The Isle of Wight has been home to many a famous person over the years. Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria holidayed on the island while gardener extraordinaire Alan Titchmarsh and former snooker presenter David Icke are current islanders (ok, probably best not to mention the latter)
Following in the footsteps of these illustrious 'caulkheads' (Isle of Wight natives) came the 18 hardy souls of the Walnut Taverners.
Rendezvousing at Dublin Airport the eclectic mix of cricket talent flew to Southampton where on the first evening the team enjoyed a T20 clash between Hampshire and Gloucestershire. The home team romped to victory on a balmy summer's evening on the South Coast of England.
Afterwards the Walnuts pub crawled and Uberred back to the hotel for a pre last orders Hotel bar night cap.
The following morning our intrepid tourists departed for the Isle of Wight to play back to back matches in a three team tournament.
Arriving at Porchfield CC shortly after lunch, the Walnut Taverners took to the field against the host side.
The Walnuts had Porchfield under early pressure with Colin striking in the first over, trapping the opener plum lbw. Tight bowling by Liam continued to pressure Porchfield but eventually their young middle order put bat to ball and accelerated to 164.
In reply the Walnuts struggled to maintain the run rate with only Liam looking comfortable at the crease.
In the second game against the Seacourse Racqueteers, the South Coast club were incentivised to catch a 7.30pm ferry to Haling Island and unfortunately made light work of the Walnuts bowling, despite Liam's earlier stoical batting and a solid double figure score from Damian
After an evening in Ryde where one or two or ten hostelries (combined with a dodgy karaoke bar) were frequented by the tourists, the following day the Walnuts made their way to Ryde CC. In an idyllic setting on the east coast of the Isle of Wight the going proved tough for the Walnuts despite another accomplished innings by Liam and a solid 12 from Eddie.
Defending a low score, the Walnuts bowled and fielded manfully with spin king Eric returning figures of 1-3 off 3. The Walnuts one wicket was that of England Disability Cricket legend David Lloyd - a charming man with a penchant for Guinness no less.
Afterwards the Walnuts enjoyed a wonderful meal in a local Italian (with one or two more adventurous tourists going down the curry route).
The final morning return leg to Dublin involved a bus, a floating bridge, a ferry and several taxis before departing Southampton Airport for home soil.
Huge thanks and gratitude must go to Brian for his organisation, patience and local expertise, which added to the experience for all. His knowledge of Southampton and the Isle of Wight ensured the tourists were always well informed and well accommodated. Thank you Brian.
Ryde CC and Porchfield CC were wonderful hosts, with immaculate grounds and pitches and also provided some of the greatest cricket teas the writer has ever enjoyed (even after the writer polished off several breakfasts on every morning of the trip....ahem).
It's fair to say the Walnut Taverners are now committed islanders and all look forward to perhaps one day returning to the island.
We are all caulkheads now.
Pics to be posted