By Harriet Kent

The days are long and warm, the school holidays are looming, and we hear again that age-old question “What shall we do?”. There seemed to be endless things to do on the Island when I was growing up. My mum always had a good supply of ideas for those sultry summer days.

The holidays felt as if they went on forever as a youngster. Until the dreaded visit to buy the school uniform when ‘Back to School’ posters loomed in the shop windows. 

This meant a trip to Runyards in Freshwater for shoes, the Ladybird shop in Totland for vests and socks, and a trip into Newport to Dabells for the uniform. These days, most shopping is done either online or in one place. Back in the ‘Stone Ages’, we had the time to travel!

After finishing the daily morning duties on the farm, our days consisted mainly of visits to the beach. Either Chilton or Brighstone, depending on how many people were already there and whether there was somewhere suitable to park the car! Mum was always cautious that, if she had to park on the verge, the exhaust pipe of the car didn’t touch the parched grass and catch it alight.

Visits to one of the many ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit farms were also on the list. Our favourite was The Hollands at Hale Common, which was a lovely time gorging ourselves on the lush strawberries. Surreptitiously of course, because the sign stated ‘No Eating the Strawberries’! The raspberries and gooseberries grown there were just as lovely.

There were plenty of PYO places on the Island a few years back, including one just off the main Blackwater Road, Shorwell and Freshwater, to name a few. The one at Shorwell, I seem to remember, also had blackcurrants, but they were rather fiddly to pick!

It seems that most fruit farms offering PYO, have now sadly gone. Perhaps there should be a revival of this good old-fashioned summertime entertainment.  Being outside in the fresh air, topping up on vitamin C and picking beautiful Island-grown fruits – what could be better?