EDITOR’S PROLOGUE: Parkrun very nearly got cancelled today due to lack of volunteers. PLEASE help us to stop this happening again, folks. Offer to help when you can, and please encourage your friends and family members to help too. We cannot do this on the small core team of regular volunteers alone, and nor should we have to. Sometimes THEY would like to run too, don’t forget, something NONE of them have the heart to do when they see the roster in dire straits every week! Thank you.
Happy Isle of Wight Day! This is our annual Island celebration of all thing “Oilawoight”, so I thought it would be fun to use this report to shine a light on local dialect, terminology and history. Without further quiddle (fuss) grab your nammit (lunch) and a cuppa, and let me educate you, and I promise there’ll be no ballyragging (bad language)!
Let’s start by welcoming all the grockles (holidaymakers!) who managed to find us even though we have been turfed off our home course at Nippert (Newport) because of the impending Festival. The rest of the 267 strong field of runners and walkers was made up of Caulkheads (born and bred Oilawoighters!) and Overners (non-natives who live here!).
As always there was a full gamut of ages running, so let’s hear it for all the nippers – our very youngest runners today: Filip Anszczak, Isaac Maart, Patience Fleming and Theodore Bishop, and for all the truly inspiring and amazing “not-so-young-but-young-at-heart” 70 somethings, Sue Clerkin, Davids Burton & Brodie, Peters Baulch & Jolliffe, Katharine Roberts, Ian Jolliffe, Eric & Lesley Brown, Bruce Mayo, Jenny Mitchell, Chris Amy and Roger Merry – who is actually only one day into this age group!
A special hats-off to our one and only 80+ runner today, the irrepressible Mr John “JV” Langley. Zoonderkins, he be a bonnygoo lad, that’un! (my word, he’s a lively fellow!). Whether you consider yourself bonnygoo or slouchun (slightly less lively!), you are ALL welcome here!
The one thing we ALL had in common today was mutual flustration (fear) of them there girt drusses (those rather hilly areas), especially the one we have all nicknamed “Tourettes Hill” (I’m sure you found out why!). You have to admit though, it might be hilly, but this course really is stunning (despite the current road repairs being carried out!). It has grassy parkland, twisty paths, woodland, gristy (sandy) sea-walls, beach-huts, a moat, cracking sea views and even a mini-castle for goodness’ sake!
I thought it would be interesting to pepper this report with some interesting facts about things you will have seen on the run today, so let’s start with our venue itself; APPLEY PARK.
The site was once private landscaped grounds (known as the St John’s Estate), above which St John’s House stood from the late 1700s. Lots of the beautiful old oak trees you’ve run past today have been there since that time (and even earlier), and it is not uncommon to see Red Squirrels playing in them. Part of the southern grounds were then sold off and became “Appley Towers Estate” in the 1800s, and Appley Tower itself was built in 1875 (more about that shortly). Whilst the old mansion was demolished and developed for housing in the 1950s, two of the three lodge houses still survive on the West approach to the Park; one of which you ran past a few times today but probably didn’t even realise! The third used to be down on the corner now occupied by the Three Buoys cafe.
A small aside for a moment; we are so sorry about the parking issues today due to the Classic Car rally. We had NO idea such a thing was taking place or we would have warned you all in the week. Very well done to the runners who turned up late (after desperately searching for a parking space) but still wanted to run!
Starting the run in this beautiful park is already pretty special, but then the course takes you onto the sea-front where you can spy – over to the West - RYDE PIER. Some of you grockles may actually have been on the pier today, but did you all know that it is actually the world's oldest seaside pleasure pier? The Victorians loved it and there used to be all kinds of attractions and entertainments at the pier head!
The sea-front is too lovely to dash along, so I wouldn’t blame anyone for being a bit swaailen or swotchel (moving in a lazy manner!) along this bit! In the distance you can spy Spinnaker Tower across the Solent, but closer to home we have our own very lovely and Maggotty (whimsical) seaside folly: APPLEY TOWER.
*Putting on my mortar board, pince-nez and cape for this next bit!*
Appley Tower was built as a miniature castle in 1875 by Hutt family. It therefore features a circular tower, battlements, a turret and an external staircase, and I also have it on good authority that is has Gothic Revival tracery windows, and an oriel window facing the sea. Quiet at the back of the class!
If you prefer things less rackety (extravagant) the simple but colourful beach-huts are always a happy sight, and then we move quickly into the cool shade of the Puckpool Park moat. PUCKPOOL PARK is actually the site of a Palmerston Fort built in 1865, and eventually turned into a holiday camp in the 1930s. Some of the fortifications are still intact, so do go and explore if you get the chance. You can also have a round of mini golf, a game of tennis and a cuppa or an ice-cream at the tea-room whilst you are there!
Away from the sea-views and we are back into the Park again, and it is fair to say the two hills left some of us Crumpbacked and Skitterways (words which speak for themselves beautifully!), but somehow they didn’t stop 10 people getting a PB – including one of our youngest runners, the aforementioned Filip Anszczak, and the first runner over the line Isaac Andrews. I bet they be all twickered now (one assumes they will all be rather weary now!).
The top age-graded score of the day always deserves a mention, and this week that honour falls to Alan Graham from Lordshill (restraining myself from pointing you out as a grockel here, Alan!) with 75.62%. I also noticed that the next highest age-scores were achieved by 60-somethings Alison and Chris Hughes, and without knowing for sure I like to imagine these two are married. If I’m wrong and you two don’t actually know each other, can I just say that clearly you are ideally matched and we can set you up a parkrun date next Saturday if you’d like to meet up!!
Cri-me-gemminy (gosh!), all that running around and fresh air has given me an appetite, so let’s nip off for some nunchen (AKA “brunch”) and reflect on what a lovely place we find ourselves today. Whether your bag is dinosaurs, smugglers, cider, ice-cream, crazy-golf, pub lunches, cliff-walks, gardens, theme parks or beaches... wurrit not (don’t stress!) because we’ve got it all, Nipper!
Happy Oilawoight Day!