Tuesday, 22 December 2009

A winter's weekend at Gurnard Pines

We've just spent our first weekend at Gurnard Pines, on the north coast of the Island near Cowes.

A week before Christmas the weather was never going to be good, but as the snow began to fall over London we feared the worst. However we arrived on the Island to discover that the snow clearly hadn't, and it remained that way until we left. Indeed on the Saturday and Sunday the sun was shining and there was a distinctly summery feeling in spite of the crisp cold outside of our our well-heated pine cabin.

Unlike many of the sites at which we've stayed,
Gurnard Pines majors on leisure rather than nightlife. It boasts an amazingly spacious and well-equipped gym and a large and (at time of year anyway) very uncrowded swimming pool. The ladies' changing rooms have been refurbished to the point of luxury, and I was told the men's will follow suit shortly. After a workout or a swim one can relax at The Brasserie, at which one can buy coffee, alcoholic beverages and some quite classy food.

We were fortunate to be allocated one of the pine lodges, which are modern, spacious and extremely comfortable. We noticed some more basic chalets on site, but no caravans.

For those who like to relax over a beer in the evening it means a short walk into town once The Brasserie closes at 9.00pm. We found a nice little free house called The Portland Inn, where on the Friday night a local two-piece band entertained.

Gurnard Pines enjoys a good reputation, and we left resolving to return and see what it is like in the warmer months.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Buying your own Caravan - Park Resorts offering up to 30% off all stock!

Holiday park leader Park Resorts has announced its "Blue X Sale", with up to 30% off all its holiday homes.

New caravans are available from £12,995 with pre-owned stock going for as little as £7,995 and deposits starting from a mere £750. Guaranteed finance is also on offer.

The Isle of Wight plays host to four Park Resorts parks - Thorness Bay (near Cowes), Nodes Point (near Ryde), and Lower Hyde and Landguard (both in Shanklin).

Click here to see what is on offer, to view the terms and conditions and to arrange a visit online.

Encountering Wildlife in Seaview

Formerly known as Flamingo Park, Seaview Wildlife Encounter is an award-winning family-run attraction a few minutes' drive from the popular Island resort of Ryde.

The visitor can see otters, meerkats, wallabies, penguins, flamingos, a wide variety of fowl and water birds and even interact with the animals at feeding time. Indeed open a bag of bird feed at the wrong time and you'll spend all day in the company of friends you never knew you had.

As well as providing a good opportunity to see wildlife,
Seaview Wildlife Encounter provides a valuable learning opportunity for children and adults alike. With quizzes and competitions, photography days, birthday parties and a chance to meet the keepers, the Park is a unique experience for the visitor and has a "come again" factor all of its own.

Follow the B3330 from Ryde if you are driving, or take the Road Train along the Esplanade to combine an educational outing with a bit of fun and fresh air. Alternatively, the 16 bus route from Ryde runs fairly close by - ask to be dropped off at the bottom of Oakhill Road and follow the signposts from there.

Seaview (Sat Nav PO34 5AP) has a large car park overlooking the sea with ample space for all comers.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Winter holidays on the Isle of Wight?

By The Hermitage Team

Many think of the Isle of Wight as a summer island, however more and more people are realising the benefits of that winter holidays on the island provide.

So what are the benefits of booking a holiday on the island after the recognized holiday season has finished? The biggest reason has to be price, everything is cheaper out of season and the savvy holiday maker can make huge savings by delaying their trip by just a few months. Ferry fares, Isle of Wight hotels and even island attractions lower their prices considerably after the summer season has finished.

Weather is still reasonable at this time of year however if weather concerns you why not limit the risk of bad weather by staying at Ventnor hotels as Ventnor enjoys an unusual microclimate. A further benefit can be noticed on the roads, beaches and attractions as the summer crowds have long since departed you can enjoy a far more relaxing break.

One of the most important factors to remember when choosing when to book your holiday is the beauty of the Isle of Wight never diminishes regardless of the season!.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A Weekend at Fairway

A couple of weeks ago we made our way back to the Island for a welcome weekend break at Fairway Holiday Park in Sandown.

The weather was excellent for late October and the entertainment was as good as it's always been - James hasn't lost his touch after all these years. For those who prefer the smaller, independent site to the larger and more corporate operation Fairway really is the place to go.

We visited the Calbourne Water Mill for the first time, which just goes to show that even after all these years there is always something more to surprise you. The staff give a demonstration each afternoon of a mill in operation, and there are various pieces of wartime and antique machinery which will be of interest to the historically minded. The web address is http://www.calbournewatermill.co.uk/, although the link wasn't going anywhere when we tried it.

Shortly before we left we paid a visit to Gurnard Pines, where we will be staying in December. It looks pretty good - sports club and everything - but I'll report further after we've had our stay there.

The Brading Experience

Originally a Wax Works, Brading the Experience is now, as its name suggests a whole experience to be enjoyed and marvelled at.

As well as Animal World the site now boasts World of Wheels, a themed café, a gift shop and a discount themed store.

Enter and make your way around Great British Legends, the Old Rectory Mansion and the Chamber of Horrors.

Brading itself, on the main road between Ryde and Sandown, centres upon a very quaint hill street with several small independent shops, tea houses and public houses.

The Experience itself (Sat Nav PO36 0DQ) is reasonably priced, with special arrangements for school parties. It can be accessed by bus or train (ten minutes' walk). There is also a free car park just a few yards away.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Island options for the approaching winter season

With blogs being used more and more by people looking for travel resources, making sure that people are aware of the opportunities that the Isle of Wight offers is important.

That said, an Isle of Wight hotel can make for a great getaway, either for a weekend or a longer trip. There’s plenty to do on the island; you’re not going to be able to see everything that might interest you. But with a decent, comfortable base of operations, you’ll be sure of seeing that much more, and hopefully enjoy it more too.

There are alternatives for Isle of Wight accommodation, but with winter approaching, camping and caravans are looking less appealing. Holiday cottages though, such as those offered by Gurnard Pines, will still offer warm, cosy places to stay.

Of course, one of the most important things to bear in mind whilst looking for somewhere is how you’ll reach it. Deciding whether you’ll bring a car to the island, and what form of transport you’ll use to get there (ferry, hovercraft or catamaran) are all important decisions as well.

With luck, somebody reading this will find it helpful, and they’ll shortly be stepping off a ferry (or hovercraft or catamaran) to discover the island for themselves.

This article was donated by Artavia.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Sometimes we all need a Middle Man

The Middle Man is a new Internet-based business which is helping a number of other businesses on the Island to compete for what trade there is left in the depths of a recession.

It can be a fallacy to suggest that, when times are hard, one needs to tighten one's belt and hope that when the clouds begin to clear there is still enough left in the bank to enable one to carry on where one left off. The counter argument, and it is a good one, is that when the potential for business declines one has to work harder, and smarter, to keep things going. That is where services like this one come in.

The Middle Man is basically an agent, painstakingly seeking out business opportunities for its clients who are then free to devote their own time to selling or producing. It uses Social Networking, cleverly exploits local Community Forums, scours the web for free advertising opportunities and acts as a helpful friend, generating the business that was always out there but which the proprietor often does not have the time to go out hunting for. What's more, it does it a price which even during a recession does not begin to pinch. At £30 for six months or £50 for a year, many businesses would need just one new customer to cover their outlay.

