I'll be honest, I'm not a Rod Stewart fan.
I don't own any of his albums, I've never seen him live and I could probably only name a handful of his songs. And the chances are I'd get the names a bit wrong.
But I still think Rod Stewart is an excellent Sunday night headliner for the Isle of Wight Festival 2017 for three reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly - my Mum has heard of him. This may not sound like a great endorsement but it's hard to exaggerate my mother's lack of interest in popular culture. If it's not been featured on Countryfile or The Archers then it might as well not exist. But I when told her about the Sunday night headliner, she paid attention and said "Really, Rod Stewart?". Seriously, that's not bad at all.
Secondly, Rod Stewart fits very well into the semi-tradition of the Isle of Wight Festival featuring a big name heritage act on the Sunday night. In 2004 we had David Bowie, 2007 had The Rolling Stones, 2008 had The Police, 2009 had Neil Young, 2010 had Paul McCartney, 2012 had Bruce Springsteen, 2015 had Fleetwood Mac and 2016 had Queen + Adam Lambert.
Thirdly, Rod Stewart has never played the Isle of Wight Festival before (feel free to correct me if you think he played with one of his 60s bands, but I'm pretty sure he didn't).
Personally, I much prefer to see bands appearing for the first time, even if it's not my favourite artist. It encourages people to attend the Festival who haven't before, and there's a fair chance they will come back either to see the Isle of Wight in all its summertime beauty or to join in the fun and games at a future festival.
It's also nice to add another name to the remarkable lists of acts who have come across for the Festival in recent years, as depicted on these cups recently.
Right then...who's going to headline Friday?...
We had something of a one-off summer this year. I took several weeks off work and we spent the time swanning around the Isle of Wight, eating out when we could and general living it up.
Sorry, I know that’s a really annoying thing to be harping on about in November when the summer seems a long, long time away.
Hang on in there guys, the sun will shine again.
One of the final evening outings of the summer season was one of the best.
Normally we default to Hanover Point when we aren’t sure which beach to visit, or when time is tight as it’s one of the nearest to us. At one stage we referred to it as The Beach, as if there we no others.
On this occasion, I was without the family so took the opportunity to visit the Compton end of the beach with an old chum. Back in the day we had a bit of routine, which may reveal where my money saving ideals come from.
My Dad would drop us all off at the gate opposite Compton Farm and we would start the walk down to the beach through the field of cows and down the many steep steps.
Dad would continue driving to the car park at the top of the Military Road, since it was free, and would then walk through a different field and meet us on the beach.
The whole thing probably saved us a quid each time (this was the 90s) but over the years it paid for my wedding.
And so I felt overwhelming nostalgic walking through the field and down the steep steps, thinking of my Dad (who is no longer with us) and realising that the main reason we took this odd route rather than parking at Hanover Point was only partly because of the money it saved.
I can now appreciate that the Compton end is far superior, with glorious views as you walk down the steps which are dangerously distracting. At the bottom, the beach is far quieter and the cliffs more spectacular. The beach is sandier without as many rocks on the seabed to trip over.
It was a lovely summer’s evening and there were three other people on the beach, including one person I knew (this is the Isle of Wight after all). We pondered where everyone was, why there weren’t huge crowds capturing the sunset and the waves on their smartphones – or perhaps even enjoying it with their eyes.
The extra effort of reaching Compton Bay (as opposed to Hanover Point) is certainly part of the reason, but I think it’s also because the Isle of Wight has quite so many glorious beaches considering its relatively small size. My top 5 beaches is almost entirely different to my wife’s, and to be honest, mine changes pretty regularly anyway.
You can be fairly sure that if you head over to the Compton end at this time of year you’ll have to yourself. Just take care on those steps…
I'm a bit of an addict of discount codes and vouchers, to the extent that I feel I've failed if I pay full price for anything. My ideal scenario involves stacking several vouchers on top of each other so that I'm being paid to take something off the company's hands.
So, for the last couple of years I've been channelling that enthusiasm by posting discount codes for Isle of Wight ferry travel, most of which come from fellow voucher fans who have spotted something in the back of the Radio Times or the National Trust Magazine and kindly get in touch.
Most Isle of Wight ferry voucher codes have lots of restrictions, whereby you can't use them on the weekend of the Isle of Wight Festival or Bestival or they are only valid outside of school holidays. Others run out once a certain number of journeys have been booked.
So you can imagine my delight when Red Funnel offered to stick a booking widget on my ferries pages with 10% off all year round, without complicated restrictions and clauses. It works for cars to or from Southampton/East Cowes and it also works if you are bringing a caravan.
OK, so there are sometimes deals around which will beat that discount and I'd always recommend scrolling down on our ferry guide to see what else is around. For example, Red Funnel often do 15% or 20% off, but it's usually limited to certain dates and it requires a paper voucher. If you can stump up £1000 for a Red Funnel prepaid Travelcard then you'll get a better deal (20% off generally). Wightlink also have deals, such as their Tesco Clubcard offer.
The main restriction on the 10% discount is that you can't stack it with another discount. Equally, you'll sometimes find it is cheaper to get your accommodation provider to book for you, such as one of the many holiday parks which do a bundle deal.
Anyway, this 10% deal will save you somewhere between £5 and £20 on every booking by my guesstimate.
So, please use it, share the link with your family, milkman, GP or anyone else who will listen.
It’s around this time of year that the majority of the Isle of Wight’s tourist attractions shut up shop for the winter. A fair few stay open all year round (see our winter guide) but most decide to put the lid back on the mint choc chip and have a holiday themselves.
And let’s be honest, English seaside holidays in winter can be a bit hard going, particularly with children.
However, I’ve confidently said on several occasions that there are significant advantages – such as not seeing another soul, parking for free and the cost being a fraction of summer holidays.
But how much cheaper is it really? I set myself the challenge of finding the cheapest Isle of Wight holiday for a week, for a family of four (two adults, two children). I assumed both children were pre-school so could travel in term time.
In the height of summer I've seen return ferry fares as high as £200 for a car full of people, although there are usually discounts if you do a bit of research and aren't rigidly stuck to one time. I searched for a week in late November 2016 and found Red Funnel offering a week on the Island with a car for £62.04, once you'd factored in a discount code.
I reckon you could get that cheaper if another offer came along, as I've certainly paid less than that in winter, but let's plough on (there was a £50 return offer a while ago, and there's a £35 short break offer which has been running for a while - see our ferries guide). Wightlink was slightly more expensive on this occasion.
And what about accommodation?
If you're completely barmy then you could try camping in November at Nodes Point for £39 for a week. It says you could bring up to 6 people, although you'd have lost a couple to frostbite by the end of the week.
If you're slightly less mad, you can get a bronze caravan for up to six people for £193 (at Nodes Point). Even if there are only four of you that works out as £6.89 each per night.
So, your grand total for the week is £255.03 for 4 people.
The cheapest equivalent holiday in August came out as £807 for the accommodation and £145 for the ferry - a total of £952.
So, how much cheaper is an Isle of Wight holiday in winter? Well, based on my 10 minute study, I'd say about £700.
Right, where are my long johns? I'm off on holiday...
If you want more on low cost hotels, holiday parks and camping on the Isle of Wight, we've got a guide to the Isle of Wight's cheapest accommodation.
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