I felt a bit of an idiot in my shorts and tshirt on Appley Beach in Ryde. Everyone else was dressed as 17th century pirates so I must have stuck out like a sore thumb.
It was our first visit to Shipwreck Isle (which was two days in 2016 rather than just one) and most people had really gone to town. I was expecting the plastic eye patches and inflatable parrots you'd get at a New Year's Eve party but these were proper costumes which you felt people regularly wore at home whilst they sat on the sofa and watched Bargain Hunt with a bowl of Frosties.
We sat happily on the beach whilst a band performed what sounded like grunge sea shanties, before trying out various piratey beach games.
There were coconut shies which appeared to be giving out fruit as prizes (pirates were very aware of the value of five a day) and a buried treasure game which involved sticking a flag in the sand - the pirate equivalent of a needle in a haystack.
There was also some mock wedding ceremony involving the daughter of some Duke or something, though we were rather fixed on building a straight row of sandcastles at the time so I rather missed the conclusion. Finally we moved onto the decent playground at Appley to try out the multiple slides.
Alas, we didn't win the £100 buried treasure prize but I did have to chase my three year around the playground and drag her back to the car under protest - which is surely the sign that she's had a good day out?
I have few vices in life but I am guilty of spending far too long in the shower. Whole wars have been fought and governments have fallen in the time it takes me to carry out my daily ablutions. I missed the opening game of France '98 because my parents installed a new Mira 2000 Power Shower.
And so, I was sold on the accommodation at Tapnell Farm when I discovered that the shower in our log cabin was in the Premier League of such things. I think I was expecting one of those mouldy electric boxes on the wall that is akin to being urinated on by a horse. It was more like a steady torrent of warm water. I could have stayed in there all day, and I would have done if my wife hadn't banged on the door repeatedly.
Anyway, to back track a little, a friend invited us to spend a couple of days trying out the Glamping accommodation at Tapnell Farm recently and we went for the log cabin. They also have Safari Tents (Tom's Eco Lodges) and some pod type things but The Practical One (Mrs Guru) persuaded me that a log cabin would be better since it offered windows which could be blacked out for the little one, and a microwave for heating porridge.
My general conclusion whenever we've stayed in good quality self catering accommodation is that our own house has got far too much stuff in it. The log cabin had everything we needed (including wifi) without all the stuff we could cope without for a few days (a TV).
And the whole site has clearly been carefully curated, with neat little touches like an 'Honesty Shed' full of unmanned groceries and games and a caravan full of chickens which dispense eggs for your breakfast.
During our short stay we also made the most of being on the site of Tapnell Farm Park which currently has indoor play but will soon also have a petting zoo and other animals which have been adopted from Seaview Wildlife Encounter.
We ran out of good weather by our final evening, meaning that the view from our cabin of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival site at Afton was slightly misty, but still pretty stunning. So we sat in the lounge, peered out the window and drank a non-alcoholic beer. Good times.
My first attempt at Isle of Wight kayaking was moderately successful, with only a little nausea ruining an otherwise enjoyable trip into some smugglers' caves.
The second attempt had all the potential to be a complete disaster, considering that we were trying out an inflatable kayak for the first time, after an impulse purchase on Amazon a few weeks ago.
During our enthusiastic pumping on the beach at St Helen's we had gathered a small crowd of well-wishers, or perhaps spectators akin to those who go to motor racing to see crashes. Actually, I think they had made a similar impulse purchase in a sale and were keen for us to be the guinea pigs before they set sail themselves.
We soon discovered that the main risk at St Helen's is not so much going out of your depth and requiring a coastguard, but hitting a rock or a sandbank in the shallow waters. As we made our way round towards Priory Bay I dutifully took on the role of checking that we weren't about to puncture our rubbery hull, whilst my shipmate did the paddling.
With careful negotiation and much puffing we reached Priory Bay, one of my favourite beaches where we sat and took in the glory of our completed journey.
Our initial cheerleading team, who had watched the adventure unfold had walked round the headland to check we didn't drown and gave us a hearty wave on seeing our safe arrival.
"Have you come far?" asked another nosey onlooker (this is the Isle of Wight, after all, where talking to strangers on beaches is perfectly normal).
"St Helen's" we said, pointing to a spot about 100 metres away from our landing point.