This new venture is currently in its infancy but it is already beginning to enjoy some deserved success. If it bring trade from elsewhere to the Island then let's hope it continues to thrive.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Dame Ellen MacArthur announces retirement

Round-the-world yachtswoman and Island resident Dame Ellen MacArthur has announced that she it to retire from competitive sailing to concentrate on environmental campaigning.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, she said the inspiration for her decision came whilst spending two months camped on a remote island off South Georgia in the south Atlantic.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Park Resorts late offers from £111 for four nights

Park Resorts have a number of late caravan holiday offers available at their four parks on the Island - Languard, Thorness Bay, Nodes Point and Lower Hyde - starting from £111 for four nights (Monday to Friday).

Click here for more information or to make an instant booking online.

The Isle of Wight Marathon - 4th October 2009

Now in it's 53rd year, the Isle of Wight Marathon is the oldest marathon in the United Kingdom.

Registration is at Ryde Rowing Club, and the run begins on the south side of Ryde Boating Lake at 11.00 am. The course consists of a single lap incorporating Ryde, Binstead, Wootton, Newport, Rookley, Arreton, Sandown, Barding - and then back to Ryde. There are eight drinks stations available at approximately three miles apart.

Concessionary travel on ferries is being offered by Wightlink, details available upon entry.

Arreton Barns Craft Village

Arreton Barns is a wonderfully traditional craft village near the centre of the Island that boasts a whole range of shops and attractions.

It's free to visit - just drive in, leave your vehicle in the ample car park and take a look around the gift shops, try your hand at pottery, feed the fish in the carp pond or enjoy a pint of real ale (the Fuggle-Dee-Dum, by Goddards, is particularly appealing) or some of the excellent food on offer at the Dairyman's Daughter public house, where entertainment is also on offer in the evenings.

The shops collectively stock a particularly wide variety of Island produce including season gifts, wines, ciders, beers, liquers and organic farm produce.

There are even a few antique slot machines, specially adapted to take 5p pieces. They're there for a bit of fun, don't expect to get rich on them!

The village is on the main road in Arreton (Sat Nav PO30 3AA). If you are approaching from the Newport direction be careful you don't drive past, it is just on the left after the sharp bend.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

"Dormice in Briddlesford Woods" - walk this weekend

The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) will be hosting a walk this Saturday, 19th September near Wootton Bridge.

Briddlesford Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is owned by the charity. It is home to a number of rare species including dormice, red squirrels and bats.

This weekend visitors will have the opportunity to check some of the 400 nest boxes in the woods.

The event will take place in the morning and will be repeated again in the afternoon. Please click here to book a place.

Gurnard Pines anyone?

We've just booked up through The Sun for the weekend before Christmas and this time we've been allocated Gurnard Pines, on the north coast of the Island.

This will be the first time well have been there, although it does look rather nice on the website - all pine lodges and bungalows. Not sure about the weather at that time of year though - more on this latest expedition anon.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Park Resorts New ABI Summer Supreme

This year Park Resorts has put its years of experience to good use by teaming up with one of the UK's leading caravan manufacturers and producing a model which is stylish, modern and thoroughly appealing - the ABI Summer Supreme.

Comfortable, spacious and built to last, the ABI is available for between £40,000 to £45,000, depending on location.

For more information, simply click here to visit the Park Resorts website and arrange a no obligation VIP tour.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Shanklin Chine - historic gorge with subtle illuminations

Shanklin Chine is a historic gorge of natural beauty and a splendid haven of woodland, wildlife, unusual plants and a strangely enchanting waterfall.

One of two famous chines on the Island (along with Blackgang which boasts a popular theme park), as well as many that are lesser known, the deep ravine at Shanklin is believed to have formed over 10,000 years and plays host to a glorious collection of flora and fauna. In spite of the tranquility which is itself an attraction to thousands of visitors there is much to see and do. Shops, nature trails, a Children's Nature Hide (red squirrels are frequently to be seen), a fisherman's cottage, gift shop and heritage centre make this a must for nature lovers everywhere.

Located at the heart of the thatched village of Shanklin, visitors will often combine a stroll around the Chine with a tour of the historic attractions and teashops of the old town.

Opening time is 10am. From July 3rd the Chine stages open evenings until 10pm with subtle illuminations. From April until July, and again from September until November, the venue closes at 5pm. Entrance prices are inexpensive, with concessions, families and school groups catered for.

There is no parking on site, however visitors may use the Vernon Meadow car park (Sat Nav PO37 6QT) or Shanklin Esplanade.

Friday, 21 August 2009

S-K-C - Sparky's Krew Club!

Sparky, for those who don't him, is a six-footish rabbit who, along with his Krew, entertains 5-11 year-old children at Park Resort venues around the Island and indeed throughout throughout the country. In fact the under-fives can get involved in some of the activities as well!

Sparky's Krew - Sparkle, Pipsqueak and Naarky - invite children to join them for a full programme of games and entertainment. The day begins with the Sparky Krew Club Breakfast, and then it can on the Magic Masterclass or the Spy School, listening to Sparky's Tales, the Mini Beast Safari, Sparky's Mysterious Puzzles, Sensory Trail, Treasure Hunt, Beach Walk, Family Orienteering, Space Resorts, Parachute Adventure, Sports Day or a whole lot more.

In the evening there is the Dr Krew Show, Krew TV and Who Framed Sparky Rabbit? In fact there is something on for your children for the entire week.

Staff are keen to stress that whilst Sparky and his Krew are there for your kids to enjoy, they are not a child minding service and parents remain responsible for their children throughout.

More information can be found here.

Appuldurcombe House - a must-see for visitors to the Island

The 300-acre Appuldurcombe Estate plays host to this partially restored 18th century House abutting Capability Brown's 11-acre ornamental gardens. Whilst the House is an attraction in itself for lovers of history and architecture, there is more on offer to the visitor. As well as a well-stocked gift shop there is also an Owl & Falconry Centre, which provides some fascinating displays accompanied by an interesting and informative commentary from the falconer. Special Events, such as an annual Easter Egg Hunt, are also laid on, and the House can be made available for weddings and private functions.

Appuldurombe also has several holiday cottages which can be rented. These include freezer, colour television, cooker and microwave, as well as duvets and blankets (linen is available at an extra cost). Children are welcome and highchairs and cots can be provided. Holidaymakers receive a free ticket to the Owl & Falconry Centre and, if applicable at the time of your visit, to many of the Special Events. A supply of bicycles is also available for hire free of charge.

The House itself is open between April and September inclusive, between 10am and 4pm. Appuldurcombe House is in Wroxall off the B3327 Ventnor Road (Sat Nav PO38 3EW).

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Waltzing Waters - a fabulous light show steeped in history

Waltzing Waters is a somewhat unsung star attraction within the Island's portfolio of entertainment venues.

The 40-minute musical light show takes place every hour on the hour throughout the day and has easy access and always plenty of parking. The ample cinema-like rows of seating mean that the auditorium is seldom packed or claustrophobic, and that the experience is always a relaxed and comfortable one.

The first musical fountains were pioneered in 1930 by the German Otto Przystawik and developed by his son Gunter in the USA during the 1960s. Today grandson Michael Przystawik is President of Waltzing Waters Inc. The Isle of Wight venue is one of two currently operating in the UK, the other being in Newtonmore, Scotland.

