I have a bad habit of not emptying out my coat pockets. On the first day of winter, I will often pull a coat of the cupboard, feel an odd shape and say "Oh, that's where my sunglasses went!".
If you're returning from an Isle of Wight holiday with children then I guarantee you'll find these find these five things in your pockets:
1. Yellow tickets from Shanklin's Summer Arcade
If the weather isn't living up to those Isle of Wight pictures you saw on Instagram then you'll find the crowds gathered in Shanklin's Summer Arcade. For a single pound you can enjoy up to three minutes of fun, throwing balls at a clown's face or playing a giant keyboard.
You'll be rewarded amply with a splurge of yellow tickets which can be exchanged for an array of wonderful plastic souvenirs. Within a few minutes you'll find that collecting yellow tickets has become more important to you than eating or breathing.
We collected more than 600 yellow tickets over three visits recently and exchanged them for, er, two squishy balls.
Still, I enjoyed playing the giant Space Invaders game and Mrs Guru enjoyed wasting £5 on the grabber machines. She likes to explain how they are rigged and then goes ahead and plays them anyway. Good times.
By my guesstimate, I'd say that the two yellow tickets left in my pocket are worth as much as two thirds of a penny. I'll be clinging on to them for my next visit.
2. A crumpled Map of Blackgang Chine
The first time I took my oldest daughter to Blackgang Chine, she was scared of everything. She was probably three, but she only really enjoyed the swings and the talking bins. Thankfully, Blackgang Chine is free for under fours.
Regardless, she spent the next month showing friends and relatives her map of Blackgang Chine. The map became so worn that I had to repair it with Sellotape.
"That's the Cowboyland that I didn't like...and that's the Princess Castle that I didn't like...and that's the Dinosaurland that I didn't like" she told my mother, repeatedly.
One day, I will collect every Blackgang Chine map ever produced and ask if they'll display them at the Museum of Island History.
3. Unused Supersaver Tickets from Alum Bay
I love a day out to The Needles and Alum Bay. The views are smashing and there's something for most ages, including a carousel for little ones, a chairlift for slightly older ones and a box of fudge or a nice sit down for great-grandads. It's free to get in, apart from the cost of parking (£6 in 2022). The National Trust's Old Battery is excellent if you want to avoid the school trips and funfair.
I also admire a business model which sells tiny containers of sand on an Island full of sandy beaches. That really is up there with selling ice in Antarctica.
The Supersaver Tickets are something else I always get sucked into. Each ride and attraction requires a few £1 tokens, but if you buy a book of 12 then you only pay £9. We always end up with two or three leftovers and then lose them before our next visit.
When we visited The Needles three weeks ago, I asked a member of staff at the small Co-op in Freshwater if they would accept them as a form of payment. He just looked a bit confused.
4. A priceless fossil/a worthless stone
Thankfully we are past the days of the children insisting on bringing a bucket full of shells and stones back from the beach. Mrs Guru would usually allow them to fill up the bucket to "keep the peace" and then I would discreetly put them back on the beach a couple of days later once they had forgotten. I feared that Freshwater Bay would run out of stones if every visitor took home a bucketful.
Nowadays, we tend to pick up something which looks kind of like a fossil and then hold onto it just in case we've discovered a new species. There's no logic to this, as it just sits in the boot of my car for six months whereas if we'd left it behind then a geologist might have found it and placed it in a museum.
However hard you try, you will end up with sand in your pockets after an Isle of Wight holiday.
You'll also find it in your car's footwell (up to your ankles), in your suitcase, in your roofbox and between your toes. Remarkably, you'll find sand everywhere even if you don't step onto a sandy beach. No one knows how this happens.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog