A couple of years ago, Shane Ritchie did a programme for Channel 5 where he stayed at Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park.
For about 24 hours, the number of visitors to this website went through the roof. We began calling it The Shane Ritchie Effect. If we operated on a larger scale (rather than out of my shed) then we'd have referred to 'TSRE' in team meetings and made it the focus of an annual conference held at the O2 Arena.
This week we think we saw a similar sensation which we are calling The Kate Humble Effect.
In a recent episode of Coastal Britain, Kate Humble went for a wander round the West Wight. She stood in front of some waves in Freshwater Bay, poked at some stuff on Chilton Chine and read the names on Yarmouth Pier. It was a lovely programme which I would recommend to Isle of Wight fans.
The bulk of the programme was spent admiring The Needles and Alum Bay, which is often the case with Isle of Wight themed programmes. Kate showed boundless enthusiasm for the history hidden within the cliffs and took a boat ride out round the chalk stacks.
Four days later we found ourselves in a colossal queue heading for The Needles. Rumour spread that it was tailing back to Bembridge. People in the bus behind us gave up and walked for the last half a mile. Local residents came out from their houses to hand out cups of soup and blankets. Thankfully, the blitz spirit got us through it.
I exaggerate slightly, but it did take us about 35 minutes to get to the ticket office which seemed a long time since Isle of Wight schools hadn't broken up for Easter. The children had eaten all of their lunch by the time we arrived, which wasn't exactly the plan.
Of course, it's possible that it was nothing to do with Kate Humble. It may just be that it was a sunny day and we arrived at peak time. I may be forced to eat humble pie (Ed: was this whole blog written so that you could include that pun?).
Once we made it inside, we rode the carousel, took home two large pieces of plastic from the hook-a-duck and drove some small cars around a dinosaur themed track.
We then walked down to the beach and pottered about beneath the multicoloured cliffs. The boat trip and chairlift are both good fun, but our children aren't quite the right age so we steered clear.
The strangest thing I saw was a visitor who had brought along a ladle and a spaghetti strainer so he could vandalise the precious cliffs by writing his name. He then crossed the utensils like he was holding two guns in a gangster movie and posed for a photograph. I set my eye-rolling setting to maximum, but I don't think he even noticed me.
I did enjoy another moment when a member of staff bellowed into a loud hailer to tell a small child to "GET OFF THE CLIFFS". The sound of his booming voice echoed across Alum Bay and the child quickly climbed down. I rather suspect that the member of staff enjoys this part of his job. I certainly would.
If you enjoy people watching, head for the halfway point between the lower steps and the upper steps. If the wind is blowing the right way you can savour the sound of a succession of chairlift riders swearing when they realise that it's a lot higher than they were expecting. I swiftly covered my children's ears and told them to walk at a brisk pace back to the car.
"Daddy, what's a @#!&?" asked my youngest daughter.
"Ask Mummy" I replied.
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