As well as the light show itself there is a spacious shop in which various souvenirs, ornaments etc. can be purchased and a small, comfortable coffee lounge.

To get to Waltzing Waters, come off the A3055 Sandown to Ryde road at the Tesco's roundabout and pass the supermarket car park on your left (Sat Nav PO33 1QS). Opening hours are 10am till 4pm, with additional late shows at 7.15pm and 8.15pm from late March through till October. Prices are £4.50 for adults, £2.50 for children and £4.00 for seniors and students, with a Free Return Visit thrown in. Special Group Rates are also available, and a £1 internet discount coupon can be printed off from here.

Amazon World Zoo Park - a fun-filled educational experience

Amazon World Zoo Park very intelligently combines the "meet the furry animals" concept of the traditional zoo with a superb educational experience. Visitors not only get to see the wildlife which is to be found in this particular area of the world, but also to experience the flora and fauna of the region and to learn about the delicate environmental and ecological issues which exist and in many cases threaten the sensitive balance which conservationists are striving to preserve. Amazon World has developed breeding programs and works with other organisations on research that is designed specifically to assist in the conservation process.

Lemurs, tapirs, meerkats, sloths, big cats and many more mammals are to be seen as well as birds (including a falconry display), reptiles, insects, reptiles, fish and amphibians. There is also a daily Meet The Animals Talk, as well as an Adoption program. Special rates are offered to encourage schools to visit (a teachers' pack can be downloaded from the website here).

Amazon World is situated on the A3056 opposite the Fighting Cocks Roundabout between Sandown and Newport (Sat Nav PO36 0LX). It opens daily at 10am, all the year round.

Well worth a visit.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Family Vacations on the Isle of Wight

By Travis OI

Family vacations are always an inspiring and challenging feature of our lives. They often create those long and lasting memories containing bright and vivid images of
the things accomplished. There are a few families that do not care when going on holiday about such a ghastly thing as how much money they spend! They are the rich set and spend money without thinking for one second can they afford it. For big families that live in the real world taking care of the money spent on a family holiday can often turn into a challenge.

Though, it is important to have a holiday, it is also important not to break the bank doing so. However, there are some alternatives to having an exciting vacation on a budget that is affordable...

First of all, look around and review the great variety of options in the UK for family vacations. With the Euro so strong you can now save your money and have a great holiday in your own country. Look for example on the Isle of Wight. It is an ideal place for an enjoyable family adventure. At the moment research has shown that the Isle of Wight is one of the leading regions for people like to have good family vacation. Why not discover for yourself the golden sandy beaches and miles of unspoilt natural beauty as well as splendid panoramic views. There are so many nice parks and places to visit for all the family on the IOW.

Once such place to stay with the family is Thorness Bay Park, which is situated very near Cowes. Hidden within a green wood, ideally suited for warm sea swims and walks as well as lots of suitable attractions for the family plunge you all plunge into a fairy-tale break. Adults can relax on terrace while children playing games or enjoying swimming pool. The evening cabaret shows and nightly excursions all add up to making this resort a fabulous time to remember in the coming winter months. Lower Hyde in Shanklin also waits for its guests for non-stop, uncontrolled, crazy and superb amusement and leisure distractions. There are so many indoor and outdoor activities for kids that your children will not have any spare time or energy left. Parents may relax with a nice drink at Hudsons Bar.

If you like a bit more of an active leisure time then you are welcomed at Squires Showbar. Here you have to get ready for shows, discos, dancing and competitions! Further to the North East of the Island is Nodes Point ii is also one of the most favorite locations and destinations in Ryde for family travelers on a budget. Spectacular views of Bembridge Bay always remain in memory. Make time to stunning walk along the stunning coastal paths, while the Sparky Krew provides the little ones with a magic fun and games afternoon.

This is just a drop of the ocean. You can have a great Isle of Wight Holiday, choosing any time and any one of the parks available. Opt for an Isle of Wight Hotel and start your exciting journey now!

About the Author

Isle of Wight is a super place to take a superb vacation. If you consider to voyage Isle of Wight, then you shall all necessary information re this island. Check what you can find our Island Eye portal.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Where We've Stayed (Part Seven) - Whitecliff Bay, Bembridge

The seventh and final (so far) holiday park that we've been consigned to on the Isle of Wight was Whitecliff Bay which, as the name suggests, is on the coast at Bembridge.

We arrived late in the evening as we'd had to collect our kids from school before setting off. However I'd done a recce on the site a week before whilst staying at Rookley and so I'd familiarised myself with the site. But in the dark it was different, poorly-lit around the chalets where we were staying and overrun by rabbits (very cute, if you like rabbits).

The site has a bit of a Park Resorts feel to it, but is actually independent. It has a wide range of facilities including a large shop, swimming pool, pub/restaurant (very relaxing in the evening if you prefer peace and quiet), games room, play areas, snack bar, hairdresser, laundrette and a lively entertainment bar. Unusually for such a place, one can enjoy a pint of real ale whilst listening to the cabaret. On our third night we were lucky enough to watch a comedy act which was one of the best we'd seen on the Island, a West Country man whose name sadly escapes me. Apparently the park hosts a number of theme weekends throughout the year, although unfortunately ours wasn't one of them.

By day those of an energetic bent can walk down onto the beach which, with the cliffs to the rear, forms one of the Island's most beautiful seafronts. Here one can collect many of the different coloured sands for which the Island is famous. There are two beach cafés where a surprising variety of food is on offer, as well as most of the conventional beach merchandise for swimming, paddling, sandcastling and planting silly flags.

Due to the proximity of Bembridge Airport planes frequently fly low overhead, but with them being mostly single props it hardly compares with life under the Heathrow flightpath.

I'd definitely go back to Whitecliff. The chalet was compact but adequate, the staff are polite and the whole operation really makes the effort. Yet another Isle of Wight holiday park to add to our approved list.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Late offers from Park Resorts

Even during the peak season, it's usually possible to find offers at Park Resorts. Just a quick search today told me they were offering £40 off selected chalets and caravans at Thorness Bay and £50 off a chalet at Lower Hyde, for a three night weekend stay starting on August 21st.

Visit the site and follow the instructions to the special offers. Even at this time of year, they are more affordable than you might think.

Isle of Wight - Home of British Watersports

The Isle of Wight is not only home to a myriad of UV craving sun worshippers, it is also home to hundreds of wind surfers, kite surfers and even land yachters. The end of August marks the return of these thrill seekers to Yaverland's crystal crescent of sand on the Isle of Wight for the ‘White Air Festival'. This festival is currently Europe's largest extreme sporting event. Surf kayakers, mountain boarders, gravity racers and paramotor enthusiasts join this intrepid bunch for a week of partying and competitions.

You might think that these sports are only for the young men and women with spiked, dyed and primped strands of hair, tattoos of every variation and clothes that seem a few sizes too large, but the fact of the matter is, these sports are enjoyed by people from every age group and ability and they are there not only to compete, but to have fun in an almost community atmosphere. When you are tired and need a respite from the competitions, a grassy hilltop overlooking the competitions one can find a myriad of tents that are filled with bars, live bands, tune spinning DJs, stalls and arenas.

