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14 Oct 2012

Isle of Wight Literary Festival

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Isle of Wight Literary Festival Speakers

Some of the Literary Festival speakers

The Isle of Wight is already well known for its music festivals, but this year sees the inaugural Literary Festival. Taking place this October in Cowes, the 3 day programme is full to the brim with literary talent from across the country.

A host of stars are appearing in debates, talks, workshops and even children’s storytelling events, so whatever your age and interests, there should be something to catch your imagination. One of the highlights of the festival is the bus tour of the Island, which will be hosted by one of the celebrity guest speakers.

Confirmed speakers include the sharp-witted wordsmith Gyles Brandreth, much-loved actress Celia Imrie and explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who speaks as he writes; beautifully and evocatively.

The Festival is centred around the Grade II listed Northwood House, which enjoys a prime position above Cowes and is set in a beautiful, 26-acre park. The profits from the Festival will be donated to provide much-needed repairs to this historic building.

Given the current economic climate, many of those visiting the festival will be taking advantage of the vast array of self catering holidays, B&Bs and hotels on offer on the Island. The flexibility of accommodation at this time of year is ideal for festival-goers.

Self catering holidays are particularly appealing for families or those on a budget, as the kids’ meal time routines can be maintained and overall food costs can be kept at a reasonable level.

The festival clearly has heartfelt support from the writers and speakers involved. It is hoped that it will prove such a success that it will become a firm favourite amidst the island’s annual festival line up.
Barney Barnes

13 Jul 2012

Isle of Wight Cycling Festival 2012

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The Isle of Wight Cycling Festival is a great way to get off the beaten track and enjoy some of the Island’s most beautiful, unspoilt countryside. Rides vary from pleasant meanders through pretty villages to Cycle the Wight, a 70-mile road route around the Island’s spectacular coastline.

Isle of Wight Cycling Festival

Isle of Wight Cycling Festival

If you are planning to bring your bike, or cycle your bike to the Island, then the Cycling Festival would be a good week to holiday. Apart from the main events there are plenty of shorter cycle rides, usually guided by a local.

The Island Cycling Festival runs from 15 – 23 September 2012 –  see  www.sunseaandcycling.com more information.

For more things to do on the Island see westwightholidays.co.uk

10 Jul 2012

A Good Holiday Read . . .

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Holiday readingWhen the weather takes a turn for the worse, and the drizzle seems to pause only briefly it’s time to take advantage of that other holiday essential . . . a good read.

In case you have not had time to get to your local bookstore, here at West Wight Studio Apartment we have taken the hassle out of that for you by providing a well-stocked mini–library.

It has a good Isle of Wight reference section, recent favourite best-sellers, poetry and many classics are all included, reflecting the owners eclectic and wide-ranging interests.  Some visitors even leave a book behind to add to the collection.

Freshwater Bay is famous for its literary connections so if the weather fails you, curl up on the sofa, cuddle up with the comfortable throws and cushions and get stuck into a jolly good read. You may then  be inspired to walk the Downs and put pen to paper like our famous bard, Lord Alfred Tennyson, who’s home at Farringford House, is just up the road.

NB Yes, we know e-books are the new thing but sorry, there is nothing like lingering over a well-stocked bookshelf!

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10 May 2012

Isle of Wight Pop Festival

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The Isle of Wight Festival is one of the most well known pop festivals in the UK.

Pop Festival poster 1970

Isle of Wight Festival poster 1970

The first and biggest festivals were originally held here in the 1960s and 70s. The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival was held between 26 and 31 August 1970 at East Afton Farm just up the road from the Studio Apartment. It was the last of three big music festivals to take place on the island between 1968 and 1970 and is widely acknowledged as the largest musical event of its time, bigger than Woodstock in the USA.It’s believed that over 600,000 attended the Hendrix festival – on an Island with a population of around 100,000!

Recent festivals are more modest, and better organised!  Average crowds are around 50-70,000 and performers have included The Who, The Rolling Stones, REM, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Pink, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, The Police, Blondie, Snow Patrol, Manic Street Preachers, Jay Zee, Groove Amada, Tom Jones, Prodigy, Kings of Leon, etc, etc.

The 2012 line-up includes Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tinie Tempah, Biffy Clyro, Madness, Pearl Jam, Feeder, Elbow, Noah & The Whale, Noel Gallagher, Joan Armatrading and The Vaccines.

The 2012 Fesival is on the 22-24 June. For more information see www.isleofwightfestival.com

25 Apr 2012

Round the Island Race

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The Round the Island Race is one of the biggest yacht races in the world. It’s a one-day event attracting over 1,700 yachts and around 16,000 sailors,  also making it one of the largest participation sporting events in the UK.

Round the Island Race

Watching the fleet from Freshwater Cliffs

Competitors come from all over the UK,  Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. Starting at the famous Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, the fleet races to The Needles, round St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.

There are many vantage points in the west Wight to watch the race but you need to get up early as the first yachts set off from Cowes at 6am. However the fleet usually reaches Fort Victoria by around 8am and is rounding the Needles between 8 and 10am. Much depends on the direction and strength of the wind, sometimes they get there much sooner! From the Studio Apartment it’s a short walk to the cliffs above Freshwater Bay, for a long distance view of the fleet. For a closer look Fort Victoria or the Needles provide the best views.

