.
There are added complications such as red lights, speeding fines and log books. To really get into the swing of things I switched on Talk Sport, told my daughter my poorly thought out views on Brexit and kept looking over my shoulder.
In my view, a good board game is a balance between making it complicated enough that you aren't just rolling dice and plodding around a circle whilst not making it so complicated that the rule book resembles a photocopier manual.
Destination Isle of Wight was just about simple enough that my impatient competitor let me read the first half of the rules. I quickly realised that some bits could be dropped so we attempted a basic version which was just about right (the game is really aimed at 8+).
And so we drove our taxis around the Island, picking up fares ranging from £30 and upwards. Whoever paid £100 to visit the Isle of Wight College must have been unfamiliar with the local currency.
A few of the attractions had closed since the game was made (Seaview Wildlife Encounter, Colemans Farm) and some other new ones were missing (Tapnell Farm Park most notably). This gave it a melancholic feeling as I imagined myself dropping off a family of holidaymakers at an abandoned attraction before skidding away in my Ford Mondeo.
After an hour I was getting hungry so I discreetly removed a big wadge of the cards to speed things along.
Half an hour later we were involved in a frantic race to get our cabs back to the taxi rank. I put my metaphorical foot down as I raced to my final stop - LA Bowl in Ryde - whilst my contestant headed for Waltzing Waters (Rest In Peace).
I punched the air as my double six got me back home first and gave me the £250 bonus. I then remembered that it's much easier to lose a board game with a 5 year old.
Luckily, she won anyway thanks to an earlier triple drop off at Cineworld, Carisbrooke Castle and the Visit Isle of Wight office.
After consulting with my contestant we've given the games a thumbs up, particularly if you simplify it a bit and ensure that the youngest player wins.
You can buy Destination: Isle of Wight from Amazon, and no-doubt from various local retailers on the Island.
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