If the view out to the ocean is clear of windsurfers and the water is calm and undulating, you can turn your attention to the mountain boarders who are proficient in daredevil style jumps on exceedingly steep ramps. If you wish to look to a smaller version of this sport, you may want to peek into the skate ramp tent, where you can take a respite from the sun. All of these sports are going on simultaneously in every area around, be it on water or land. The commentators are fun and clever and are extremely entertaining in themselves.

If you are tired of being a spectator and would like to get your feet wet either literally or figuratively speaking, most of these sports offer sessions geared for the newcomer. They are always a big draw and it is a wonderful way for the sports to pull in new enthusiasts. You may find yourself in some interesting or embarrassing positions in your attempt to recreate what you have seen throughout the event, but it's all in fun and every one of those participants were new to it at one time or another and will know just exactly what you're going through, they will cajole you through your perceived perils and teach you how to interact with the sport in a more skilled way.

This article was written on behalf of Gurnard Pines a
Isle of Wight Holiday Parks perfect for taking an Isle of Wight Holiday. It is reproduced with acknowledgements to Jainsachin Articles Directory.

Where We've Stayed (Part Six) - Landguard, Shanklin

When we learned we were going to Landguard, we were curious as to what this little site just along the road from Lower Hyde had to offer. We were on the Island anyway enjoying a break that we'd booked earlier, so we decided to pop along and take a look.

The first surprise, of course, was the abundance of Park Resorts flags flying in the wind at the entrance to the park. We had been told it was independent. We were informed at Reception, however, that Park Resorts had taken them over only two weeks previously!

This knowledge came in handy when we strolled into the coffee shop by the pool and were asked to produce our pass cards. Quick as a flash (if I say so myself) I produced the Park Resorts passes which we had been issued at Thorness Bay, where we were staying. That should do nicely...

Landguard is the smallest of Park Resorts' four parks on the Island. Neat rows of caravans in such locations as "F4" and "G3" (as opposed to the "Bluebell" and "Oaklands" clusters at Thorness Bay) overlook, from left to right, the Reception, shop, café, main bar and swimming pool/bar. It is a very clean and peaceful site, and the caravans are impressive.

Even more impressive are the wooden cabins at the rear of the site, if you are lucky enough to book one. These are luxury to the point that I could happy live in one. Really superb.

On a fleeting visit this year I noticed that club passes could also be used at Lower Hyde, about half a mile along the road, and vice versa. I'm not sure whether this means some "sharing" of entertainment.

When the offers arrive and we come to deliberate which park we wish to list as our first choice both our kids now invariably say Landguar
d. Serene, tidy and with good facilities and easy access to the old town of Shanklin, one could do much worse.

Where We've Stayed (Part Five) - The Orchards, Yarmouth

On one occasion the guys at The Sun decided to send us to The Orchards Holiday Park, which is a short drive from Yarmouth.

The Orchards is a small, independent caravan site towards the west of the Island which opens between March and October. What struck us when we arrived was how ordered it was. Campers in adjacent fields flew flags, the caravans were neatly aligned and we were advised by friendly staff that the site was pedestrain only, except for when luggage was being loaded and unloaded on departure and arrival.

The site has the usual range of facilities, which impress in every department. It has a large, well-stocked camp shop, take-away food, pleasant indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a coffee shop, a recreation area, pool and table tennis, children's play equipment and a dog walking area. One can also play Pétanque, a game related to boulles that I confess I'd never heard of, but do click the link for details if it appeals.

The only thing that was missing - and it's a big only for some - was social activity in the evenings. There is a small club run by volunteers (mostly prison officers) about five minutes' walk from the site and visitors to the site are offered special temporary membership at a few quid for the week, but it is basically a place where they sell beer rather than an entertainment venue.

I'd recommend The Orchards for a quiet weekend, but only if Park Resorts or the other larger sites aren't your thing.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Autumn holidays in the Sun

Just booked up with The Sun for a weekend in the autumn and we've been assigned to Fairway Holiday Park in October, just at the start of the half-term holiday. A quick visit to Bebo confirms that star entertainer James Matthewman is still there. Last time we called by he was doing a double-act with Bruce Jones (Les Battersby to some), who holidays there himself.

It will be nice to see Fairway again as it was our first "base" on the Island. If we can find somewhere available during that fairly busy period for a couple of extra nights, either by remaining at Fairway or locating somewhere to move on to, it should make for a nice little break.

Me, I'm quite looking forward to it.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Touring and camping holidays on the Isle of Wight

I've stayed in caravans, chalets, holiday cottages and hotels on the Isle of Wight. I've even on occasions spent cold, chilly and uncomfortable nights on friends' settees. But one thing I haven't done - yet - is take a tent and spend a cheap but fulfilling weekend or few days under the stars amongst the elements.

To be honest it's a very long time since I've pitched a tent anywhere. But if camping is your thing, the Isle of Wight offers many options to enable you to get away from the noise and the pollution of the city and spend some time breathing clear air in the unspoiled countryside of this wonderful little island.

The most obvious of these options is probably Park Resorts. They have 22 coastal parks around the country, including on the Island, and prices start at just £24 per night.

What is really attractive about this is that campers have the same use of the site facilities as those staying in the caravans or the holiday homes. At Thorness Bay, where we usually stay at least once a year, we see the tent dwellers at the Regatta Bar enjoying the singing, dancing and entertainment and then during the day time one meets them at the swimming pool, or eating and drinking at the plush new restaurant/bar. The large and expanding camping pitch on the site has all the usual facilities, and I've witnessed a real community spirit developing amongst the growing number of "regulars" who return each year.

If you don't have a tent of your own it's no problem. Park Resorts hire out their own three-bedroom, ready-to-use tents at Nodes Point, nr. Ryde, from just £59 per break.

For more information about camping at Park Resorts, please just click here and see for yourself what is available for you.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Buying your own Holiday Home on the Isle of Wight

Owning your own holiday home gives you the freedom of being able to jump into your car and drive off to your holiday destination at a whim, at almost any time of the year including the summer season. You don't need to book, you can hire it out to friends, and you have the familiarity of knowing that you'll be staying at your own caravan in the same location.

Additionally, you could choose to let your holiday home out at those times when you know you'll not be using it. In this way you can generate a valuable income and let others pay for your own well-deserved holiday.

Probably the best option for holiday home ownership is Park Resorts. As well as managing 37 award-winning parks, including four on the Isle of Wight, the company has a wealth of experience through its Owners Elite Teams who will speak to you about your needs and requirements and consider the best option to suit your individual circumstances. Park Resorts hosts exclusive events and parties for owners, providing a great environment in which to meet new friends and socialise, as well as providing free ownership to all the facilities available at the parks.

Owners benefit from an extended season, allowing them to use the parks exclusively before the holidaymaker season begins and also for some time after it has finished.

Another way in which owners can make money is through the Owners Referral Programme. Refer a friend into holiday home ownership and you will receive a credit worth £500. Refer three and you will receive £2250 - and there's no upper limit!

Needless ot say there are costs involved. As well as the initial purchase of the holiday home, owners are required to pay Pitch Fees, insurance, rates, electricity and gas. Park Resorts frequently offer a discount on Pitch Fees as an incentive, at least over the first year - ask them before you make your decision to buy.

They have also been known to offer a free night's stay if you visit a park with a view to discuss buying, or to refund the cost of your holiday if you purchase a holiday home during your stay. Again, ask them what's on offer.

The last thing that needs to be stressed is that owning a holiday home can be surprisingly affordable. While a new top model caravan might cost you in excess of £50,000, a used model can be bought for £7,000 - sometimes even less.

