As previously discussed, my experiment of taking a child to the Isle of Wight Festival was a success as long as you don’t mind spending at least some time holding a paint brush or singing songs about telling the time.
And so, I decided to carry out a further social experiment by sending my mother to the Festival for the first time last night. Her husband had been in 1969 but he missed Bob Dylan’s famous set and could only recall The Who being ‘a cacophony of noise’ (I thought that was the idea?) so I wouldn’t count him as a regular visitor.
Mother lives close enough to hear the *thump thump* but has never quite made it onto the site. Sunday night was ideal since Rod Stewart is one of about eight answers she would come up with if given the vague category of ‘people who sing’ on Pointless. Those who have been to the Isle of Wight Festival in recent years will also be well aware that a couple in their 60s can very easily blend in amongst the families and teenagers.
After ensuring she had a clean hanky and 10p for a payphone I set them both free and told them to explore the whole site, which they dutifully did. I also told them to go on the ferris wheel to get a fantastic view of the crowd spread over the riverside site.
After the ferris wheel they happily wandered from big tent to bigger tent, impressed at the scale of the whole thing and the fact that it didn’t feel like a great big heaving crush. My mother grooved the night away to some kind of grungy rock act (there’s a helpline to support those who witnessed this incident) and then spent an unnecessarily long time making small talk with a crepe seller who I’m sure would rather have dealt with the queue.
She also remarked to me that she felt £3 was too much for a ‘lukewarm coffee’. I’m inclined to agree but it does cost the same in Costa Lotta (and every other festival).
Rod Stewart proved popular with them both (“I liked the one about sailing”) and contrary to stereotypes they didn’t complain that it was too loud. I'll admit that's rather scant detail for those hoping for a review but I can confirm they were generally impressed.
So will they come back? I'd say they were at least converts to the idea of day tickets, even if they won’t be turning up for the full four days with a cool box full of tinnies and a pair of wellies in 2018.
The exception of course will be if Cliff Richard headlines, in which case mother will be in the front row with a handmade placard and a sunflower in her hair. If that happens, you'll find me in the Big Top.
My requirements from a festival have changed somewhat in recent years.
In the earlier days of the relaunched Isle of Wight Festival I was happy spending three days staring at the Main Stage.
Nowadays, I much prefer pottering about, wandering from big tent to big tent. It's partly because I'm less obsessive about seeing certain bands (as I'm a bit less up to date with music) but this year it was mostly because I was attempting the Festival with our four year old for the first time.
I decided to keep it simple yesterday with a few hours on site in the afternoon before taking her back home to bed and then returning in the evening thanks to willing babysitters.
Her previous closest experience was a funfair in a park so she was slightly amazed at the scale.
Whereas previously we would have focused our day around getting a prime position for a particular band, yesterday our schedule was based around Milkshake Live. For those without children (or those with Netflix), Milkshake is Channel 5's preschool TV with grinning presenters who introduce Peppa Pig episodes and sing songs about chickens or telling the time. It's similar to CBeebies but the Milkshake presenters seem to be trapped inside a medium sized wardrobe.
And so we enjoyed a couple of hours wandering around, watching fairground rides (but not going on, she wasn't keen), standing in front of Minions and doing a bit of painting in the Kidzone.
We did manage a few minutes at the Main Stage with my daughter eating a picnic whilst Jack Savoretti played. His set was punctuated with the phrase "how long until Milkshake?" but it was otherwise enjoyable.
Milkshake Live finally arrived and thankfully was a success, otherwise I fear the mood in our party could have turned.
I spent much of today explaining how the presenters are able to get into our TV each morning, whilst also existing as real people.
Anyway, after a slightly protracted bedtime we returned to the site and headed for the ferris wheel which was well worth the £5 (somewhat better value than a £5 Slush Puppie I felt). I'm not exactly sure why the owners of the wheel insist on blasting out deafening dance music when they are within earshot of the Main Stage, but I endured it for the sake of the view.
