Isle of Wight

Or as I call it “The land that time forgot”

I hated the place, absolutely hated it.

To understand my hatred for the place we have to go back to 1957.

1957, this is the year my father did what I now consider to be an absolutely crazy thing. Both him and my mother came from long lines of caulkheads (this is what the islanders are called) both were born and brought up in Newport I.O.W. as were their forefathers.

What did he do that was so crazy? he left the island and Joined the Metropolitan Police. What on earth possesses a man from a sleepy backwater town to up-sticks and then throw himself into the middle of what was then gangster run London? ( the Krays were starting to make their mark) I will never know the answer to this because sadly he died before I could ever ask him as he was killed in the line of duty as a Police Officer in 1971.

1959 My parents were living in Long Lane London SE1 and I was born In an East London hospital, this makes me a true London cockney.

I am a Londoner, born and bred in the big city and lived here all my life, my parents were islanders and this meant every school holiday we would go to the island. This meant that 3 months out of every year I was on the island.

During the long Summer holiday they would take me down there, leave me with their parents for 6 weeks and then bring me home again just in time to go back to school.

This meant I never spent the holidays at home hanging around with my mates, nope I spent it in what I considered to be hell, I am from the big city, used to all the big city things, the I.O.W. is a sleepy backwater with absolutely nothing of interest to a child from London growing up.

Their ways, their accents, their pace of life, all of it I hated, really, really hated and I couldn’t wait to get back home to London and get away from it all.

They didn’t even have an indoor swimming pool on the island at that time, to me it was like going back in time 200 years.

I swore to myself that once I was grown up I was never, ever coming back to this primitive living hell. And that is pretty much what happened, from 1978 to 2010 I went back just twice, both times for funerals, day trips and got away from there as fast as I could.

Then in 2011 it all changed. My mother at 75 had become too frail to be able make the journey to the island by herself as she had been doing 4-5 times every year since my father died. This meant I had become her chauffeur for her trips to the island and meant that once again i was going to end up going there lots of times each year.

Something had changed.

These trips would involve going down for 2-3 days at a time, staying in a hotel and dropping mum off at the relatives which left me and the other half free to explore the island. Something had changed about the Island, no, that’s not true, I had changed, I had become a lot older and had seen a lot more of the world since those days of hell growing up there for 13 weeks every year.

Free from the bounds of doing what my Parents/grandparents wanted to do (mostly my grandfather dragging me down to the Robin Hood Pub, or the highlight of my grandmothers week, fish n chips from Macfisheries or Saturday morning pictures or my cousin who used to get mega excited to go on a train ride from Ryde, err they are tube trains, I go on them every single day at home, exciting isn’t the word I would use.) Anyway free of all that I started to explore and I made an amazing discovery, the hellhole of my childhood and the place I used to dread coming to was actually beautiful, stunningly so, peaceful and serene.

My mum passed away in 2018 but from 2011 to 2018 we would go down several times a year and I actually looked forward to it.

I’m a member of a Facebook groups regarding the Isle of Wight called I love the Isle of Wight, I look in it each day and I look at the pictures and descriptions of the places I used to be taken or go to a kid that I absolutely hated . These places I see would like to see with different eyes now, Oh I want to go back I want to view them again, I mean I was looking at some pictures of Brading down the other day and when I was a child I thought Brading downs was the most boring place in the world but now I look at the pictures taken from there I think that’s actually an area of outstanding national beauty and I would love to see that again.

The island is in my DNA, my grandmother on my father’s side had a surname of Warne, my grandmother on my mother’s side had a surname of Yeates, both of these being well established old island surnames going back hundreds of years.

This I believe it’s what keeps trying me back to the island it’s in my DNA. Will I go back one day? I don’t know I’d like to think so, if nothing else just to explore it one last time we shall just have to see what the future brings but for now I’ll just think of it from afar.

Steve Woodmore

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