Whether you are ready to purchase your own holiday home or whether you remain undecided, Isle of Wight Review would urge you to contact Park Resorts and discuss your options with them. In our experience the Owners Elite teams are without exception professional, expert, open, honest and not in any pushy in that annoying way that most sales people tend to be these days.

For more information without any obligation, please click here and visit the section on Holiday Home Ownership.

Great beaches on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful place, and there's a lot to do there. One of the things that's a favourite of travellers and tourists, though, is to go to the beach. If you're going to be spending a lot of time on the beach, Sandown is among the best choices. The beaches there are very beautiful and they are unspoiled in many ways, so walking along them can be quite an experience. The white sand is the main attraction, but there is a pier there, as well, with amusements. Adults and children alike can have fun on this boardwalk and still enjoy the unspoiled areas of beach. Breweries and many other things are on the Isle of Wight, too, which is also an English county.

There are more than one hundred and forty thousand people who call it home, but they will be happy to welcome you on your holiday adventure. The Isle of Wight has many unspoiled areas along with its beaches, and the countryside overall is amazing, so it's something that you shouldn't miss during your stay. Ocean ferries take you between the mainland and the Isle of Wight, so it's easy for you to get there with no work involved.

Once you get there, you can really relax, because Isle of Wight breaks are some of the best that the UK has to offer. The restaurants, the beaches, and the accommodations are not easy to forget, and they keep people coming back to the Isle of Wight again and again, no matter how many times they've already been to a particular area or seen a particular attraction - and that's especially true of the beaches. Many places have nice beaches, but the area near Sandown, with all of that white sand, is really exquisite. People love to come there with their special someone, with their children, or just with their family or friends. Some come alone, just to be part of nature and at peace for a little while. There are so many miles of coastline and beach that you can get the solitude that you crave or you can spend time with others. The choice is really up to you, and the Isle of Wight offers you both options. It's a great way to keep visitors interested in the area and keep them coming back for more of the beauty of the Isle of Wight each time they take a holiday.

This article was written on behalf of Gurnard Pines a Isle of Wight Holiday Parks perfect for taking an Isle of Wight Holiday. It is reproduced with acknowledgements to Jainsachin Articles Directory.

Job opportunities on the Isle of Wight

Have you ever thought of moving to paradise? And, by paradise I am referring to the Isle of Wight. The Island is quite possibly the most beautiful place in all of Britain. And, there is so much to do there. You can mountain bike, kite surf, paraglide, or sit on the beach. The best part is the island has the most amazing climate. So, if you are sick of London's cold weather, it might be time to make a change. However what are you going to do for work?

A lot of people actually find employment on the Isle of Wight. However, the Island makes the majority of its money off of tourism. So, chances are the job opportunities that are on the island will most likely involve working with the tourists that come to visit the island. If you will not mind that, then it might be time to start looking into to a new job and figuring out where to move on the island.

What kind of jobs are we talking about?

One example of a job on the island is a domestic gas installer. You responsibilities involve installation of central heating systems for private customers across the Island. In this job you would work with a variety of people and companies. A lot of people come and stay on the island for a short time and need their heating installed temporarily, so you would help them.

If that does not sound like a job that is up your alley, consider looking into account management. There are some stores and hotels that require territory account management. You would have to travel around the island and make sure that the client's needs are being taken care of. Then, you would work at home using a laptop.

You also have the option of working in the many stores or hotels on the island. Some places work on an incentive based system. You could receive tips or commission. This might be the ideal opportunity if you are motivated and like working with people.

The island also has a lot of restaurants that need employees. You might like working at one of them and helping the tourists. You would definitely meet fun people and the hours would be flexible.

Whatever job you do get, keep in mind, you are moving to the island to live there are relax there. So your job is basically your second priority. Find something that will make you enough money and that you will enjoy doing.

This article was written by Tom Sangers on behalf of Garden Isle Hotels who offer Isle of Wight Accommodation and is reproduced with acknowledgements to Jainsachin Articles Directory.

Best Time To Visit The Isle Of Wight

by Robert Palmer

The best time to visit the Isle of Wight depends on what you like to do and what kind of person you are. In other words, there is a huge array of options for festivals and other experiences. There is also a lot of difference in climate from one season to the other, and that can settle an argument about the best time to visit very quickly. If you like the hotter climates and the idea of going to the beach and doing a lot of outdoor activities, the summer on the Isle of Wight is definitely for you. That's a great time for sun worshippers to go there and enjoy everything that the Isle has to offer, no matter what kinds of activities they like to enjoy. There are hikes, gardens, and camping that can be enjoyed, and there is always the beach and the beauty of the coastline.

There are also festivals and great places to eat, as well as beautiful options for places to stay. In the summer, though, the Isle is busier, rates are higher, and there are more tourists. If those types of things aren't for you, it might be better for you to visit in the winter. There is less to do outside during that time when it comes to things like enjoying the beach, but there is still plenty to enjoy. A lot of people like the rugged beauty of the wintertime coastline and the storms that blow through. They enjoy the bracing weather because they prefer to stay curled up inside near a fire with something warm to drink. Some people also like to go outside in that type of weather and see the sights, and there are fewer people there because it's the off season.

In addition to avoiding the crowds you can also get cheaper rates regarding places to stay (and sometimes places to eat and other attractions) during the winter time. The people who own and manage hotels, cottages, and campsites know that there aren't as many people during the off season and that they will have a lot of competition so they lower their prices to get people to come in and stay with them. Especially when you book in advance you can get some great winter deals on the Isle of Wight. Booking in advance can also help you to get better deals in the summer, as well, if you're set on coming to the Isle of Wight during that time.

This article was written by Tom Sangers on behalf of Melville Hall who are a Sandown Hotel based on the Isle of Wight. It is reproduced with acknowledgements to Article Alley.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Back at Rookley - and Small Hope Beach...

Can't believe it's been so long since I last posted (pressures of work) but I was back at Rookley at the weekend with the family, or part of it at least.

Once again there would seem to have been a bit of a shuffle at the top. The mystery of Simon's departure remains and now Danni has gone too, but Charlie is back and seems to be running the entertainment side of things. One particularly good sign is that Island View seems to be holding on to its staff, suggesting that it knows how to look after people which, let's face it, is always good news for the customer. The site also now boasts a tidy fish and chip shop where the little grocery shop used to be.

Another fine carp was landed at the small lake, albeit only 5lbs this time but it put up a tremendous struggle. Sadly I picked the only windy and rainy day from an otherwise glorious weekend to venture forth.

If out and about in Shanklin or Sandown and in the mood for a walk I recommend the two-mile stroll between the two along Small Hope Beach (pictured above), where there are numerous cafés and, if you want to hang around for the day, hundreds of beach huts for hire at about £10-£12 a time.

We're looking to liven this blog up again with regular contributions and features, so if you have anything you'd like to submit, either for review or in the form of an article, then please do let us know.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Rookley again

Just received confirmation of our latest Sun holiday, and once again it's Rookley Country Park. Friday July 10th, for three nights, to be precise.

I'm not sure whether Park Resorts, which was our other preference (Thorness Bay and Landguard) is getting really quickly booked up these days or whether Rookley just offers The Sun more of its holiday allocation, but we seem to end up there every time these days.

