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As a regular visiting to the Isle of Wight I often come across to the island via the Hoover Craft from South Sea - near portsmouth. Just about ten minutes the crossing is by Hoover Craft and the landing is right at the centre of Ryde sea front.
On my last visit to Ryde I was shocked to find that the local tourist information centre was now closed. There is sort of a basic tourist information point in the bus travel shop also on the sea front. But the services there are limited. In fact all over the Island the tourist information shops have been closed as a cost cutting measure by the Council. So help for the visitor is limited at the new TI points mainly to be found at the local bus information shops.
so back to Ryde, it's self. Ryde is a popular tourist venue one of the largest towns on the Isle of Wight
The beaches are packed in the summer months. Al down the esplanade there are amusement arcades (too many ?), cheap'sh cafes, gift shops and hotels to match.The view across the solent to Portsmouth is great. Hours can be spent looking at the many ships that pass.
There are good bus, train and car links from Ryde to all the other towns on the Island. The Bus is a very useful way to travel if visiting without a car. The bus services are many, clean and I think good value. Ryde has a number of well signed posted car parks... these can be expensive.
As well as the baech, Ryde boast a large number of Pubs and places to eat. On the esplanade there is also a ten pin bowling, boating lake (peddle swans!) and swimming pool.
Just down the coast is Appley Park in it's self also a popular attraction. Were can play mini golf, sit in the garden and have tea.
One thing to note is that Ryde is VERY hilly - to get to the main shopping area is a steep climb wich ny 80 year old Dad failed to complete. The shops "up Union Street" are fairly basic, charity shops, Boots, etc. The best place on the Island for shops is the captial Newport.
There is also an active night life... and the town centre can at times not be that safe late at night.
Having moved to Ryde, Isle of Wight from the mainland a few years ago I can tell you that compared to living in a city the anti-social behaviour is nothing! I walk into town for meals out in the evening, as do many of my friends and our teenage children. It is a far safer place to live than many, many other places. There will always be people hanging outside pubs having had too much to drink and as a result acting irresponsibly, but security is good around the town in the evening, street pastors patrol on weekend evenings, offering assistance to those who have indulged too much and making sure they don't cause trouble or get into trouble(working closely with the police) Ryde is a lovely place to live, beautiful sea views and great places to eat!
Ryde is one of the largest towns on the Isle of Wight and is a popular tourist destination. It's popularity is helped by it's location as it is on the North coast of the Island and can be accessed from the mainland by either the hovercraft operated by Hovertravel or the catamaran operated by Wightlink. There is also a train station, bus station and many large car parks making it easy to access when on the Island.
I personally do not live in Ryde but have family and friends who do so I frequent the town on a regular basis and even went to school there so I have had many years experience of this town. Ryde is certainly a town with divided opinions both among it's residents and Islanders from other towns. It has a bad reputation for its nightlife and there is often trouble on the streets, mainly on a Friday and Saturday night. There are often problems in large towns with many pubs due to anti-social behaviour and I don't think Ryde is any worse, it is certainly no worse than our overseas neighbour Portsmouth! I have had many a good night out in Ryde over the years however I must admit I do tend to avoid it now for nights out unless it is a special occasion!
Ryde is a typical Island seaside tourist town. Along the esplanade there are many amusement arcades, cheap cafes and tacky gift shops with hotels to match. The sandy beaches are very popular in the summer and there is even an area for beach football which makes for entertaining viewing in the summer! I believe the sand is imported (don't ask me where from!!) to top up the natural sand and is an amazing golden colour, just like a tropical beach! At low tide you can walk for a good ten minutes out to sea in water less than an inch deep. I absolutely love walking along the beach in the summer with ice cream in hand!
Appley Park is another popular attraction in Ryde. Here you can play mini golf, grab a bit to eat in the café or just relax in the grounds with a picnic or bbq. It can get quite busy here at peak times so it is worth while turning up early if you are planning a day out to make sure you can get a parking space. There is a boating lake in Ryde complete with pedal powered swans, oh, and real ones! I swear some of the real swans get a bit too friendly sometimes with their plastic counterparts! You certainly know that summer has arrived when you hear the characteristic creaking of the pedals in the background when sat on the beach! Next to the boating lake is a council run swimming pool. This pool has a retractable roof which they slide back in the summer. I am pleased to say they keep it firmly closed in the winter though!
Ryde does not have the best selection of shops on the Island and every time I drive down the main street I see shops closing and new ones opening! The shops are there to satisfy your basic needs but if you need to go clothes shopping Newport has much more to offer. Ryde probably struggles a bit due to the fact that Portsmouth is only a 15 minute ferry trip away! Ryde does however have a large Tesco superstore on its outskirts which people travel to from all over the Island, including myself! If you can't find what you are looking for in town I am sure you will be able to here, it's massive!
One thing to bear in mind with Ryde it is very hilly! The esplanade is flat however Union Street (known locally as Onion or Bunion Street!) is very steep and here is where you will find all the shops and pubs. Union Street leads on to the High Street which is not as steep but still an uphill climb none the less! When I have gone out on pub crawls in the past I have always started at the top of the hill and worked my way down! It's a real pain though if you run out of money at the bottom of the hill as the cash point is at the top so withdraw before your descent!
In summary I would say that Ryde has everything to offer tourists and residents alike. There is a swimming pool, mini golf, ice skating rink, cinema and plenty of pubs and restaurants. It has a bad reputation for it's night life and anti social behaviour which does affect my overall rating for this town. Visit in the day and you will have no problems!
