14 October 2019

Visiting The Isle Of Wight Literary Festival

Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

This quote perfectly summarises out trip to The Isle Of Wight Literary Festival. Now in its 7th year this fantastic festival, sponsored by Red Funnel Ferries, was designed to attract a wide audience and increase the cultural richness of the Isle of Wight.
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog

I have loved books and reading since I was very young, from fairytales to fiction novels, encyclopaedias and guides on everything from dogs to the solar system, biographies and self-development books are more my go-to now. And of course I'm a sucker for classics like Dracula - pun intended. I loved book fairs at school, and an old library or book shop still excites me - anyone else love the smell of paper? 

The IOW Literary Festival is hosted in Northwood Howes in Cowes and is spread over 4 days with over 60 new and seasoned writers sharing their inspirations and journeys with avid readers. The festival is a not for profit organisation run by the IWLF Charity and relies on the support of sponsors, benefactors, visitors and friends, and is handled by a team of volunteers. 

We were invited by Red Funnel Ferries to experience the Isle of Wight Literary Festival and we chose to visit on the Saturday to catch a talk by one of the authors: Adrian Hayes. Adrian Hayes is a British record-breaking adventurer, author, keynote speaker, business coach, documentary presenter and sustainability campaigner. He has two Guinness World Records for polar expeditions to his name, and has featured in three documentaries - now presenting his new book, One Man's Climb: A Journey of Trauma and Triumph on K2, at the Literary Festival.

Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog

I have to admit, getting up to wind and rain didn't give me much confidence about the day especially as we were climbing aboard the ferry. I love travelling by water so ferries have never phased me and I'm not so much worried about choppy seas, it's more of an experience when you can get out on the outdoor deck of the ship and enjoy the waves, sounds, fresh air. But hey, you can't have it all right?

Our journey boarding the ferry was simple and seamless - we had our e-passes which we presented at the gate, and then waited a few minutes to drive on to the ship. Once parked, we popped up to the passenger deck and grabbed a coffee to enjoy on our journey. The ferry to the Isle of Wight takes around an hour and goes by very quickly - on sunny days the views are beautiful, and on cloudy days like this weekend we cosied up by the window to watch the rain and small waves.

Once docked in East Cowes port, we boarded another ferry (floating bridge of the Isle of Wight!) to cross to West Cowes where Northwood House is located - this ferry lasted around a minute or two but saves a half hour drive around the water!
Northwood House is a beautiful listed country Manor House - although we didn't enjoy the gardens due to the rain, you can tell that on a sunny afternoon this would be a delightful place for a picnic and a stroll! The house itself is grand and graceful, and is full of history.
The Literary Festival is hosted in the house with a food and drink marquee set up to enjoy a cake (or something more savoury), a cup of tea (or something stronger from the bar), and listen to soft jazz. Isn't that the perfect set up to read a recently purchased book? I think so. In the main entrance hall, authors sign books with warm messages to their readers, local charities and organisations set up stalls, and the information desk provides help and programmes. You can then venture into the set up library which houses the books presented across the festival. We picked up One Man's Climb: A Journey of Trauma and Triumph on K2 by Adrian Hayes ready to read after his talk. The remainder of the festival is allocated rooms for author talks - so remember to whisper and be quiet as you walk around!

Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog

You could easily spend most of the day at the Literary Festival - especially when the weather is nice as you can go and explore the gardens and settled for a picnic with a book; or during the rainy days there is the food marquee/lounge. But you can also dip in and out of the festival throughout the day to listen to the talks you've booked and explore the island which I think is fantastic. We had a couple of hours between snooping around the festival and listening to the author talk so we grabbed lunch and explored near by areas. 

One thing I did notice is the average age of festival goers - it's a shame that I didn't see many people in their 20's and 30's at the festival. Whether this is because not enough awareness has been raised (I didn't know about the Literary Festival before) or whether it is because people have a preconception of travel from Southampton to  the Isle of Wight to be more of a pain, it would be nice to see a range of audiences as there is a range of books to suit everyone.

We also wanted to give a big shout out to Red Funnel Ferries as we realised the talk we attended finished 10 minutes before our ferry departed - so we called the bookings office a couple of hours before the departure and their team helped us rearrange our return back on the next ferry. It was such a simple process - Red Funnel Ferries get massive points for that!

The talk by Adrian Hayes was very inspirational - we can't wait to read his book. It promises adventure, humour, reflection, and inspirational quotes - one I took away from Adrian is:

"Getting to the top is optional. Getting back down is mandatory."

It speaks very true, especially in this age where we're always pushed to climb harder, to the top, without any consideration of the impact we may make on our health or even lives. But that's for another blog post...

Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog
Isle of Wight Literary Festival - Dalry Rose Hampshire Lifestyle Blog

We had an amazing time at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival and I'll be keeping an eye on authors for the 2020 programme. Thank you to Red Funnel Ferries for being so accommodating, even when we got hit with a change of plans. Our trip back from the Isle of Wight was sleepy - we grabbed a hot cuppa and watched the harbour lights of Southampton getting closer as we docked.

Find out more about The Isle of Wight Literary Festival - visit their website: The Isle of Wight Literary Festival
Book your Red Funnel Ferry Isle of Wight Visit: visit Red Funnel Ferries

*This trip was gifted in association with Red Funnel Ferries. Our ferry tickets and the tickets to see the author were arranged by Red Funnel Ferries. All views are my own.
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