Golden sand, Scandinavian girls - but no major chains

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I’ve just entered my 18th year of living on the mainland. I still remember that Sunday evening in January, sitting with my cup of tea looking at the island get smaller and smaller.

Meanwhile the lump in my mouth grew bigger on the car ferry taking me to my new life.

Many of my friends are envious of my upbringing on the Isle of Wight – and I can see why.

My summers were spent on the beautiful golden sands of Ryde, with winter walks across the downs overlooking the English Channel or beach walks on the battered shores of Freshwater Bay.

Summers were extra special in my teenage years, as more than one million visitors arrived each year, including thousands of beautiful blonde Scandinavian girls who would stay with local families for the school holidays. We nicknamed them Smurfs.

But don’t think we had it all easy on the island. Oh no.

Yes, we did have running water and mains electricity, but there were many things we lacked.

Mum used to blackmail me to join her for a shopping trip to Portsmouth.

With no major chains on the island, Ladies Realm didn’t cut the mustard for her.

So a trip over on the ferry and a treat at McDonald’s was enough to acquire my company.

After our first Maccy D’s branch opened in 1987, she had to go alone!

It wasn’t until 1994 when the first Marks & Spencer opened that the big brands arrived.

Before that most of my clothes came from Fields Menswear, an Isle of Wight take on Fosters Menswear!

I remember the buzz when the first escalator on the island began operating in the new BHS store.

My nan spent the day travelling on it and it was the top story in the local newspaper at the time.

So less of the jealousy please. The island is still without an Asda or Burger King.

There are no nightclubs and on Christmas Day you are virtually marooned.

These days I find that the island is a lovely place to visit, but it’s also very nice coming back home to the mainland!

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