Ryde is situated on the North-East coast of the Isle of Wight and is the largest town on the Island. As a destination, Ryde offers a decent selection of activities and things to do. There are plenty of pubs (which I took a detailed look at in a previous review), a good range of shops and some interesting Georgian and Victorian architecture to keep the building enthusiasts happy. However, apart from the brief history section which follows (feel free to skip that bit if you want) this review isn't going to focus on facts, as I want to write about what it's like to live in the seaside town which has a population of over 30,000.
A Brief History Lesson
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As a small village in Medieval times, Ryde became a crossing point to the mainland due to its proximity to Portsmouth. Since that time, the population increased at a slow but steady rate throughout the centuries. Ryde saw its most dramatic growth when Queen Victoria took up residence at Osbourne House on The Island in the nineteenth century. These days, a good proportion of Ryde is a conservation area which hopes to maintain the look and feel of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian properties. That said, planning seems to be a bit of a contentious issue recently, and there have been quite a few bland and less than impressive pieces of architecture springing up in the town at an alarming rate.
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Nicknamed 'The Gateway to the Island', Ryde has a good transportation infrastructure and easy mainland accessibility. Links to the mainland come in the form of the Wightlink operated Catamaran which runs from the end of Ryde's 681 metre pier to Portsmouth, and the Hovercraft, which departs from Ryde Esplanade and lands at Southsea.
The buses on the Island are run by a company named 'Southern Vectis' (Vectis being the Roman name for the Island), and although pricey, they run a fairly prompt and frequent service.
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From my description so far, Ryde probably sounds like a decent place to live - but like anywhere, if you dig a little deeper, there are social problems which can ruin the town as a destination. From the identikit groups of hooded teenagers who linger in doorways and line the Esplanade at night, to the drunken violence which has become more prominent in the town over the last few years, Ryde has its fair share of trouble and troublemakers.
Every Saturday night there is an incident in the street in which I live - smashed windows, wing-mirrors ripped off cars, and frequent brawls don't do much to help the property prices in the area. It's a sad sign of society these days when, as a fight breaks out, the urge is to film it rather than help break it up. Drug dealing, peeing up walls and on cars is also a regular sight in the backstreets at the weekends.
Walking along the esplanade in the morning is an interesting experience - you have to hop over the discarded chip boxes, half-eaten kebabs, plastic bottles and vomit which line the pavements - I suppose it keeps you fit having to leap over the obstacles in your path, it's like a waste materials assault course! Although it's a generalisation, the youth of Ryde don't use bins, instead using the floor as one big rubbish tip. I think the police have the power to fine for littering, but it's generally not a power which is enforced.
Entertainment and the Positives
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Ryde's sandy beach is a great place to hang out in the summer; when the tide is out, there are miles and miles of golden sand which gets warm in the sunshine, and is raked by beach tractors which remove stones and seaweed. The sea is generally clean to swim in, and after the tide comes back in over the hot sand in the evenings, the water temperature can often feel as warm as bath water.
There is actually quite a bit to do in Ryde, with the Esplanade alone housing a wealth of amenities. From the icerink to the bowling alley, the swimming pool to the skatepark, you certainly couldn't blame the antisocial behavior on the fact that teenagers have nothing to do.
In terms of shopping, the town itself is a bit of a mixed bag, there are some interesting shops, but the majority are of the identikit WH Smith, Peacocks, Somerfield and Ladbrokes variety that you would expect from every other UK highstreet. The architecture of the town is fairly pleasant, although the chewing-gum strewn pavements aren't that pleasing to look at.
Other things of interest to look out for are Ryde's carnival at the end of the summer (the oldest in the UK) - which, although a bit tacky, has in recent years had some entries from the Notting Hill parade to livened things up a bit. There is also an 'Arts Parade' which takes place earlier in the year which is very similar to the carnival, but in my opinion is a little better.
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Over the years Ryde has had its fair share of celebrity residents - both well known and not so well known. Recently deceased Hollywood director Anthony Minghella ('The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Cold Mountain', 'Truly Madly Deeply') was born in Ryde, and his parents still live on the Island. Mark King from Level 42 is a local resident and opened the popular pub 'Joe Dafloe's' (now shortened to 'Joe's') which is housed on Union Street; and who remembers 'Mr Bronson' from 'Grange Hilll'? Until his death, the actor who played him, Michael Sheard, could often be seen shopping in the town. Sheard also starred in 'Star Wars', and as Hitler in 'Indiana Jones and the last Crusade'. Of course, there are many more famous residents - too many to mention them all, but who could forget the controversial David Icke, who lives in the area and can often be spotted out and about.
In popular culture, Ryde has had a few name-checks over the years; although it has a different spelling, the Beatles 'Ticket to Ride' was inspired by a trip that Lennon and McCartney took to Ryde in the '60's.
Continuing the musical link, Ryde Theatre (also known as 'The Venue') usually has a decent selection of tribute bands playing at the weekends, and occasionally features some original artists.
In conclusion, although I have made it sound decidedly dodgy, on the whole, Ryde is a decent place to live. In the summer it's great, being able to wander down to the seafront and lie on the hot sand whilst listening to the waves lapping at the shore, is a very relaxing experience. It's a shame that the low points I have highlighted occasionally mar the reputation of Ryde, but I suppose many UK towns and cities are blighted by the same negatives, and it's societies problem rather than Ryde's.