Here’s a conversation that no-one has ever had:
Hairdresser: “Going anywhere nice on your holidays this year?”
Yet despite this, I recently unearthed some tourism figures which seem to say that Nottinghamshire attracts as many holidaymakers as the Isle of Wight. Admittedly the Isle of Wight is a lot smaller, and the numbers don’t quite tally with some others I’ve seen, but these are legitimate figures from Visit England, not some fictional survey created to sell holidays.
The stats say that 660,000 people per year visit the Isle of Wight as holidaymakers compared to 630,000 in Nottinghamshire (page 112 if you want to check my working). And these aren’t just people reluctantly visiting Aunt Maud in Retford, they are actually planning a holiday, sticking a roof box on the car and announcing “Come on kids, we’re off to Nottinghamshire!”.
Now, I have no great objection to Nottinghamshire, it’s a county I know fairly well and it’s a nice enough place, but here are 5 reasons why a holiday on the Isle of Wight is a far better option:
1. The Nottinghamshire coastline...
The Isle of Wight has 67 miles of actual real life beaches, with proper sand and water and everything. There are beaches for surfing (Compton Bay), kayaking (St Helens), coasteering (Freshwater), rockpooling (Bembridge), kitesurfing (Brook), swimming (Sandown amongst others), sunset viewing (Gurnard), eating chips and discussing the good old days (Ventnor), beach football (Appley) and sandcastle building (Shanklin).
The closest Nottinghamshire ever came to a beach was a pile of sand dumped in Nottingham city centre as a summer ‘attraction’. Oh, and there was a stabbing at the fake beach as well.
2. Our historic characters actually existed
OK, so perhaps Robin Hood might have existed, but no-one seems too sure who he actually was as Robert was a very common name, and so was the surname Hood. There are numerous places which claim he lived there , and there’s hardly enough evidence to name an airport after him or build a whole tourism industry around him.
In comparison, on the Isle of Wight you can see Queen Victoria’s death-bed at Osborne House or sit in her pew at St Mildred’s Church in Whippingham. You can see where King Charles I was held captive in a castle, or you can even see the village shop in Chale that was opened by Alan Titchmarsh. Oh, and we've got loads of dinosaurs too.
3. The sun always shines on the Isle of Wight
Perhaps not, but it certainly shines more on the Isle of Wight than it does in Nottinghamshire. Nottingham gets an average of 1440 hours of sunshine per year, whereas Sandown gets 1923 hours per year.
For those who get a headache from looking at big numbers, that's an average of an extra 80 minutes of sunshine every day.
4. Our festivals are headlined by people my mum has heard of
In the last few years, the Isle of Wight Festival has been headlined by The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Coldplay and Red Hot Chilli Peppers (I could go on). Nottingham’s main music festival was headlined by Tom Odell and the Happy Mondays in 2014 There’s nothing wrong with either of those, by my test of a good festival is whether my mum has heard of the headliners. Tom Odell could knock on her door and sing a full set and she still wouldn’t know who he is.
And of course we’ve got Bestival, which is now about the same size as the Isle of Wight Festival and has recently included a tent for breastfeeding mothers, the world’s biggest glitterball, Snoop Dogg and Elton John. Now that’s what I call a festival.
We also have Cowes Week, which is an excellent opportunity to go sailing and drink Pimms, if that’s your sort of thing. If not, you can still watch the fireworks and mooch around looking for people wearing red trousers.
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