Hampshire on steroids

That’s what the Isle Of Wight reminds me of. Take the nice non Basingstoke part of Hants, pump in the hills in a Pammy style, remove most of the roads and nearly all of the cars and drop ship a hundred tea shops in their place. Being far to lazy to actually understand the history of the island, instead I sought a cock snooping alternative of everything you can find with an Internet connection and a copy of Google.

There are some very serious and well laid out sites taking you through the founding of the population (bloody Romans), the expansion in the middle ages (bloody French), the sacking of the major towns during the almost ceaseless European wars of the 17th and 18th centuries (bloody French again – specially a short one armed megalomaniac) finishing up with peace, harmonisation, Tennyson and tourism (smug Brits).

For those with diagnosed attention deficit, it goes Crops, Smuggling, Smuggling, Surrender, Smuggling, Poets, Tourism, Tacky Piers and some smuggling to finish. Or if you’re striving for historical context, you cannot beat the remendous if slightly over-named “The Isle Of Wight Timeline of History”. A clearly short of things to do Roger Hewitt has cleverly juxtaposed the major events in British History with interesting happening on the island. National events in bold, Island stuff in plain text, my pithy comments in italics

1215e__King John seals Magna Carta at Runnymede
1220c—Rabbits introduced
Is there some link? I must re-read the Magna Carta to check out the constitutional position on rabbits.

1349e__Black Death widespread
1350x__Artillery cannon coming into general use
1350x—Hall House of Chale Abbey farm built by John de Langford
Right. A little known fact in the fight against plague.

1642e__Civil War begins
1642e—Island falls to Parliamentarians with only one shot fired
“You’ll not shoot us!” BANG “Ok, we surrender”

1649e__Charles I executed
1650e—Watchingwell Park still contains “nine score deer”
Charles missed a few then.

1666e__Great Fire of London
1673e—Earliest record of an Island postmaster
Dear Mum, London Burnt down, we’re fine”

1789c__French Revolution puts the wind up the English ruling classes
1790c—Island breed of pig developed
There’s got to be a decent metaphor here. I just can’t think what it might be…

1832e__Reform Bill widens election suffrage and changes political influence
1832e—Population “nearly all more or less concerned with smuggling”
Right about the most important constitutional event is not really of interest to those whose living takes the form of dark nights, lanterns and avoiding the excise men.

1860e—Prince Albert oversees rebuilding of Whippingham Church
1861e__Prince Albert dies

Clearly killed the poor bugger.

1919e__British Empire at its height
1920e__Marconi opens first public broadcasting station

1920e—First council houses built
You can keep your imperialist nonsense, check out our social agenda.

The history stops abruptly at 1945, so I can only assume nothing of interest has happened since.

Our visit saw the Island almost sink under the accumulation of a years rainfall lashing in thirty six hours. This was my nailed up excuse not to ride the bike I’d transported over road and sea, only to clutter up the caravan with it and mount it just the once to fetch a paper. An epic of almost two miles. This didn’t stop me in any way from attending the awards ceremony for those proper mountain bikers who’d risked hypothermia on the Wight Diamond Challenge. I remember little of that night other than significant beer and the real risk of drowning every time one popped out to make space for the next pint.

Regardless of the wet, we left under sunny skies and with some regret having seen not enough and barely scratched the surface of artery hardening confectionery at the aforementioned tea stops. We’ll definitely be back but this time I’m booking some proper weather.

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