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Facts

ISLE OF WIGHT

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FUN FACTS

The Isle of Wight is the 46th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
The Isle of Wight has the 47th highest population in England.
The Isle of Wight is in 27th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. It was said that Osborne House on the Isle of Wight was a favourite holiday home for Queen Victoria. However you can go and read about that yourself or even, if you happen to visit the Isle, also visit the House as much of it is open to the public.

    Instead I'm going to tell you of a different royal connection. Islands are by definition surrounded by water and boats sail on water. George IV, who became King in 1820, was interested in yachting. The Royal Yacht Club was based at Cowes on the Isle of Wight and in August 1826 they organised a race off Cowes and another the following day. Seven yachts competed in that first race. The next year George IV presented a cup (cunningly called the King's Cup). After a couple of years the event became known as Cowes week and it has been held every year since, excluding the war years.

    After WWII Cowes week would regularly have a royal competitor. HRH Prince Philip was a familiar sailor, usually sailing in the smallest class known as the Flying Fifteen. He was crewed by an Isle of Wight boat builder called Uffa Fox. When Prince Charles and Princess Anne were younger they could often be seen on the boat with Prince Philip.

    The event is now a fixture, in non-Covid times, on the social calendar. It is one of the UK's longest running and most successful sporting events.

  3. The Isle of Wight Eats
  4. The Isle of Wight has its own cheese making company cleverly called The Isle of Wight Cheese Company. They started making cheeses at a dairy in Queenbower in 2006 and when the dairy farmer retired in 2017, they purchased the dairy.

    The aim, so it says on their website, was to create a variety of small scale handmade cheeses for the island. I really love this idea of a small company being set up for its own community.

    One of the cheeses they make is called the Gallybagger, a name which immediately caught my attention. It is an unpasteurised cheddar type that is 4-5 months old on average. It is pressed into modern Dutch Gouda moulds which give it its continental shape. The cheeses age on locally sourced Lawson Cypress wooden shelves (this gets better) and these shelves help contribute to the moulds that you find on the rind and the subsequent flavours inside the cheese. They use milk from a local herd of Holstein Friesian cows which they collect twice a week. They only make about 100 kilos of the cheese each week so very little leaves the island.

    While continuing my search I discovered that the Royal Hotel in Ventnor on the island makes a rather nice souffle from the cheese. That is the picture that you see. I decided I would have a go to make a souffle and this you can see in the video. I don't think the head chef at the hotel need consider retirement yet. I didn't use his recipe either, for two reasons. One, I didn't know it and that's the second reason too.

  5. Isle of Wight VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in the Isle of Wight in the last 100 years:-
    The late Anthony Minghella (Director/Playwright), Sheila Hancock (Actor), Phill Jupitus (Comedian), the late Sir Vivian Fuchs (Explorer ‐ Leader of First Crossing of the Antarctic), Kelly Sotherton (Athlete ‐ Heptathlon), Jeremy Irons (Actor) and Mark King (Bassist with Level 42).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Elsewhere in this section on English counties, I tell you that Rutland is the smallest county in England. However, for a part of everyday, I have lied to you. Sorry. Didn't mean to but I've just found out that, at high tide, the Isle of Wight is smaller than Rutland. Rutland is 147 square miles and the Isle of Wight, at mid tide, is 150 square miles. The amount that the tide comes in, which actually isn't a great deal on the Isle of Wight does make a difference.

    The Isle of Wight used to be a part of Hampshire but became a separate ceremonial county in 1890. The Isle of Wight is also part of the reason why, unlike most other coastal areas of England, Southampton, in Hampshire, has four high tides a day. I could have made this the "weird" part of Hampshire but chose something else. During our real journey, now planned to start in September 2022, we will have a whole section looking at tides and how and why they happen.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. The America's Cup is one of the best known trophies in sport. It was first competed for in 1851. It was first known as the Hundred Guinea Cup. It was offered up by the Royal Yacht Squadron of Great Britain for a race around the Isle of Wight. The race took place on 20th August and was won by a 30 metre schooner called America and the winners donated the cup to the New York Yacht Club in 1857 for an international challenge competition.

