You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Isle of Wight’ category.

untitled

Sadly this time, the TV on the ferry over to the Isle of Wight had no cock-headed man of Brading Roman Villa for us to snigger at. You can’t have everything, and as it’s a sunny day on everybody’s favourite retro-racist holiday utopia, we won’t be too disheartened. Off the boat and out of the station, along a long, bleak pier; green with age and almost empty, and at the end of it? Ryde; the town on the other side of the Solent from Portsmouth.

untitled

Like the other bits of the Island we’ve been to, Ryde retains an old-fashioned, slightly musty and moth-eaten air, like velvet curtains in a long-abandoned dancehall, heavy and hushed. There are some lovely old Victorian buildings and plenty of twirly wrought-iron colonnades. A few chotzke shops are creeping in, but they haven’t reached the biddy heights of Cath Kidston yet, just some generic tealights and vague white, driftwoody items. There are also a large number of bad boutiques.

untitled

Victoria Arcade is a fascinating building with a beautiful domed ceiling at its top and a museum of Ryde heritage at its bottom. There are also various independent shops, including one specialising in breweriana and crammed with long-forgotten logos and other interesting ephemera. Sadly, the other shop selling vintage collectibles in the arcade lets itself down by not only selling the IOW’s most popular keepsake, the golliwog, not only selling WWII Nazi memorabilia but also selling contemporary items with Nazi insignia. Won’t bother buying anything from them then.

untitled

From there we move onto the Donald McGill postcard museum. Donald McGill produced some of the best known saucy seaside postcards and is associated with Ryde due to a spate of police raids and seizures of McGill cards in 1953 in the town under the Obscene Publications Act. The museum is tiny and eccentric; at the back of a cafe called The Orrery and through a vintage turnstile. Most of the jokes on the cards are incomprehensible and often revolve around the hilarity of women being overweight. There are odd almost-double entrendres a-plenty (not rude words, but words that just sound as if they should be rude). A fat woman whose child is hidden by her size, says “I can”t see my little Charlie” – since when is a Charlie a vagina? Another buxom lady says,“I’m making curtains for my back sitting room” (She’s talking about her bloomers! ROFL!). Nhung asks “So is her Charlie also her front room?” It’s all very confusing.

untitled

We stop to try and make sense of it all at Le Croute cafe and meet our old Lost Prom friends and Isle of Wight correspondents Ian and Tina, who then accompany us through town for a foray into the charity shops. There’s nothing mega-interesting, in fact Nhung – in a first for the Lost Prom, buys nothing at all. We do spot a funny little Dr Who theme shop and a couple of stores catering for the mod attendees of the town’s regular scooter rallies, including one called Boots and Camo, which mainly sells just that. As we get further into town, the prosperous outer layers seems to flake and scab and we start to see more boarded-up buildings. The town still retains an untroubled-by-modern-concerns air though. A full-scale race riot could occur on the roundabout and the locals would probably still respond with a quiet “tsk tsk” as the petrol bombs whizzed by, pausing only to make commemorative golliwogs to mark the occasion.

untitled

We cut through a residential area back to the seafront, which is fairly featureless, just an unattractive ice rink and bowling alley. There is however an odd little shop on the front, long-closed and abandoned apart from its window display, which seems to have been left in-situ since the 1960s. Plastic novelties almost obscured by thick, grey dust, like a seaside tat shop version of Pompeii, knicker elastic and headless dolls. In some ways it’s an encapsulation of the Isle of Wight . Except it’s probably the only shop on the island not to sell golliwogs.

pier head

Lost

Evacuee paper doll set and Agatha Christie bookmark (would have bought them, but the shop sold Nazi memorabilia so left in disgust)

Nhung’s hat – nearly

Anything for Nhung to buy in a charity shop

Almost the ferry home again (once more we had to leg it down the pier)

Found

Girl comic playing cards

4 vintage postcards

Watneys Red Barrel glass and coaster

Janet Jackson single

Old friends

Lots of shops selling racist knick-knacks

untitled

Untitled

Untitled

At last! A sunny day for a Lost Prom trip, and our first trip out of Sussex as well. But of course it’s always sunny on the Isle of Wight, the quintessential childhood summer holiday destination. When we think back to the summers of our youth, we don’t remember the rainy days and disappointments. All that lingers is the sugary taste of candyfloss (but then mine got blown away), memories of playing out late into the evenings (except for the time there was a suspected paedophile prowling around the village) and the scent of rose bay willow herb (but the day I rolled around in the meadow I also took home two separate bee stings). In fact, my first glimpse of the Isle of Wight when I was little, was disappointing – it didn’t look island-y enough to me, the edges didn’t seem to slope into the sea as dramatically as they might and there were no palm trees and parrots.

donuts

donuts

This time we were prepared for disappointment, but the various island attractions shown on the ferry’s TV screen helped to build our anticipation, with Nhung and Tamsin’s attention particularly (and sniggeringly) piqued by the “cock-headed man” of Brading Roman Villa. Today’s destination though, was Shanklin and Sandown, so Brading’s mosaics will have to wait for another day. For this trip we were also accompanied by friend of The Lost Promenade, Paul, and we were met at Ryde by our guide for the day, Ian. We all hopped onto one of the island’s 1950s tube trains and began to lay our plans.

