Joel Bateman is the Communications and Projects Officer for the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Time with the family and the island community are very important to him.
In a professional sense, a lot of the work that I do is based around the conservation and management of the coastline. From a creational point of view, it’s where we come with our kids. We live less than a mile away from the sea. So, it’s our park. It’s our play zone. I’ve got three boys – one’s ten, one’s six and one is three and what they each want to do is very different. One of them wants to go swimming in the sea, one of them wants to build sandcastles, and the other one wants to eat most of it.
The island community is amazing. It is an eclectic bunch of everything you could possibly want from a community. The people who live here, they love the sea. And they want to fight island sort of things. Lots of people talk about separation from the island. They want to be like Guernsey and Jersey and the Isle of Man, having their own governments, and things like that. So, it really is a place that lots of people feel very, very protective about.
It’s a different class system on the island. It’s how long you’ve been on the island. So, people who come over for the day, or tourists, things like that, they’re called Grockles. You then have people like me who have come from the mainland, and we’re called Overners. So, we don’t qualify as Islanders. People who are born here are Islanders. So, my three sons are all Islanders, born and raised on the Isle of Wight. And those people who have been here for generations, they’re called Caulk heads – because in the old clinker-style boats, where you had bits of wood piled over each other, you had caulking in between each of the bits of the wood. So, as the boat swelled when it got wet, it would squish out the caulking and become watertight.
Q How do you feel when you’ve spent time by the sea?
A: Just that little bit more whole. Every day a little bit of the apple’s nibbled away, and then all of a sudden you come to the sea, and you spend time by the sea and you come away completely whole.