I’m not sure exactly where my obsession with the Isle of Sheppey came from, but I can certainly attest that I had my first ever “lads holiday” there. Twas 1996, and my friend’s grandparents were of a generation when British seaside towns were the shit, and it did not get much more British seaside than Leysdown-on-Sea.
Said grandparents owned a caravan, and 5 of us collected supplies and headed off for a weekend at the seaside. I don’t remember all that much about the trip aside from getting kicked out of a pub for being underage, getting stoned a lot, and the fact that almost all of our food was pork-based (much to the ire of the Jew and the Muslim that joined the trip), but for whatever reason Sheppey became etched into my consciousness.
There was another amusing event that further etched Sheppy into my brain and that was the spoof website www.SheppeyScum.com, which shone an altogether not too flattering light on the island and the locals itself. Fair, or not, it painted a grim picture of British seaside resorts way past their prime, with Sheppey being easily interchangeable for places like Margate and Skegness.
Incidentally, my obsession runs so deep, I now own said domain which I amusingly point towards my tours of Chernobyl. One day hopefully I’ll write a guide to Sheppey. We shall see.
From a contemporary point of view whenever I am back in the UK I always take at least one trip to see the Swampies (as the locals are called), spend some money in the arcades, have a pint at the “fun pub”, walk along the beach, and of course eat fish and chips. Whatever you say about the Isle of Sheppey, they have damned good fish and chips.