Ryde, like all little seaside towns in the off-season, is a very peculiar little place.
Walking along the bleak and windy seafront, it’s very beautiful – the tide low enough to look like you can walk over the Solent, the wind cold enough to flay the skin from your face. There are follies here, strange towers long unoccupied, deserted funfairs and seaside rides; there are huge estates of derelict property. As the sand blows past your feet and the empty tourist attractions stand stark against the sky, the whole damn thing does just look like its waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse.
My guesthouse is out of time – some vision of the 1950s, with rocking horse and gingham curtains and winding, endless stairs. Sapphire and Steel have been here – it should have a little plaque to say so – or perhaps its from one of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected, and there’s a body in a back room that’s been decaying there for years.
Like the beach, though, it has an allure all of its own.
The island continues to offer oddities – tourism and militaria are everywhere, as expected – but so are endless charity and vintage shops, numbers of harmless loonies in curious hats, and every house seems to need some stone creature or gargoyle lurking on its front porch. Protecting it, perhaps.
Derelict property – and churches – recur with alarming regularity.
Going on holiday by myself has been an experience – kind of lonely (but in a good way) and kind of empowering. Next year, I’m going back to Ryde and I’m filming Sapphire and Steel face the Zombie Hordes.
Move over, Doctor Who – it’s a guaranteed winner!