Not a few days after I handed my notice into my employers, I pottered off for a week’s holiday on the Isle of Wight. This was no ordinary trip, mind – it was Michelle’s
brother’s wedding, and Sarah was the lucky bride. Matt and Sarah have been
an item for years, and as I uttered the morning after the wedding day, it
was nice of them “to put us out of our misery” and get married.
Michelle and I planned ahead. Well, Michelle planned – I followed. We stayed
the night before at my house, a short drive away from the ferry terminal.
Michelle made sure everything was packed and we planned to go shopping
midday-ish, before setting sail late afternoon for the Isle. All was
As ever, the plans were in shreds by 9am. My car tax was due, and in sheer
horror I discovered that all the documents I needed were out of date. Cue me
doing a good impression of a blue-arsed fly, beetling off to the nearest
garage and demanding an MOT in the next 4 hours. Which, to their eternal
credit, they did – and we finally set off for the glorious Isle.
The ferry port conveniently sits abreast of a large shopping arcade, and we took full advantage. We
pottered, ambled, supped tea and failed to buy a single thing. By 4pm, the ferry
was docking, it was raining, and we were wet. The Alsation of Time was drooling impatiently
at our heels. We headed for the port.
The trip across water was uneventful. We alighted at Fishbourne, and made
straight to our multi-bedroomed house in Ventnor. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Isle of Wight
– if you haven’t, I’ll give you some advice. Don’t drive. It is without doubt
the most frustrating experience I have ever encountered – and that includes
parking in Guildford on a Saturday afternoon. Despite the island being a
goodly 10 miles across, even a small trip requires military planning. A
combination of large bends, tiny roads and an “older generation” of retired
folk means you are constantly wishing for the open road, a place to open the
throttle and roar off to the beach.
We arrived at the house in the early evening – although a closer description
may be “mansion”. The house was enormous, and amply fitted the 10 people
that eventually filled it. Once the bags were in, attention swung to
our empty stomachs and Michelle and I were quickly packed off to the local fish
and chip shop.
Only, there wasn’t one. At least, not one that was open. So, after half an hour of searching, we ordered the true cuisine of your average seaside town. We ordered a chinese meal.
Once back, we filled our stomachs until we couldn’t move. We were knackered. Bed was calling.
Day Two on the Isle, and the weather was dire. Michelle’s aunt and uncle
turned up (after crashing into a lovely couple’s car at the ferry port), Becki – Michelle’s sister – and Glyn turned up (with Glyn thoroughly enjoying his second week “on this bloody island”), Olly and I found salvation in a food shopping trip and several hundred games of Jenga, and we all hoped for better weather tomorrow – the Grand Wedding Day.
Day Three – and the weather was worse. Nerves a-jangling, we were worryingly
on time as we set off. Everything was going well. Too well.
As it turned out, there was nothing to fret about. The wedding was a
cracking affair, with the nervous groom and best man buzzing around making
sure nothing went wrong, and yours truly at the helm of the video camera,
doing – even if I say so myself – a fine job. It was my first time at taking
a video and I duly made the classic amateur mistake – talking loudly while
filming. Matt and Sarah now have a lovely video, marred only my constant
“witty” banter. Ah well…
The wedding party went long into the night, and was a highly enjoyable
affair. Excellent speeches were given, troughs of wine were drunk, incoherent songs were sung, aged men were falling over – all in all your typical wedding, but a very special one. Congratulations to the bride and groom, Mr and Mrs Cooke. It feels odd just writing that.
True to form, the sun came out in force in the days after the wedding, and we sweltered by the beach. We took a trip to Alum Bay, which, for a small island, was astonishingly far away from our house. The Bay is noted for it’s coloured sands – however, that is not what I will forever remember it for. For Alum Bay hosts the most dangerous rides I have ever witnessed. The first is cunningly disguised as a merry-go-round. However, for anyone above 5 foot, it should really be known as the Bollock-Breaker. The stirrups for the model horses are plainly made for leprechauns, and waves of nausea flood over you, rendering you numb as you ride up and down, up and down, essentially resting very firmly on your crown jewels.
This, however, was nothing – the Alum Bay Cliff Ride should frankly be banned. A Cliff Ride sounds enticing – you can ride down the cliff, take in the view, sample the sea air. The reality is this – you are sitting in one of two metal chairs, the entire thing hanging from a thin wire, as you rapidly plunge over a two hundred foot cliff, open to all the windy elements and facing a fall of gigantic proportions if you so much as scratch your right armpit. You’re not even strapped in, for God’s sake. And, to top it all, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Olly, who found it highly amusing to bounce up and down several times, turning a possible fall to my death into a near certainty. It was all I could do to hang on to his arm for dear life, thinking over and over to myself “if I’m going, he’s bloody coming with me”.
As it happened, I survived. Just.
The last remaining days were spent playing ball in the garden, becoming ultimate masters of Jenga, and consuming vast quantities of food in seafront pubs. There were several young’uns with us, and Joe in particular took delight in the Chicken Teddy Bears on one of the pub menus (“they’re teddy bears in the shape of chickens, Joe”).
And so the sun came down on our week on the island. The Isle of Wight is a strange place – it’s not until the sun comes out that you see what all the fuss is about. We were sad to go.