The race takes place on 30th June 2012- for more information see the Round the Island Website – www.roundtheisland.org.uk

10 Apr 2012

Paul Blackley – Isle of Wight Wildlife Photographer

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Paul is a photographer and surfer who lives in Freshwater and creates some great images, often inspired by the the local area. But his forte is wildlife photography.

“My passion for wildlife inspires my photography and is a big part of who I am.”

His portpolio contains images of barn owls, hares and red squirrels – native creatures that aren’t so common in other parts of the UK, but are not uncommon here on the Isle of Wight.

He has exhibited at the Julia Margaret Cameron Gallery at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater Bay and has a new exhibition soon.

For more information see Isle of Wight Wildlife Photographer

31 Mar 2012

Tom Jones Performing at Osborne House

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Tom Jones confirmed for Isle Of Wight event

Welsh legend Tom Jones is to headline the Osborne House Summer Concert on the Isle Of Wight on Sunday 29th July 2012.

Tom will bring his legendary voice and catalogue of hits (spanning 50 years!) to the grounds of Queen Vitoria’s Island residence, Osborne House.

Osborne House is set in 1000 acres of gardens and woodland at East Cowes on the north east coast of the Isle Of Wight. It’s one of the Isle of Wight’s most popular tourist attractions run by English Heritage.

Tickets are priced at £40. (A weekend ticket combined with the Steps concert who play on Sataurday night is priced at £60.)

Tickets are available from ticketzone.com.

The Osborne House Summer Concert is usually a good weekend at a great venue, although that might change this year with hoards of riotus middle aged women throwing their knickers on to the stage . . .

24 Mar 2012

Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival

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The Old Gaffers Festival is Yarmouth’s chance to celebrate old fashioned sailing. It’s sometimes called a mini Cowes Week, but this isn’t really true as it’s a much smaller, local and less corporate.

So what is an Old Gaffer? Well it isn’t the old bloke who props up the corner of the bar,  no, it’s an old fashioned, traditional yacht with a gaff rig. Like this:

Gaff rigged yacht

Traditional 'Old Gaffer' yacht

During the festival  there can be over 100 of these in the harbour as well as other visiting sailing, steam and motor vessels, many decked out in bunting and flags for the event. There is also racing . . . apparently.

On shore there is usally a good range of attractions to keep visitors entertained with food stalls, street artists, live music
and of course the beer tents.

This is one of the first festivals of the season and is usually well worth a visit. It’s also a bonus  that Yarmouth is a walk or cycle ride from the Studio Apartment, so it’s possible to eat, drink, be merry and wander back along the old railway track.

Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival is from 25th to 27th May 2012

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18 Mar 2012

West Wight on Coast Magazine

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The front cover of the March Coast Magazine has a great photo of the road leading down into Freshwater Bay. It’s not surprising, as this often photographed part of the West Wight’s Military Road must be one of the most scenic drives in the UK.

Coast magazine Isle of Wight front cover

Military Road into Freshwater Bay

The white cliffs of Tennyson Down make a dramatic backdrop, and Tennyson’s Monument can be seen at the very top of the 500 foot cliff. In the distance the cliffs disappear into Scratchel’s Bay and The Needles, while in the foreground the road drops down into Freshwater Bay.

It is a much used and photographed stretch of road. Jeremy clarkson and the Top Gear team filmed here a few years ago and Billy Connolly had a naked swim just along the coast at Compton Bay in the famous Mrs Brown film, much of which was based at Osbourn House. Most TV programes that feature the Isle of Wight show this view at some point.

So if you are visiting the Island this is probably a ‘must drive’ stretch of road. From the car park (and viewpoint) at St Catherines Down, just above Blackgang, the road follows a 10 mile stretch of coast finishing at Freshwater Bay. It is possible to follow the road on to Alum Bay and the Needles, but its character changes and it becomes more rural and less open,  ending at the Needles Pleasure Park.

If you are staying at the  Studio Apartment this view is a 10 minute walk over Afton Down. I see it most days – from the serene calm of summer mornings to autumn gales when spray from the waves that crash at the base of the cliff is blown over to clifftops.  I never tire of it.

For more information about the West Wight see www.westwightholidays.co.uk

13 Mar 2012

Isle of Wight Arts Festival

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This April sees the return of the Isle of Wight’s most exciting new festival – The Isle of Arts – which is becoming one of the best small festivals on the Island.

Isle of Arts Logo

Isle of Wight Arts Festival

The Isle of Arts is a 3-day festival which runs from 20-22 April 2012 and celebrates music, film, drama, art, photography, literature and comedy.

Based in Ventnor,  the line-up of stars so far are Aled Jones, Sandi Toksvig, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Supertramp saxophonist John Helliwell.

Events include a celebration of Bram Stoker, a great selection of music from opera to southern blues as well as drama and some great stand-up comedy.

Comedienne, writer and Radio 4 favourite, Sandi Toksvig will be hosting an evening of conversation, party games and probably mischeif at the festival marquee on Saturday 21 April.

On the same evening  the Boat House will host an evening of jazz, funk, blues, rock and soul from Supertramp’s John Helliwell and the Crème Anglaise band.

Other artists include raconteur, writer and cook Hardeep Singh Kohliand singer Aled Jones supported by the Newchurch Male Voice Choir and the Hart Male Voice Choir.

You can make advance reservations for tickets via the website. For more information see the Ventnor Festival site – Isle of Arts.