For me, the main event of the weekend was Arcade Fire, who were suitably brilliant with bass which I suspect prompted a couple of minor landslides in the South Wight overnight.
A proportion of the crowd found them a bit left field and chose to wander off to a burrito stand or the British Airways bar but that's what I love about big festivals - if you don't like something, there are seven other things happening at the same time.
We got back home just before one, exactly an hour before my daughter called for me because she'd lost her dolly or couldn't remember how to spell pink or something equally necessary at 2am.
My conclusion? Sure, it's not quite as care free as it was when we wandered the Festival without children but you couldn't ask for more from organisers who lay on hours of preschool entertainment. These kind of things don't go on the adverts on the backs of the buses but they obviously cost a lot to put on and they are the headline acts for a 4 year old.
In a way it's nice to visit parts of the Festival which I walked past without a thought in previous years. We'll certainly be back and I'll have learned the words to the Milkshake songs by then.
Wightophile's with little else to do may have read about our previous adventures kayaking around the caves of Freshwater or around St Helen's.
Towards the end of last summer we took the inflatable yellow deathtrap out for another splash. This time I felt the pressure upon my shoulders as my companion - George - was a south Wighter who coyly admitted that he had no recollection of ever visiting St. Helen's, Priory Bay or most of the East Wight (even though he had a grandma in Bembridge).
It had taken two months of nagging to persuade him to journey all the way from Whitwell (15 miles), so I wanted it to be perfect.
We pumped up the kayak in the usual hilarious manner and left my wife and daughter behind to fend for themselves for an hour.
Twenty minutes later we approached Priory Bay, which I'd described as a quiet paradise with golden sands and shallow waters.
Indeed, the sands were golden but it was also the meeting point for a couple of dozen small yachts on some kind of posh school outing. It was picturesque, but it was more like an episode of Lost with a cast of 30 than a scene from Castaway.
Nonetheless, my sceptical chum admitted it was a pretty special spot and I enjoyed 30 seconds of sunshine sat on a fallen tree.
The silence was rudely shattered by my ringing phone which was inside one of these funny waterproof pouches. It's cleverly designed for idiots like me who can't cope without a mobile phone for an hour and who feel sure they will drop it into the sea.
I just about managed to answer it through the case and listened faintly to a panicky sounding wife telling me to "come back...pfffft.....quickly....mufflemuffle....water...."
*Click, BEEP* went the phone. My signal was poor and she didn't answer my return call(s).
Needless to say, I panicked a little and leapt back into the Kayak. My friend looked a little less panicked, but dutifully climbed in.
We paddled at a pace which would have won us bronze at the Olympics in the 1970s (it was fast, but I'm realistic).
As we passed around the headland and into the bay at St Helen's, I came up with a masterplan and changed direction to head for the shore. I was convinced that I could run faster than we could paddle, so I would leap out the kayak and run along the beach, no doubt resembling a hunky lifeguard. George would have to paddle back on his own.
Unfortunately, I somewhat misjudged the depth of the water and climbed out of the kayak too early. Climbing back in is not a simple option so I had to swim for shore.
And so I swam - one armed - in a fairly circular fashion towards the shore, holding a mobile phone aloft like Tom Hanks emerging from the sea after successfully catching a fish in Castaway. My dreams of appearing as a hunky lifeguard were falling apart. I could of course have tested out my fancy waterproof pouch but I briefly doubted the quality of my £5.99 pouch.
Finally at the shore, I ran along the beach and arrived red faced and puffing like a steam train.
"Oh don't worry, we're fine now" said Mrs Guru, "this kind lady helped us".
"You didn't need to rush back" she added, with a glint in her eye.
My wheezy questioning eventually revealed that the tide had come in rather rapidly, leaving our beach shelter full of water and our three year old wailing on the sea wall. My wife wasn't sure whether to rescue the tent and pushchair or calm the child.
I did consider asking quite how quickly she expected me to return considering we were well out of site onboard a vessel which travels at a snail's pace...but I thought better of it and bought us all ice creams.
A couple of hours later George made it back to the beach...
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