Starting off in Shanklin, charity shopping was as ever, the first task, but on this trip, we were cruelly deprived of our full quota. All of them shut at 1pm, so we only had time to look at a few. This seems to be a bit of a feature of many of the seaside towns we’ve visited so far, they dislike commerce and are bent on making it as difficult as they can for vulgarians like us to actually buy stuff. However Nhung was able to acquire a satin wedding hat and a spooky doll amongst other things. Tamsin felt cheated, as she found nothing at all, though she was charmed by the title of a clothes shop called Ladies Realm. There was a bit of a furore in the first shop we visited, when Nhung, trying on a maroon fedora, asked the shop assistant for a mirror: “Oh I don’t know…Jean do we have a mirror? Oh there might be one in the backroom, quick Jean, this lady wants to buy a mirror!” After explaining that she only needed a mirror to look into, not to purchase, Nhung decided that the fedora looked shit.

coffee or tee?

coffee or tee?

Ian led us along what appeared to be a boulevard of tearooms, each one more engagingly thatched and beflowered than the last. It was as if we had arrived in a magical Tearoom World, where the currency is scones and the head of state is Miss Marple. Our destination however, was an even more eccentric spot, Rysltone Tea Gardens and Crazy Golf, right by Shanklin Chine. The chairs and tables are arranged around the outside of a crazy golf course and surrounded by amazing flowers. However, the sandwiches had the starved, dispirited look of a model in a pie shop, very thin and ultimately empty. And at £6 for a jacket potato with cheese we decided to head elsewhere. So it was back to Marple Alley for a sausage sandwich and a banana milkshake.

need a lift?

need a lift?

Next we headed for the seafront and took the Cliff Lift down to the beach. Photos of various celebrities who’d taken a trip on it decorated the lift: Margaret Thatcher, Frank Sinatra and David Beckham, who according to the attendant “did a runner without paying”. It was only when we reached the bottom that he revealed it was all lies and Photoshop. Illusions shattered and shoulders slumped, we scuttled away.

spots & stripes

spots & stripes

Small Hope Beach was lovely, backed with honeycomb cliffs like Crunchie bars and cute pastel beach huts. We tried not to look too pervy, as we craned to take photos of the photogenically prone bodies we passed, all resplendent in lurid toe nail polish and stripy beach towels. In order to distract attention, we perfected a sort of Prince Charles-with-his-sons vague point into the middle distance: “mutter, mutter, interesting light effect over there…SNAP”. A group of joggers hurried by also muttering, all we could pick out was “blah blah SEX MANIAC blah”.

bouncy & slidey

bouncy & slidey

We walked all the way to Sandown and the time was right for the first Lost Prom swim. For the first minute, we thought we were going to die, but after that it got a bit better. No languid floating though, only a mildly panicked flailing. Nhung looked glamorous in her 50s style polka dot bikini. Tamsin wore hot pink, accessorized with an old pale green children’s book.

a whole days fun in one

a whole day's fun in one

After we’d dried off, we took a stroll along Sandown pier, “a day’s fun all in one”. Well, if you want fun, I warn you not to bother having a go on the Sandown Fire Department hosing game. Piss poor. The inside part of the pier was all neon and chandeliers; the outside was covered in notices forbidding various things, including, bare feet, shirtlessness and feathers.

snakes & ladders

snakes & ladders

As the light began to fail, we walked back through Sandown, and began to notice that in every single one of the many gift shops, amongst the misshapen china figurines and boxes of Level 42 commemorative fudge, were a myriad of golliwog toys. We have never seen these being sold new before, and found it mystifying that there should be such a demand for them on the Isle of Wight. Next, we noticed a tearoom with a sign saying, “English owned restaurant serving English food” apropos of nothing. We hadn’t spotted a horde of Lebanese or Polish bistros in the area, neither had we heard many foreign accents or seen any non-white faces. Is there some kind of underground race war raging on the Isle of “White”? Or is it just that they’re a load of tedious old racists?

jumpin jack

jumpin jack

Back in Ryde, we met Ian’s fiancé Tina for some drinks and snacks. Ryde looked like it had a lot of interesting buildings and shops, so we pledged to visit it properly another time. That night, the Ryde Illuminated Carnival was happening, and the streets were gradually filling with excited kids in light-up deely-boppers. Ian and Tina’s borrowed dog Jedi joined in, his tail wagging so fast it had a strobing effect. We ran along Ryde Pier to catch the last ferry back, vaulting over the railings in panic as we went through the wrong entrance. Just in time, the porter ushered us on, saying, “Go downstairs, there’s 250 empty seats, and out of the window you can see the blackness”.

fancy a cuppa?

fancy a cuppa?

Lost
Cake (we always say we’ll get some later and we never do)
Delicious ice cream dipped in chocolate that Tamsin had last time she came, but couldn’t find this time

Found
Spooky Victorian style doll
White satin wedding hat with veil
3 ornate photo frames
Latent racism lurking on the island

Trump, trump, trump

Trump, trump, trump

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 72 other followers

Twitter

Visitors

  • 64,706 hits