Not that we're complaining. Rookley is an excellent venue and we're looking forward to it. July seems a long time to wait, but the fishing as well as the weather will be at its best then.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Three ways to holiday at Park Resorts

Park Resorts offers holiday packages at 37 sites around the United Kingdom, including four on the Isle of Wight.

Whether you want to pitch your own tent, hire a caravan or purchase your own holiday home, Park Resorts offers range of options from its own interactive website. And depending on when you want to visit, you can often find some remarkably good value offers.

On the Island you can choose from Thorness Bay (nr. Cowes), Nodes Point (nr. Ryde), or Lower Hyde or Landguard in Shanklin. All four sites have swimming pools, restaurants, shops, bars and evening entertainment. At the larger complexes there are also daytime activities for the children.

Although most of the rented units are caravans, there are also chalets and now luxurious pine lodges available to choose from.

As well as off-peak being unsurprisingly less expensive than the summer months, usually if you book your summer break earlier in the year there are discounts and savings available.

Click here to visit Park Resorts' website and take a look for yourself today.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Some Isle of Wight Attractions

Amazon World

Amazon World Zoo Park combines an educational experience with the enjoyment of seeing some of the world's most beautiful, unusual and endangered creatures. Learn about conservation and the rainforests whilst observing crocodiles, lemurs, tropical birds and a whole lot more. Watery Lane, Nr. Arreton, Isle of Wight, PO36, 0LX. Tel 01983 867122, Email info@amazonworld.co.uk.

Appuldurcombe House

Striking 18th century house with Owl & Falconry Centre, shop and holiday cottages. Stroll through Capability Brown's idyllic 11 acres of ornamental grounds. Appuldurcombe Farm, Wroxall, Isle of Wight, PO38 3EW. Tel 01983 852484, Email enquiries@appuldurcombe.co.uk.

Arreton Barns

Traditional working craft village with over a dozen craft shops offering the widest range of local produce on the Island. Gifts for all seasons, local farm produces, wines, beers, ciders and liquers. Main Road, Arreton, Isle of Wight, PO30 3AA. Tel 01983 528353, Email info@arretonbarns.co.uk.

Blackgang Chine

Every year hundreds of school parties from around the UK enjoy the many themed areas which comprise Blackgang Chine. Overlooking the South-West "Heritage Coast" of the Island, Blackgang Chine is an exciting mix of rides, cowboys and indians, goblins and fairies and nursery rhyme characters all set in large Victorian gardens. Chale, Nr. Ventnor, Isle of Wight, PO38 2HN. Tel 01983 730052, Email info@blackgangchine.com.

Brading - The Experience

Waxworks Museum with a number of exciting ongoing developments, including the World of Wheels, a discount factory outlet store and a gift shop. A3055, Brading, Isle of Wight, PO36 0DQ. Tel 01983 407286, Email info@bradingtheexperience.co.uk.

Butterfly World

See hundreds of butterlies from all around the world flying free in a natural environment and learn about their life-cycle and development. The exotic gardens are all attractively laid out. Staplers Road, Wootton, Isle of Wight, PO33 4RW. Tel 01983 883430, Email info@butterfly-world-iow.co.uk.

Carisbrooke Castle and Carisbrooke Castle Museum

Over 800 years of history at the Castle at which Charles I was imprisoned. Visit and explore a fascinating mounment to the Island's history and take part in some of the many events that are available for all the family. Carisbrooke Castle Museum, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY. Tel 01983 522107 (Castle) 01983 523112 (Museum), Email carismus@lineone.net (Museum).

Coleman's Farm Park

See and interact with a wide range range of farm animals. Play area, café, tractor trailer rides - a great day of indoor and outdoor fun for the children and for their families. Coleman's Lane, Porchfield, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 4LX. Tel 01983 522831, Email info@colemansfarmpark.co.uk.

Dinosaur Isle

The UK's first purpose-built dinosaur museum and visitor attraction, displaying fossils and life-sized reconstructions of the dinosaurs which once roamed the Island. The Isle of Wight is recognised as the most important site for dinosaur remains in Europe. Culver Parade, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 8QA. Tel 01983 404344, Email dinosaur@iow.gov.uk.

Fort Victoria Country Park

The remains of Fort Victoria now play host to a Marine Aquarium, a Planetarium, a Sea Bed Archaeology Expedition and a Model Railway. An excellent educational resource. Fort Victoria, Nr. Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, PO41 0RR.

The Garlic Farm

Farm and shop producing and selling different varieties of garlic and garlic products, from relishes to beer. The Isle of Wight even exports garlic to France. This wonderful farm shop is well worth a visit. Mersley Farm, Newchurch, Isle of Wight, PO3 6 0NR. Tel 01983 865378, Email web@thegarlicfarm.co.uk.

Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary

Established in 1987 to provide a hope for distressed or endangered donkeys, the sanctuary is open to the public and stages a number of events. Sustained entirely by donations and fundraising, the IOW Donkey Sanctuary offers an adoption scheme. St. John's Road, Wroxall, Isle of Wight, PO38 3AA. Tel 01983 852693, Email info@iwdonkey-sanctuary.com.

Isle of Wight Pearl

The largest range of genuine and costume pearl jewellery under one roof in the United Kingdom. Choose your own pearl - pick an oyster from IOW Pearl's tanks and open it. Gold and silver shop, cafe and spectacular cliff-top views. Military Road, Brighstone, Isle of Wight, PO30 4DD. Tel 01983 740352, Email info@iowpearl.co.uk.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

The largely volunteer-run Isle of Wight Steam Railway began operating trains in 1971 and captured the unique atmosphere of the 54 miles of railway once operated on the Island, most of which has since been closed. All are restored, formerly Island-based locomotives. The Railway Station, Havenstreet, Isle of Wight, PO33 4DS. Tel 01983 882204, Email havenstreet@iwsteamrailway.co.uk.

Isle of Wight Zoo

Home to the largest collection of tigers in the UK, IOW Zoo also plays host to lions, jaguars, leopards, lemurs, monkeys, snakes, lizards and spiders. An educational resource as well as a popular family attraction. Yaverland Seafront, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO36 8QB. Tel 01983 403883, Email enquiries@isleofwightzoo.com.

Needles Park

Pay-as-you-go rides and attractions amid world famous views and multi-coloured sand cliffs. Witness glass blowing at Alum Bay Glass, play junior golf and enjoy a thrilling ride on the chairlift as well as a whole lot more. Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, PO39 0JD. Tel 0871 720 0022.

Osborne House

Queen Victoria's famed palace by the sea. Acres of grounds, play area, horse and carriage rides as well as breathtaking decor. A must-visit for anybody who is serious about our heritage. East Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO32 6JX.

Quarr Abbey

Home of Benedictine monks on the Island. Witness the monks celebrating Holy Mass and praying the psalms or even join them in silent prayer. Shop and café on site. Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 4ES. Tel 01983 884850, Email guestmaster@quarrabbey.org.uk.

Robin Hill Countryside Adventure Park

Set in 88 acres of beautiful countryside and woodland on the Arreton Downs, Robin Hill offers a range of attractions in scenic and relaxing surroundings. Toboggan Run, Time Machine, Squirrel Tower, Colossus swinging galleon, falconry and a whole lot more. Downend, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 2NU.

