Want to stage a fab party?It's the fort that counts

There comes a point in life when you realise that you aren't getting invited to weddings any more.

Wednesday, 27th July 2016, 6:01 am
No Man's Fort

Most of your friends who are going to tie the knot have done so and the others won’t bother now.

Then there’s the 40th birthday parties, happening one after another. Then you blink and suddenly you’re being invited to 50ths.

Exactly halfway between these two ages, I’ve realised that I haven’t been to a 40th in years. I’m running with a much older set.

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And lucky me, as one of them decided to hire No Man’s Fort in the Solent last weekend and treat us to the most spectacular birthday party.

Isn’t it something to get your gladrags on and head to the ferry – a group of you, early afternoon, well aware that everyone else is looking at you and wondering what’s so special about you?

I made the most of it, pouting as best I could while my make-up slid off my face in the heat.

The trip to the fort hotel takes a hair-destroying 30 minutes, but once there the view is spectacular.

Perched in the Solent, there are impressive tankers and cruise liners passing a stone’s throw away, the Isle of Wight is almost touchable and the sky is mighty in its width.

The fort is a feast of curved rooms, stuffed with eclectic furniture and decorations not in keeping with its historical context, but somehow marooned in the middle of the sea.

A pole dancer’s nook, a laser quest warren in the basement and a replica French café in the centre are a few odd examples.

It was a wonderful party, which was lucky, as you can’t sneak away and feign tiredness or babysitter needs when you’re stuck in the middle of the water.

I have new-found skills at bar billiards too. Turns out I’m pretty good, though whether that was a gin fuelled one-off remains to be seen.

If this were a hotel review, the place would get five stars because of the location (not necessarily the presentation), but as a party review?

Well, that’s a definite million stars as it was super fab.


I have been struggling with Mark Cavendish’s decision to leave the Tour de France to get ready for the Olympics.

It’s still sitting ill with me. So much so that I don’t think his stage wins should stand if he doesn’t complete the entire course.

Leaving due to sickness, or crashing, or compassionate reasons, make sense to me.

But leaving to compete in something else?

That implies that you can join in without ever intending to see it through, so why bother?

The beauty of Le Tour is its unrelenting punishment – day after day.

Otherwise it surely becomes a series of one-day rides.

Why even bother starting when you just want to ride some of it but not all?


I found the biggest, scariest-looking jellyfish on the beach the other day.

It was a silver-white one with fat tentacles, the inspiration for all those alien films.

There is something very compelling about these beasts of the ocean – and a compulsion to poke them to see if they’re still alive, or if they’ll sting you.

My fingers were itching to have a fiddle, but luckily my brain also itched and told me not to bother as the dog would no doubt take an interest and where would that end?

I looked up jellyfish to see if I could identify it, but there are thousands of them so I failed at the first hurdle.

Luckily enough there aren’t many in local waters.

Having seen the size of it, I’m very glad this beautiful but scary creature is not thriving here