The onlookers seemed to find that most amusing and could be heard chortling and guffawing for some time as they wandered away from us down the beach.
And so we returned to St. Helens, without having to call the coastguard once.
The only downside of course is deflating a wet kayak and getting it back inside the car, which I've got to admit was not all that pleasant.
Nonetheless, I'd call that a success and thanks to the tamer waters in the East Wight, I was even up to eating fish and chips in Seaview a few minutes later.
I'm never sure if Sunday at the Isle of Wight Festival should be called day 3 or day 4, since a fair few people arrived on Thursday and saw Status Quo making the most of three chords. Whichever day it was, Sunday saw another day of pleasantness at seaclose park with weather which couldn't quite make its mind up but wasn't bad enough to ruin the day.
Although festivals sell tickets largely based on the lineup, organisers of the Isle of Wight festival do deserve some credit for making the whole experience a lot more civilised than some competing events I've been to. Admittedly I didn't camp (mother's house is walking distance and she needed someone to water the tomatoes whilst she went to a wedding) but the whole site was still pretty immaculate even by Sunday afternoon. I've been to some festivals where you are wading through plastic cups and discarded chips by the final day. Many years ago, we found the Leeds Festival arena was barely distinguishable from a landfill site.
The main reason for the cleanliness at the Isle of Wight festival seems to be a simple system which rewards the return of empty cups. Lazy drinkers can happily drop their empties on the floor rather than searching for a bin amongst a crowd whilst enthusiastic children can make a small profit from spending the weekend as freelance litterpickers. I couldn't decide if I was impressed or disapproving of a few enterprising youngsters who were fishing empties out of bins and then returning them to a different bin to collect their reward. It felt similar to sticking your hand in to one of those shallow wishing wells and removing a fistful of change. Anyway, it's a small price to pay for a tidy field.
There's also a wholesome vibe created by the decision to offer free Festival entry to young children. I'm not quite ready to bring my little one to a festival but plenty of parents seem willing to give it a go, encouraged by the kids' area and a much less boozy atmosphere than I associate with some festivals. I quietly suspect that having their kids in tow makes a lot of festival-goers behave more like normal human beings rather than lads on a stag do in Prague.
Music wise, Mike + The Mechanics provided an unexpected highlight on Sunday. It is odd how bands you weren't all that bothered about seeing can be exactly the right sort of thing on the day.
Out and about there appeared to be an above average number of scantily clad women on stilts accompanied by dancers dressed as monkeys (the average number of such things being zero, of course).
So today we returned to work - slightly sunburnt, very tired and ever so determined to make it to the Festival again next year.
After Friday's happy discovery that I am still young enough to blend in at a Festival, Saturday provided further reassurances that in a world of change, some things remain the same.
Firstly, Iggy Pop is still acting like a topless cocker spaniel (as opposed to a fully clothed spaniel) and is utterly brilliant. Or as the NME would say, he is performing like the illegitimate lovechild of Iggy Pop and Iggy Pop – on acid. It certainly wasn’t his first Isle of Wight Festival, but it was the best I can remember.
Secondly, I am unable to watch Richard Ashcroft without singing along like a gurning idiot. On the walk back from the site I had a sudden realisation that I took a video almost exactly 10 years ago of a friend and I singing along to Bittersweet Symphony at the Festival with such gusto that I feared Richard Ashcroft himself might put down his microphone and politely ask us to hush down a little. Anyway, I’d kind of forgotten how good he is so it was a nice surprise to find that his material is still brilliant. I'd say his set was my highlight of the Festival.
Thirdly, The Who are still up to headlining a major Festival, as indeed they were more than a decade ago when also headlined (and of course they also played at the Festival in 1970).
Fourthly, England’s footballers will always disappoint you. Indeed, there was a feeling of déjà vu from the 2004 Festival as Russia scored in the final seconds of the match and a thousand fans forlornly walked off muttering under their breath whilst a couple of disproportionately passionate fans yelled abuse at a digital screen, presumably hoping their voices would travel across the water to France.
Finally, Angela Corr is still very good at pouting.
Saturday also offered other amusements and entertainments including Adam Ant, The Kills, Turin Brakes and just enough sunshine to create a few lobsters on Sunday.
Let’s hope the final day offers quite such a warm feeling.
