When I started driving, I filled the car with everything I would need for any eventuality. There’s still an emergency Mars Bar and a 1999 road atlas wedged in with my spare tyre.
If you’re visiting the Isle of Wight in summer, my advice is to leave the snow shovel at home and instead fill the car with every possible item you might need at the seaside.
I started doing this after a trip to Shanklin about seven years ago. I didn't fancy swimming and I had never thought of Shanklin as a place with good surf, so I left my bodyboard and trunks at home. Upon arrival I found the most perfect waves for bodyboarding I had ever seen. I went for a swim in my pants but still regret not having my bodyboard.
My preparation policy paid off with a recent trip to Compton Bay with two friends who had never seen The World’s Greatest Beach before.
In Carisbrooke, the weather looked a bit iffy and I questioned whether we'd feel like swimming when we actually got on the beach. Plus, the surf forecast was not all that good and we were a bit tight on time.
I shoved in the wet suits and bodyboards, regardless.
As we were without children, we parked up at the Compton Farm end of the beach and carried down our wetsuits and bodyboards. The steps are steeper than those at Hanover Point but the views are better. The beach at the bottom of the cliffs is sandier and quieter.
On arrival, it became obvious that we needed to get in the water.
The sun was a perfect temperature and the waves were slightly bigger than had been forecast. They weren't exactly huge but they were big enough for the two visitors who were first time bodyboarders. The beach was completely empty which always adds to the fun.
"What's the best technique for bodyboarding?" one of them asked me.
"Er, wait for a wave and then lie down" I replied, perhaps demonstrating why I didn't become a watersports instructor.
We splashed around, high fived each other whilst on the boards and generally behaved like children for half an hour.
The outing also provided the chance to carry out a very scientific experiment about water temperatures on the Isle of Wight.
One of us wore trunks, one wore a 3mm summer wetsuit and I wore my brand new 5mm winter wetsuit.
I am usually a complete watery wimp and feel cold on the hottest day of the year. With my new winter wetsuit it was like walking into a bath. I still can't believe I spent decades freezing my bits off when such technology existed.
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