Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bowie, Beatles and Queen Victoria...Isle of Wight

Upper Terrace, Osborne House
I've got two deadlines coming up, and I haven't finished the stories yet. Instead I've been lolling about the Internet, indulging island fever. You see, as I plan to return to the Isle of Wight,  for the past couple of weeks I've been distracted with daydreams. To me, the Isle of Wight is nothing less than enchanting.

The Isle of Wight claims it's the site of David Bowie's first ever public performance, as a Scout when he was just seven years old. It also claims to be the site of the last UK performance of "the man who fell to earth."
David Bowie, age 7, Isle of Wight
As I prepare for my early March trek to this island, I'm astonished again at how friends here shake their heads in vague puzzlement at the mention of its name.  "Hmm...the Isle of Wight? I know I've heard of it. Just can't remember where." When I remind them, they grin sheepishly as they recall the Beatles' lyrics from "When I'm 64."

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save...

But where exactly is the IOW? It's not in the North Sea or the English Channel. Instead it's located at the southernmost tip of England, accessible by ferry or hovercraft from either Portsmouth or Southampton.
 The island is famous for its summer musical festival, a UK answer to the USA's Woodstock, and often just as muddy, with June deluges.

Tennyson Monument, Freshwater cliffs
For me, the IOW has even more to offer than rock and role. It's also rich in Victorian history. "It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria of Osborne House, her palatial holiday home. I agree,,,and I'm going to see it again in March. I also hope to see Dimbola Lodge, the home of Victorian portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and the grounds of the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poet laureate. Both are at Freshwater, where the Tennyson Monument is located. And, oh, yes, there's a statue of Jimi Hendrix outside of Dimbola Lodge. I'm eager to learn why. (Just found out from friend Mike Winter, who lives on IOW: "The reason for Jimi is that the original Isle of Wight festival in 1970 was only a mile away at Afton."  

Getting around is easy by bus, and though I've been to seaside Cowes, and have stayed before in Newport, in the center of the island, this time I'm excited to be seeing some of the other corners...I'm hoping, for instance, to get to Ryde to take in the Waltzing Waters.

Since I'll be staying in Newport, I plan to spend evenings at The Castle Inn, Newport's oldest pub, that claims to have been licensed since 1550. Here's the lurid history of this former den of thieves and vagabonds:  It serves up ice cold Old Rosie and pretty good sandwiches. If it's warm and dry enough to chat for  an hour or more on the courtyard patio, all the better.

If you sense my excitement about returning to the Isle of Wight...yes. I have to admit it's one of my top three islands of the world, right up there with Mahe, Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, where I lived for three years in the '90s, and Catalina, off the California coast, which I've been visiting since 1955. I'm an islander at heart.
Courtyard garden, The Castle

1 comment:

  1. I've never thought about the idea of a favorite island, but without question mine is Kauai. It's where I spent my honeymoon, 10th and 20th anniversaries.