I've got to go admit I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't the oldest person at the Isle of Wight Festival. Sure, there were plenty of cool kids holding selfie sticks and Snapchatting (?) but there were also loads of families with children and I saw several people that must have qualified for a winter fuel allowance. I might even go so far as saying I felt young, and we did conclude that we could get away with coming to the Festival for at least another 50 years.
The site is a whole lot bigger than I remember from my last visit, which admittedly has been a little while due to nappies and tantrums (not mine).
Saturday and Sunday's main stage lineups are of more interest to us than Friday's was, so we decided to have a formidable wander which was far more pleasant than my experience of Glastonbury when the site was so packed that walking in a straight line was hard work.
We stumbled across a few little quirks this year, including an elaborate piece of PR by British Airways involving a check in desk with hidden surprises in the marquee behind. Not sure if I missed the point, but my main takeaway was that British people will happily join a queue even if they have no idea what is at the end. Anyway, thanks for the free drink and the inflatable plane.
We arrived just too late for Busted (not sure if that was a relief or a disappointment), caught a bit of Jess Glynne who went down well, watched a bit more than we planned of the Sex Pi**ed Dolls and happily watched Gabrielle Aplin's set.
Around the time I would normally be heading to bed, the Stereophonics appeared for a jolly sing-song (you can tell I never wrote anything for NME...) before Faithless finished the night off with their 'son et lumiere'. It was so good I nearly stayed until the last song - maybe after a couple more nights I will be ready for a wild all nighter?
She's got a brand new car, looks like a jaguar, it's got leather seats, it's got a CD player, player, player, player...
It's been too long since my last Isle of Wight Festival, Father. Back in the day (by which i mean 2002 rather than 1968) I was a regular attendee but things slipped a little when the little one arrived. I know there are cool parents who take a one year old to a festival and still look like they are having a good time, but we are not those people.
I missed some belters - most memorably Pearl Jam whom I spent my teenage years adoring (well, some of their stuff anyway, not the whingey stuff). My mind couldn't quite cope with the fact that they were playing on my beloved Island but I wasn't there. Texts from a High School friend sending commiserations didn't go down well either.
Finally, we are returning to Seaclose Park and the teenage excitement is returning even if I will be feeling a little sleepy by nine-ish.
Thankfully, the organisers have taken my tastes into account pretty heavily this year with a load of bands from a time when I was reading Melody Maker and listening to cover discs.
Ocean Colour Scene, Richard Ashcroft, Feeder, The Wonderstuff, Reef, Turin Brakes and Cast will all offer the satisfying feeling that I am younger than the people on stage (I can confidently say the same about The Who and Iggy Pop as well).
There's also a great big list of bands who I have half heard of (The Kills, Twin Atlantic, Everything Everything) and others who have probably been top of the Pepsi Chart for the last month, but in my mind could well be served at one of the festival bars ("a bottle of Gutterdammerung please")
If previous festivals are anything to go by, the real highlights will be the slightly random things you stumble across whilst looking for something else.
If you see me, come and say hello - I'll be the one with the big grin and the Melody Maker t-shirt.
Sure, the Isle of Wight offers zorbing, paragliding, coasteering and the like. But any parent knows the likelihood of orchestrating anything quite so exciting during a normal day out with a toddler is remote.
Until the little one is less little I settle for the more mundane sport of looking for the Isle of Wight's best benches. The main rule is that it needs to be somewhere public and free rather than in someone's garden or inside Blackgang Chine.
Last year I confidently declared the number one spot belonged to the bench at the top of the Military Road with views of Compton Bay in one direction and towards Freshwater and Tennyson Down in the other. The bench is a little wobbly but the view is top notch - we thoroughly enjoyed our tin of Sainsburys lager and our tub of flapjack.
Last week I found another contender. The little one had fallen asleep in the car during an enormous detour we were taking so she could have a go on the carousel at The Needles. My wife had also fallen asleep, so my mother and I took the opportunity to walk towards the Needles Old Battery.
A little way along was the bench in question with views of Alum Bay and many miles of nothingness beyond. The Needles often has more wind than our house on Christmas Day afternoon, so needless to say it was pretty blowy up there but it was still a spectacular moment.
So, if you happen to meet a member of the Isle of Wight National Trust Association - who stuck the bench there in 2013 - please pass on my thanks. My bottom thoroughly enjoyed it.
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