Seaview Wildlife Encounter

Formerly known as Flamingo Park, this popular attraction plays hosts to a diversity of birds and mammals. One of the largest tropical aviaries ever built in the United Kingdom, with Tropical House featuring amazing water displays. Oakhill Road, Seaview, Isle of Wight, PO34 5AP. Tel 01983 612261, Email fp@iowight.com.

Shanklin Chine

Enjoy the tranquil setting of this historic gorge surrounded by woodland, rare plants and wildlife. With gift shop, tea rooms and nature trail, Shanklin Chine is conveniently located at the end of Shanklin Esplanade. Chine Hill, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 6BW. Tel 01983 866432, Email iowchine@msn.com.

Waltzing Waters

The world's most elaborate light, water and music production. Thousands of thrilling patterns of moving water synchronised with music. Gift shop, café and free parking. Brading Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 1QS. Tel 01983 811333, Email iow-info@waltzingwaters.co.uk.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

From the Isle of Wight to Broadway!

by Angela Sherry

It wasn't until very recently that I decided to research a different branch of my mother's family, having concentrated on one particular branch for the last 20 years or so. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that a former Broadway star and I shared the same ancestor! James Meader, a builder, was very well known in Oakfield, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, during the period 1800-1857, and he and his wife Mary had a total of eleven children. I am a descendant of one of their daughters, Sarah Meader, and a lady by the name of Violet Halling Compton was a descendant of their son, John Meader. John Meader himself was quite a prominent and well known figure on the Isle of Wight, having submitted a successful tender for the building of Ryde Cemetery Lodge.

Violet Halling Compton (later known as Betty Compton) was born at 109 High Street, Sandown, Isle of Wight on 13 May 1904, the only child of Frederick William Compton and Florence Susannah Halling. In 1910, the Compton family moved from the Isle of Wight to the remote northwestern part of the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada, to join other members of the Halling clan who had gone before them to homestead Canadian land. From Saskatchewan, the family moved to Marquette, Manitoba, finally settling in Toronto where Betty started her theatrical career at the Royal Alexandria Theatre, subsequently moving to the Uptown Theatre where her roles included parts in "Pomander Walk," "Scandal," and "Cinderella" which was described as a Canadian offshoot of the venerable British institution of pantomime.

Apparently, Betty's parents did not approve of their daughter's choice of career and wanted her to become a nurse, causing Betty to take her father's car and drive to Montreal with a friend. Her father subsequently forgave her misdemeanour and allowed Betty to remain in Montreal where she secured employment at the Venetian Gardens, the equivalent of a night club. At some point, the lure of the bright lights necessitated a move to New York where the aspiring actress ultimately found stardom on Broadway after appearing as a member of the Ziegfeld Follies in a number of high class vaudeville roles, culminating in a prominent role in the original stage production of Funny Face (1927) alongside Fred and Adele Astaire, as well as Oh, Kay! in 1926. She also had a leading role in Fifty Million Frenchmen which was a musical comedy with music and lyrics written by Cole Porter. This production opened on 27 November 1929 at the Lyric Theatre, New York City.

The Isle of Wight's leading lady was married a total of four times. Her first marriage was to a man 11 years her senior, Toronto-based barrister Charles Stanley Rees Riches. They were married in Toronto on 19 October 1922 when Betty was just 18 years old. Charles Riches later cited desertion by Betty as grounds for divorce. Her second marriage was to Paramount Studios movie director Edward Duryea Dowling in February of 1931. This marriage ended in divorce the following month after Betty obtained a "quickie" divorce in Mexico on the grounds of cruelty. This marriage took place whilst Betty was in the throes of an affair with the man who was Mayor of New York at the time, James John Walker; although the world press always referred to Betty and Jimmy as "friends" when in fact they were a lot more than that. They were going through a rough patch when Betty decided to marry Edward Dowling. Mayor Walker was married to Janet Allen Walker at the time, and had been since 1911, but rumours were rife as to his numerous affairs and a penchant for showgirls, in particular.

Things really came to a head when an investigative committee led by Judge Samuel Seabury forced the mayor to testify and answer to charges of corruption within his administration. On 1 September 1932, Mayor James (Jimmy) Walker was forced to resign office when Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt pressured him into doing so. Eight days later he set sail onboard the Italian ship Conte Grande for Europe. Betty was waiting for him in Paris.

From her home in Miami, Florida, Janet Allen Walker finally sued for divorce, claiming that Jimmy had deserted her on 15 October 1928. Enough was enough. The granting of a divorce then left the way clear for Jimmy and Betty to wed. They were married on 19 April 1933 in Cannes, France. Their European exile lasted until 1935 when they returned to New York City, once they considered the danger of criminal prosecution appeared remote. Neither would, however, return to public life. Jimmy was President of Majestic Records for a while, as well as being employed as impartial chairman of the garment industry. Betty opened a flower shop on Madison Avenue. They adopted two children; one boy and one girl. Unfortunately, this marriage was not to be "third time lucky" for Betty. She filed for divorce in February of 1941, charging extreme cruelty against the former mayor.

Betty's final marriage was to civil engineer and West Point graduate, Theodore T. Knappen whom she met in South America. They married in May of 1942, and became the proud parents of a baby boy in early 1944. Sadly, Betty's happiness was to be short lived. She died of breast cancer in Doctor's Hospital, Manhattan in July of 1944, aged just 40. More than 350 people attended her funeral service in New York which was led by an official of the Church of Christ Scientist.

Former Mayor James John Walker died in November of 1946 aged 65 after suffering a clot on the brain. New York's 100th mayor was buried in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, New York. Betty's father, Frederick Compton, returned to the Isle of Wight in the 1920s. He died on the Island in 1943 and is buried in Ventnor Cemetery. Florence Halling Compton died in Miami in 1959 and was cremated.

In 1957, the actor Bob Hope starred in a movie entitled "Beau James" which was based on the book of the same name published in 1949 by the author Gene Fowler. The part of Betty Compton was played by the actress Vera Miles. Gene Fowler's book chronicled the life and times of Jimmy Walker, and his tenure as mayor. It tells the story of how Walker first set eyes on Betty when she was appearing in a musical showOh, Kay! at the Imperial Theatre in 1926.

This article is reproduced with acknowledgements to the Isle of Wight Family History Society.

Rookley Country Park in February - The Verdict

Having returned and spent 24 hours at home with my family, it seems appropriate to deliver a verdict on the experience that was five nights at Rookley Country Park in the February cold.

Since the recent changes of management each section of the operation now effectively seems to be the responsibility of a different manager, and so several people can take the credit for the service that the Park continues to provide. Responsibility for entertainment rests with Danni, who acts as compere, calls the bingo, organises karaoke and fun nights as well as - as she demonstrated to us on our last night - having a magnificent singing voice herself.

The bar staff are all friendly, helpful, sociable and - just as importantly - efficient, while Tim Oakley continues to manage the fishing lakes to their usual high standard.

The food we had was enjoyable and of a high-quality (I especially recommend the burger which is meaty and substantial and can be enjoyed either plain or with cheese or bacon). For the kids the spaghetti bolognese also does a turn (although it isn't listed on the menu I often ask for, and get, an adult portion).

There were few minus points. As previously mentioned the closing of the Midnight Bar to save on the wages of a member of staff sent the wrong message (during half-term week) about how far the Park's management was prepared to go to make life easier for its guests. And occupants of the small cluster of caravans beside the lake, where we were located, are forced to endure the sounds of industry emanating from the neighbouring trading estate from about 8.00am whether they like it or not. Anybody who can afford to pay a few more quid to stay in one of the Park's beautiful bungalows can be assured that they will be spared this dubious delight.

