Key things happened to me on my holidays to the Island – maybe because there were so many. Holidays that is. I learnt to swim, I discovered my favourite animal, I fell in love with Shanklin and decided what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I started coming to the Island 30 years ago when I was about 3 or 4. We always had 2 weeks except one year when we came back again at the end of the summer holidays for a week. I was thrilled, as my parents never did anything crazy like that – oh, no, hold on a second, except making my sister and I walk from Ventnor to Blackgang Chine up a dodgy cliff face. That was the only time my mum ever bought me chips in the afternoon (overlooking the maze) and only through guilt!
My parents also didn’t have a car so every year we’d get a Rover ticket, which were cardboard in those days and we would spend all day just getting to one place. The buses were great. Let’s face it even now we all really want to sit at the front on the top deck and get the tree branches hitting the window, in the dark, the bus getting faster and faster. I always remember the journey to Blackgang and Alum Bay because you had to change at Ventnor at the terminal, which is no longer there. Shame, I used to enjoy swinging on the bars in the queue. The buses were always packed – the Island was always packed. People had to stand on the bus to get to Alum Bay and all the windows would steam up!
When we first started coming as a family we stayed in the flats, which are now above the craft centre between the Holliers and Village Inn. The lady who owned the flats and the house there, Shirley, had a goat. I think his name was Freddie, she did tell me recently. So of course goats are my favourite animal and Shirley is my next door neighbour!
Once we were too old to be entertained by sending us round to get the paper (I was devastated when the paper shop became a pasty shop, but even that’s gone now) we then stayed at Nodes Point in St Helens. The Priory Bay Hotel (next door) wasn’t a hotel then, but Nodes Point was where I learnt to swim and fell in love with the resident band T-Set.
After many years on the East of the Island for reasons known only known to my parents we came back to Shanklin and stayed at Lower Hyde. Things were different then. People didn’t even think about buying their own chalet!
There are certain things about my trips to the Island that I am sure people must remember, but no one seems to. And I ask enough people. Wally the whale on the green half way up the cliff next to the lift? He was inflatable and you’d go inside and bounce!
There was a lady with a ‘Dulux’ dog on Chine Avenue (before the really fancy new houses went up) collecting money, I think for the blind. The lift operator wore a cap and bell boy suit? Discos on Shanklin Pier. dancing to Brown Girl in the Ring. Ah, they were the good old days.
On the coastal walk to Ventnor there used to be tea rooms, but it’s now a private house. I spent my last ever pound note in Blackgang Chine, on some gems. And I had the worst sun burn of my life here – again bad parents!
Some things are still the same. The lift still smells the same, the Old Village still looks like fairy land, the landlord of the Crab Inn is still the same (OK so that was when I was 18) and the beach is still beautiful. St Saviour’s Church is still scary has hell when you walk past it at night and ……..
I have memories upon memories of my time here as a kid. Oh, and what I wanted to do when I grew up? Move to Shanklin of course.