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Michael’s Travel Diary

Monday, 06 Aug 2007

Location: Cowes, IOW, England

MapAfter weeks of gray clouds and drizzle, and yes, it is supposed to be summer over here in England, the skies cleared and we were welcomed with some more fabulous weather. It didn't take long for me to put 2 and 2 together and figure out the last time the weather was any good in this country was the last time I spent the weekend on the Isle of Wight – June 8th - 10th for the Isle of Wight Festival.

Late Saturday morning, Nat, Cari and I headed to the Red Jet ferry terminal and proceeded to wait 45 minutes for the ferry, such was the demand for getting to the island, and the traffic in the waterway between Southampton and Cowes due to the regatta. Taking the seat on the right side of the boat afforded us the best views of the regatta as we pulled into Cowes. Immediately, we headed to Tiffin's of Cowes for a feed and a drink for lunch. After lunch we wandered up the the coast line towards Gurnard to see what we could make of the sailing. One thing is for sure, it isn't much of a spectator sport when you're standing on the coast line, there's 1000 yachts sailing around in 100 different races, in 50 different directions. As such we watched the yachts for a bit, then headed back to town.

As we passed the point, the cannons fired repeatedly signaling the finishing of a number of races. On the way back into town, we ran into Laura from work and James, and made plans for a BBQ at their place for dinner. We grabbed ice-creams, and then, as my company for the day often tends to do, we headed to the Mumm Cahmpagne Bar for a few glasses of bubbly. The whole atmosphere kinda reminded me of a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival on water... and with a few less people. Having said that, the price tags were pretty similar, or actually, blown out beyond all comprehension. The Mumm Champagne bottle (yeah, it was real French Champagne) went for 38 a quid each, and if you figure that one out into Aussie dollars, it works at at $95 a cork.

So with three bottles between the five of us (Me, Nat, Cari, Laura and James) we whiled the sunlight hours worrying about getting burnt (yeah, believe it or not, the sun was that strong). Somewhere along the way, I broke another pair of sunglasses. That takes this years total up to five I believe, one at the IOW Festival, a few at Pamplona, and finally a pair at Cowes Week. The main problem, these weren't a 5 pound or 5 euro pair of festival sunnies, these were the 115 pound, or US$180 Oakley's that I bought in New York in December last year... ouch. Rumor has it though, I letter and the two pieces of the glasses sent along with the receipt will result in a replacement pair being sent out.

Anyway, as the afternoon wore on, and the sailors came in off the water for a night of partying, we left the marina at Cowes Yacht Haven, grabbed some more food and a few drinks for a monster BBQ at James and Laura's. James had decided to thaw every piece of meat in the freezer, so we were left with sausage, hamburgers, steaks, prawns, chicken and a fist full of chili garlic mushrooms to cook on the BBQ. Laura also had to cook two roasts and a curry just to use up all of the meat that was thawed! A few beers on the terrace balcony, overlooking the water, and watching the Blue Eagles helicopter show, and soon enough the sun had gone down and the town was in party mode.

We headed back to the marina and paid the 5 pound entry fee for the night (after 6pm... though by now it was closer to 10pm). The place was jumping, and the big Fosters beer tent was doing a roaring trade. They had a cover band playing, with a name something similar to Earth Wind and Fire, and they kept the party kindling. Frankly, I was enjoying the DJ more. Eventually it hit just after midnight and Nat, Cari and I made like Cinderella and headed for the ferry before it turned into a pumpkin. A brief wait at the ferry terminal in Southampton and we managed to snare a taxi and headed home. A very full day, and it really was good fun – damn expensive, but worth it!

Anyway, the party is going to continue all week long, and there is no letting up if this afternoon is anything to judge by. For the first time in my entire time at GKN, the ferry was full on the way home, and I actually had to wait for another ferry. Having said that, instead of just having the two ferries running back and forth between Southampton and Cowes, they had a third ferry on, so the wait was only an extra 15 minutes than normal.

So, as long as the sun stays out, I think I will be enjoying life again!