Extraordinary Things in Extraordinary Places Or, (More Than) Five On Thorne Island

In September, Nomadic Creatives had the excitement of working with Appsbroker and Brompton on the breathtakingly beautiful and Enid Blyton-esque Thorne Island in Pembrokeshire ready for the adventure of a life time!

Thorne Island, Pembrokeshire was purchased in 2017 by Appsbroker’s CEO Mike Conners, a huge bike polo enthusiast. He purchased the abandoned island, which had been run as a very bohemian bed and breakfast and party island until the millennium. Since then Conners has been working tirelessly to restore the island to its former state of glory, and more so! It’s still undergoing massive renovations with significant obstacles being overcome in order to simply put in a modern, working kitchen. Conners had to hire helicopters to bring over the materials needed to complete the building work as the island is so cut off from the mainland.

His vision when he explored the island was to turn into a unique party central and retreat for exclusive off-grid adventures. Last weekend saw the island put to the test for the first time amid all of the building work to host the Brompton Bike Polo Challenge, sponsored by Appsbroker. We made a video of the event, which was picked up by the BBC (BBC Wales has been eagerly tracking the island’s progress since it went up for sale in 2016) showing the history of bike polo, which is currently making a big comeback.

The crowds and participants arrived on Saturday morning with the match set for that afternoon. Approaching by boat, the verdant island loomed large out of the grey Welsh mist creating a marked contrast when viewed from West Angle Bay (the closest beach and therefore the collection point when being met by boat). It was clear to all waiting to be picked up on the beach that morning that Thorne Island is an extraordinary place where extraordinary things can happen. After clambering aboard the boat, the excitement began to mount to tangible levels. The risk and jeopardy of even getting the island making the members of both Brompton and Appsbroker’s bike polo teams heady with exhilaration hours before the games were even due to take off. At speed the boats crashed through the waves towards the lush and stony island, which was being battered by waves as usual.

Once they had clambered up the steely wave-splashed steps from the island’s rudimentary docking point, the teams found their respective beds for the night in the hotel’s dormitories before starting to prepare for the games themselves by putting on their uniforms and making the garrison’s courtyard ready for kick off.

With much gusto the teams entered the former garrison’s central courtyard ready to start the match. Then they were off. The game happened at break neck speed. The stone walls of the courtyard echoed with the sound of the players’ wooden mallets clonking with loud, dull thuds and excited cheers from the spectators. The camaraderie everyone felt watching, and playing, was distinct in the atmosphere as the players cycled ever fast round and round the compact field.

Post-match the teams and their families celebrated over drinks and homemade paella consumed al fresco on the hotel’s roof where you can wonder at a panoramic view of the sea and the Pembrokeshire coast that few people are privileged to have seen.

All this fun begs the question of ‘why is bike polo not played more’? Certainly, having to change your bike’s chain once in a while is much cheaper than the cost of feeding a horse! Bike polo whether played as part of a keep fit regime, for entertainment, team building or for family time, has a huge reward in its esprit de corps. What’s more the game can be played practically anywhere, as was proved by Brompton’s Bike Polo Challenge taking place on such a remote place as the island. All in all, Nomadic Creatives had a fantastic weekend on Thorne Island and will be eagerly watching the progress of the renovation work.

Thorne Island is open to the public now and is available for bookings on Airbnb.