Ryde, where you walk (unless you catch the train, hovercraft, bus or cycle obviously…)
Isle of Wight Guru, Robbie Lane, shares his take on the ‘eight wonders of the Isle of Wight’. Guest opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publication. Ed
There’s a crusty old tourism campaign called the ‘Eight wonders of the Isle of Wight’.
You’ve probably seen it on faded postcards with the edges curled up in seaside esplanade souvenir shops. There’s even an odd CBBC sketch about it.
It starts off with the fairly witty ‘Needles you cannot thread’ and ‘Cowes you cannot milk’ before slowly running out of steam and sounding like someone is making up the last few off the top of their head.
“Umm…Winkle Street where there are no winkles?”
“Errr…Newtown which is old?”
“Brading, where this is no braiding?”
Obviously I made that last one up.
Name eight Richards
It reminds me of a game played by Richard Herring on his Leicester Square Theatre podcast where guests have to name eight people called Richard they’d like to live on a desert island with.
Everyone starts off with witty answers for the first three and then runs out of ideas by about number five or six and the whole thing peters out.
A little ripe?
According to this guide, the ‘eight wonders’ of the Isle of Wight date back to at least 1908, so I’m going to risk controversy and trolling by suggesting that it might be getting a bit ripe by now.
I cringed a little bit when I heard it during an (otherwise excellent) open top bus tour this summer.
Gimmicky and naff
As an early 20th century postcard aimed at gentlemen with top hats it’s quite witty, but surely we can think of something that will actually draw people to the Isle of Wight rather than a few weak puns which just tell you that there isn’t any water in Lake (which doesn’t actually make sense for a seaside town).
It makes the Isle of Wight sound a bit gimmicky and naff, rather than highlighting the amazing coastline, the royal history, the dinosaur discoveries or the summertime festivals.
A compact version of the UK
I’m a much bigger fan of promoting the Isle of Wight as a compact version of the UK.
Now, I know that’s not an especially new idea either but it’s a real selling point that you can have half a dozen very different days out during a week’s holiday.
Most English resorts offer you just one stretch of fairly similar coastline to explore over a week. The Isle of Wight has a much bigger range, all of which are within 25 minutes if you stay in the middle of Island and don’t get stuck behind a tractor or burst a tyre in a pothole.
Beaches which are only a few miles apart feel like completely different places. Tourists should be encouraged to visit Shanklin or Appley on a busy day and then one of the isolated South Wight bays the next.
And so, I was rather pleased to see this cheeky bit of marketing from Visit Isle of Wight:
I could possibly get into a spot of bother over this! Well, "all's fair in love and overseas destination marketing" pic.twitter.com/Gdh5xFvtb5
— David A Thornton (@DavidAThornton1) November 5, 2016
OK, so perhaps Carisbrooke Castle isn’t quite the Tower of London and our hills aren’t as dramatic and rolling as the Peak District, but if you’re a foreign visitor to the UK with a couple of weeks to explore, it’s an appealing idea to get a taste of several counties in one go.
More to offer
There are others too.
Seaview and Appley at low tide always reminds me of Lincolnshire’s east coast with its big windswept beaches.
Steephill Cove and Castlehaven/Reeth Bay feel like small Cornish fishing bays.
Shanklin has the sunshine of Eastbourne (allegedly).
Priory Bay and Whitecliff Bay on the right day look like… actually, I can’t think of anywhere in England that looks quite so paradisaical.
And, of course, we’ve got the red squirrels of Brownsea Island and the Lake District.
Surely that’s more appealing to potential visitors than ‘Lake where is no water?’
Image: Eight Wonders postcard © Wight Index
Image: Ryde Pier © Isle of Wight Guru