Bestival is Back!

Although the weather recently has been a bit grey, it won’t be long until the Island will be lit up by the whimsical escapism that is the four day long Bestival party.  The magic of Bestival is that it’s not all about the music, so even if you’re not crazy about the headliners there is no shortage of exciting things to do and see. WI Love Bestivalith Rob da Bank and Josie aiming every year to top the previous, even if you’re an experienced Bestival veteran, it is guaranteed there will be something new for you to enjoy.  Here are a few of our favourites from Bestival’s wondrous world of discovery and adventure!

Pig’s Big Ballroom is certainly a Bestival institution, dedicated to the late Radio 1 DJ John Peel who, every night, used to play a ‘Pig’s Big’ 78. If you’re after a new experience then you should definitely go old. Trust us, once you venture inside you’ll be dancing to rhythm and blues, swing and rock-a-billy all night long!

Caravanserai is a relatively new Bestival installation, but once you step inside you’ll wonder where it has been all your life. Wander into the bri-a-brac camp built from old vehicles, amusement ride parts and other curious objects. Get comfy on an old Waltzer seat and sip a drink from Caravanseraithe carnival themed bar. There is even a small stage decorated with vintage suitcases and lamps. Who knows what exciting circus acts Bestival will have planned for you this year?

If you’re after some down time, the Solace tent is Bestival’s best kept secret. Sat on top of a (very) steep hill you can free – that’s right, free – hot drinks and cakes. All the cakes are homemade  and donated by churches across the Isle of Wight.   Beware, that hill is pretty steep, they really make you work for it! However, you won’t be disappointed. Once you’re at the top you get an amazing view of the entire Festival; and when the sun starts to go down it’s the perfect place to take in the beauty of all the lights.  The friendly people at the solace tent even lay out blankets, cushions and little tables on the grass so you can take a seat. They leave pens and pencils on the tables so you can scribble a message to the next weary Bestival-goer!

The Ambient Forest is by far the one of the best things about Bestival. It’s an idea that even the Isle of Wight Festival has started to copy – Ambient Forestbut no one does it as good as Rob and Josie da Bank. Venture in as soon as the sun goes down, you’ll discover that the whole forest has been illuminated with string lights and lamps of varying colours. It’s highly like that you will get lost among the trees, but that is all part of the fun!  There are always curious things to find such as a hammocks, foosball tables and even a neon ping-pong shack. You may even come across a curious assortment of characters, dance troupes and actors. Somewhere deep in the forest is the Amphitheater. Here you can catch live acts and even a movie or two.

A new addition for 2014 is the Oberon’s Observatory. The Bestival website describes it a ‘ramshackle but beautiful edifice with a stargazer’s viewing platform’. Apparently there will be ‘bestiscopes’ and even a hidden old projection room. Whatever it is, we’re excited to explore it.

Come on then Bestival, we’re ready for you!

Cowes Week is Upon Us!


Although I’m run off my feet in the shop during Cowes Week, there is really nothing like the atmosphere it brings. All the people and the music, it’s brilliant!

Mel, Manager of Grace’s Bakery Cowes

It is that wonderful time of year again when Cowes really comes to life. Over the next six days, both the waters and the streets will be filled with over
100,000 people excited to watch, or take part in, the largest sailing 2733801238_86acd5f518_bregatta in the world…and we can’t wait to get in the mix! Looking at the schedule, there are lots of things we’re looking forward to this year.

Top of our list has to be Family Day on Sunday 3rd. With an abundance of free and discounted activities and events, all of the family will be able to make the most of Cowes week. Throughout the day Wight Stars will be holding circus and theatre workshops at the Cowes Yacht Haven; and for those ‘cut and pasters’ out there, children’s flag making, colouring and painting competitions will also be taking place throughout lunchtime. If you’re brave, Jack FM will be holding air guitar competitions and a buzz-wire challenge on Cowes Parade. You can also get the whole family out on the water with UKSA, where they will be offering one hour sailing tuition for just £5 each!

We're celebrating Cowes Week with our 'Crew Special' Meal Deal!

We’re celebrating Cowes Week with our ‘Crew Special’ Meal Deal!

There are tons of events and activities to keep an eye out for throughout the week. Ladies Day on Thursday 7th will be celebrating women in sailing, where they will be awarding a trophy that recognizes the outstanding contribution, commitment, or achievement of women in sailing. Throughout the weekend there will be the chance to climb the mast of the Gypsy Moth IV or you even enter a team into the Gutter Boat Racing competitions.

Northwood House will be holding some offbeat experiences too. New for this year is a giant 100ft wheel, providing a stunning view of the Cowes Week action across the town. If all the bustle  gets a bit too much for you, Northwood House will be hosting some great chilled out experiences. There will be yoga in the stables, a vintage afternoon tea party by Wight Vintage, a chilled out Lawn Lounge complete with live music from Platform One and even an outdoor showing of The Goonies.

We’re  especially excited for the music this year, with bands from a broad range of genres there is definitely something for every taste. Cowes week provides a chance to listen to some fresh sounds from local up-and-coming bands. One notable act, however, will definitely be Fleetwood Bac on Sunday 3rd. Fleetwood Bac are (obviously) a Fleetwood Mac tribute band that have played all over the place, including the Bestival main stage last year. They are even endorsed by Mick Fleetwood himself – worth a watch!

Certainly lots to get excited for! In celebration of Cowes week we’re offering a great ‘Crew Special’ meal deal where you can pick up a sandwich, doughnut and a drink* for just £3.50 or go large and get a sub for just £3.99! Come pay us a visit during Cowes week to get yours!


Looking almost Tropical

*Water or canned drink



Did the Isle of Wight Invent the Doughnut?

Our little Bird Nests

Our little Birds Nests

The truth is we can’t really be sure, but there is an interesting story behind the claim! The doughnut, as we know it today, is of Dutch origin; stemming from ‘olykoeks’ or ‘Oil Cakes’.  Originally these oil cakes were just that – balls of cake dipped in oil and fried until golden brown. However, the centre didn’t quite cook as fast, leaving a doughy middle. To solve this, the Dutch filled the cake with fruits, nuts or other things that didn’t require cooking. These olykoeks quickly became popular in America and across Europe, where they began to transform into many different varieties. Meanwhile, however, the Isle of Wight was developing its own doughnut, independent from the Dutch creation. Whether this was happening before or after the invention of Olykoeks is so far unknown. The Isle of Wight Doughnuts are different from their Dutch and modern counterparts in that they aren’t actually filled in the centre. Locally known as ‘Birds Nests’, the Isle of Wight Doughnuts tend to have currents, candied peels or plums mixed in. We’ve chosen to recreate our ‘Birds Nests’ using currents, mixed fruit peels and a variety of spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon.

If you would like to know more about Isle of Wight doughnuts, tune into BBC Radio 4 on the 16th of August at 10:30am. Our ‘Birds Nests’ are going to be featured on the Gardener’s Question Time and The Kitchen Cabinet show, hosted at Northwood House. So, what are you waiting for? Taste a little bit of Island history!