Our trip to Thorness Bay was pretty awesome. Despite the weird trek through the speed-bump infested caravan park and the slight risk of being locked in a car park overnight, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I was ready to declare Thorness Bay as the Isle of Wight’s best sunset spot, contrary to the usual declarations that Gurnard deserves the crown.
But alas, there’s always a spanner gliding through the air just waiting to end up in the works (sorry, that was a terribly clumsy attempt at a metaphor).
On a sunny Friday night we headed over to Hanover Point and walked towards Compton Bay – perhaps my favourite spot on the Island, which logically makes it my favourite spot it the World, probably. Over the years I’ve spent many evenings admiring sunsets at the beach, but it had been a good few years since the stars had aligned such as they did on that evening so I had rather forgotten how nice it can be.
The weather had been baking, so stepping outside actually felt like we were wandering along the Mediterranean on a summer's evening, and we didn’t have to just pretend it was nice. The tide was fairly low and the sky was cloudless.
On paper, Compton Bay sunsets shouldn’t be the best on the Isle of Wight. Indeed, God could have designed it so that the sun sets over the horizon rather than behind the cliffs of Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down. But he didn’t. Without wishing to turn into a great big pretentious gusher, I would contest that imperfection can be more beautiful than perfection.
We were joined on our stroll by an older couple who were happily walking hand in hand, at least until the lady fell over on some rocks. Luckily she was giddy enough to find this hilarious, which also gave me permission to snort loudly through my nose, much like a pig who had just been given a toffee apple.
The sun slowly dropped, the waves lapped on the shore and I drank a cup of tea out of a flask. There was even a weird haziness, which gave Compton Bay an extra point on the Isle-of-Wight-Guru-Sunsetness-Scale.
I think I may have found the Isle of Wight’s perfect sunset, for this week anyway.
As a bargain hunter I've got mixed feelings on loyalty cards.
Tesco Clubcard and Boots Advantage both seem pretty generous if you play the system (for example, swapping £10 of Tesco points for £30 or £40 of Wightlink travel), whereas Nectar seems to get less and less generous every year.
After a decade of shopping at Sainsbury's we had nearly enough Nectar Points to buy a 400g punnet of strawberries. I exaggerate only slightly.
This week Red Funnel launched its own loyalty card - My Red Funnel Rewards - which is free to anyone who fancies it. But is it any good, or another card in your wallet that you carry around everywhere and never actually use? (I tried to use my Morrisons Miles card recently, only to be told it had been discontinued many months ago).
Isle of Wight Guru's elite team of hotshot lawyers (the wife and I) have spent the last day poring over the terms and conditions and have concluded it is one of the more generous loyalty schemes around.
Pretty much every £1 you spend with Red Funnel will earn you 4 points (worth 4p) if you are a mainlander or 5 points (worth 5p) if you are a 'permanent' Isle of Wight resident (it is called My Red Funnel Rewards Plus for Islanders). Second home owners are stuck with 4p per £1 I'm afraid.
Once you've accumulated 300 points you can start spending. That means you need to spend £60 as an Islander or £75 as a mainlander, which you will probably do in one car return journey during the summer months.
You can then use your points on future Red Funnel travel or just splash out on a couple of onboard sausage rolls. So, if you spent £100 on a Red Funnel car journey you would get £4 or £5 on your card.
The points expire five years after they were added on so it wouldn't matter if you only visited the Isle of Wight every couple of years.
Red Funnel Season ticket holders and Red Funnel Travel Card users seem to get points, although they can't be spent on future season tickets and travel cards. By my calculations, an Isle of Wight season ticket holder would accumulate £124.15 worth of points from a 12 month Red Jet pass. They could spend that on a car journey or two. Leave a comment below if you think I've got that wrong, but that's how I understand it.
The loyalty card is only for bog standard travellers. It's not for freight, company accounts or for vans over 5.5m long or 2m tall.
As part of the launch, they are also doing a promotion with some extra points on offer (£20,000 worth of points are being split between everyone who signs up in August).
Based on how other loyalty card schemes I would expect them to do some other promotions along the lines of double points for travelling at 3am on a Thursday in March and so on.
The only thing that might put people off joining is that you are obliged to receive emails about the scheme (you can't opt out) but it does say they won't flog your details to third parties without permission, so it is pretty standard stuff.
So would it persuade me to choose Red Funnel over Wightlink? Personally, I would see it as a 4% or 5% discount and work out which is cheaper with that in mind.
Check out our guides to discount Isle of Wight ferry travel or our guide for beginners
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog
Tales of Isle of Wight days out, attractions and ferry discounts from a Wightophile
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