    Since the 1920s the America's Cup race has been between one defending vessel and one challenging vessel, both of which are determined in a separate series of elimination trials. Each competing vessel must be designed, built, and, in so far as possible, outfitted solely in the country that it represents. In 1983, after American yachts (sponsored by the New York Yacht Club) had successfully defended the cup 24 times without a loss since the first defence in 1870, the Australian yacht Australia II won the cup and the right to hold the next competition on their waters.

    There have been various rule changes over the years and the competitors today don't look a bit like those from the first races. The most recent winners have been:-

    • 2000 New Zealand
    • 2003 Switzerland
    • 2007 Switzerland
    • 2010 America
    • 2013 America
    • 2017 New Zealand
    • 2021 New Zealand


    Two New Zealand yachting fans, Cam Malcolm and William Goodfellow, both came from the Bay of Islands and travelled down to Auckland, in a boat of course, to watch the first defence in 2000. The boat they sailed down in, they were going to use to take spectators out to watch the races. While having their bottom scrapped, or something nautical, in a boatyard, they found out that one of the competitors had gone bankrupt and they made an offer for the boat. No, said the liquidators. After two months or so they said yes but Cam and William wanted the plans included in the deal. No, said the liquidators. Two months later they got the boat and plans and set up SailNZ, which, when I was in New Zealand and maybe still now, owned two ex-Cup boats from 2000, which they renamed NZL40 and NZL41. They then offered trips out into Auckland harbour on these boats. How could I resist and I both crewed and steered one of the boats. An amazing experience although weirdly (wrong section) of the 30 people who paid to have a go when I did, only 10 of us wanted to try things out. The others just sat there.



  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I went to the Isle of Wight for a day-trip on my 2nd coastal journey and had been on a 4-day holiday there a few years earlier so not too many memories. I think one of the things that make a visit to the Isle of Wight special is the ferry journey. You feel as though you are leaving England for somewhere else when, of course, the isle is a part of England. I also remember the contrast between parts of the island. On the east and south you have beaches and holiday resorts, in the north are the ferry ports and sailing centres and to the east are The Needles.

    The Needles are a set of three stacks of chalk, there used to be four, that rise about 30 metres out of the sea. The fourth stack, which was called Lot's wife, collapsed in 1764 and was the one which was needle-shaped. At the end of the stacks is the Needles lighthouse, built in 1859 and automated since 1994. Boat trips can take you out around The Needles and, arriving since I was there I'm sure, there is now a chair life ride. No thanks. Heights, remember.

    There are some gun batteries which you can visit as long as it's not windy as the road down is quite dangerous and, in any case, you have to go on foot. Just off the end of The Needles is a shifting bank of Pebbles just beneath the waves and the site of many shipwrecks in the past.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The white-tailed eagle is the UK's largest bird of prey. This bird became extinct in the early 20th century in the UK and the present population is descended from reintroduced birds. There are about 150 breeding pairs at present and they are mainly found on the west coast of Scotland. However a breeding programme on the Isle of Wight now means white-tailed eagles could be seen almost anywhere in England.

    The white-tailed eagle has a brown body and a pale head. It has massive long, broad wings with ends like fingers. It has a short, wedge-shaped tail which you may have guessed is white. As well as brown, its feathers are also cream, grey and white and it has yellow legs. Its beak is long, hooked, powerful and chunky.

    White-tailed eagles will eat fish and other birds, rabbits and hares. They also eat carrion. Carrion is the decaying flesh of dead animals. During the breeding seasons while they are rearing their young, a white-tailed eagle will need about 600 grams of food a day and this drops to about 300 grams during the winter months.

    A white-tailed eagle is between 70 and 90 cms in length, has a wingspan of between 200 and 240 cms and can weigh between 3½ to 5 kilograms for a male and 4 to 7 kilograms for a female.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip to the Isle of Wight check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020