Other than that any negatives were really driven by the time of year and completely outside of the Park's control - sometimes it was very cold and the fishing was not at its best, and of course in February many of the tourist-facing shops and attractions are closed for the season.

Would we go back? We're checking our calendars for the Easter holidays already.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

From Rookley Country Park in February

For the first time since Isle of Wight Review was launched I am actually blogging from the Isle of Wight. To be precise, from Rookley Country Park where, like everywhere else in the UK at the moment, it is darned cold.

We arrived Sunday evening and shortly afterwards ventured to the Midnight Bar when an in-house karaoke was in full swing. However the room was half-empty and the bar itself closed, with customers having to make their purchases from the restaurant bar and walk them through.

On the Monday though the half-termers arrived in force, and the last two nights have seen us struggle to find a seat. However the winter bar arrangements remain in force, I'm told so as to save on the cost of an additional member of staff. I would guess that on other weeks this would be a prudent economy, but on this week in particular it is a bit of a pain, although the staff that are on are extremely pleasant and efficient.

Another discovery I have made is that Simon (Elvis to some), mine host the last time we stayed here (November 2008), has now moved on to pastures new. I sensed there was a story to be told about this, but as yet I don't know what it is.

Fishing on Monday was a bit of a damp squib with only two modest tench reporting present, but that's to be expected at the time of year. It's still a pleasure to be away on the Island in spite of the cold air and the closed shops.

More to follow when family time allows for it.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Where We've Stayed (Part Four) - Lower Hyde, Shanklin

The fourth park we were located to on the Isle of Wight was Lower Hyde, in Shanklin. Lower Hyde was at the time one of three (now four) holiday parks on the Island that was owned by Park Resorts.

Having only stayed the once at Lower Hyde, for three nights, my memory of the site does not afford great detail. I suppose the best way I could describe it would simply be to say that it is in many respects a smaller version of Thorness Bay. The entertainment, as I recall, was particularly good, although as immediately after our stay we moved on to Thorness Bay for another four nights we saw much of it again, as when Park Resorts brings acts to the Island they often "tour".

One big plus point for some would be that Lower Hyde, unlike Thorness Bay, is not in the middle of nowhere. For those visitors who don’t have their own transport, at Lower Hyde one is not stranded on site for the duration. The park is just a short walk to the charming old town of Shanklin, with its quaint thatched cottages, and a slightly longer but very downhill walk to the equally charming seafront (of course, it’s uphill on the way back!).

For those who like Shanklin, or shopping (there is Lidl and a Somerfield within yards of the site), Lower Hyde is well worth considering.

Friday, 30 January 2009

It's Rookley Country Park...on Friday the 13th!

The problem with Sun holidays is that one can't always be certain that one will be given the date of one's choice.

As it happens we did - our fifth choice!

Friday 13th (of February) is when we head off to Rookley Country Park (see article below) for the first of this year's cheap Island visits.

It's not that I'm superstitious, you'll understand. No, the problem with Friday 13th of February is that I'm away at our low-season timeshare in Portugal until the 14th, so will have to join my family on the Saturday night (for the benefit of anybody who is asking themselves what kind of guy holidays alone on the Algarve before taking the wife and kids off for a £9.50 Sun break let me just explain that, this year, my family were unable to travel on that particular week!).

By way of a little peace offering we'll be staying on for another four nights after our weekend is up by extending our break privately.

I'm looking forward to our first family trip to the Island in 2009. And if you're a 25lb carp reading this, now's the time to go on a diet.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Where We've Stayed (Part Three) - Rookley Country Park

The third place they sent us to was Rookley Country Park, in the town of Rookley which is a little inland of Ventnor.

My feelings were mixed. We had kind of adopted Thorness Bay, and this was completely different. Smaller, and independent - the bar was more of a pub than an entertainment complex, indeed one section was largely inhabited on most evenings by locals enjoying the Real Ale rather than by holidaymakers.

On the plus side, for me, there was a fishing lake. Rather, there were two fishing lakes, but one was the sole preserve (no pun intended) of the serious carp anglers, those anoraks of the thousand-quid rods with the irritating alarms and apparently limitless patience.

I had been quite a good angler as a kid, but hadn't found the time to pursue my interest into adulthood. Shortly before my first stay at Rookley I had made a half-hearted attempt to rectify this omission by purchasing some cheap tackle, but I had never been a carp angler at the best of times. For my first few visits to Rookley I contented myself with the relatively untaxing pursuit of small roach, rudd and perch.

Anyway, the site itself then comprised a few rows of caravans. We were impressed, on our first visit, by the size and cleanliness of the one that had been allocated to us. Despite it allegedly being a Bronze Standard model it ranked amongst the best that we had stayed in.

The site, even then, boasted a swimming pool and a pitch and putt course. In the bar, where as it turned out there was indeed nightly entertainment (including an Elvis impersonator called Simon who was resident on the Island), there was also a pool table. The bar area was sectioned in such a way as to create an entertainment area for visitors and a smaller pub-like area, as mentioned above, for the locals.

We have stayed at Rookley several times during the years that have passed following our first visit. It is now a considerably bigger operation, with a few dozen holiday homes having been constructed where the caravans used to be, and the caravans themselves relocated (in greater number) elsewhere on the site. Owned by the Island View Holidays chain, it now boasts a small shop, a fine restaurant-cum-lounge bar as well as a spruced-up entertainment bar (the Midnight Bar), a children's play area and a very modest mini crazy golf course. By an apparent twist of fate, Simon/Elvis is now the manager!

Last year I stayed at Rookley twice on my own (working holidays, when The Sun gave us dates that were inconvenient to us as a family), and once with the clan. On the latter occasion we were lucky enough to have been allocated one of the new holiday homes, which are simply magnificent. The entertainment is often of a very high standard - on one of my solo visits there was a Madness tribute group (the highly-rated Ultimate Madness) which, despite there being a small entrance charge, provided for a really excellent night.

This upgrade in overall quality, as it happens, has been mirrored (again no pun intended) in my fishing, where despite the cheap tackle and light line which I still use I have somehow managed to land several carp - including fine specimens of 11lbs, 13.5lbs and 20lbs successively - as well as innumerable green and golden tench and not a few crucians.

Rookley has long become one of our preferred ports of call on our frequent visits to the Island, and seems to be going from strength to strength.

Friday, 9 January 2009

It's that time again

The Sun newspaper is running the first of its regular £9.50 holiday promotions for this year as I write.

For us unless we are lucky enough to secure a half-term week that means a short weekend, leaving London on Friday afternoon after the kids have finished school, and returning on Sunday night in time for them to go back on Monday. I always feel a tad cheated when this happens, missing the last night of our booking, but one mustn't be selfish.

This time we decided to let the kids choose and interestingly both of them opted for Landguard, a neat little site in Shanklin of which more another time. Other choices (one is required to list a minimum of four) were Fairway, Rookley Country Park, Thorness Bay and Whitecliff Bay.

There was a time when I felt disappointed not to draw our site of choice out of the hat. Now we feel at home at any of them.

Our tokens go off in the post next week and all will be revealed soon, no doubt.