With the exception of Clive we were all in the Wight Mouse Inn at Chale and breakfast was certainly an experience. The staff member was perhaps a little over excited, although I think he caught the mood of our group perfectly, so I have no complaints. Nor does Boris Becker.
The breakfasts that came out were nearly entirely wrong, but that almost seemed part of the fun. It transpired that when Bev’s breakfast was corrected (as there was missing black pudding) the staff member forgot to bring out the black pudding which was missing from the original meal, so there were mistakes on top of mistakes. However, it didn’t matter, the food was decent and the service was engaging and fun. Very lovely.
Then Gordon did something strange. He forgot his water and rather than walk the 75 metres back to the hotel, he walked 50 metres to a private residence. He asked them for his water and they obliged. Then Katherine, thinking Gordon might have actually been staying where he was getting water, then tried to use their toilet. Goodness only knows what that poor householder thought was happening.
After forgetting that Ross didn’t know the way to the church, we sent Bev off to investigate matters and she found him loitering. We had an enjoyable look around Chale Church, which was full of architectural challenges and conundrums. There were some signs to help us understand it, but in essence it’s a chapel which grew in size over the centuries as more money became available. After Ross had finished his excessive look at the church, it was time to move on.
The walk went past the amusement park of Blackgang Chine and the beautiful views over the coast continued. We walked to St. Lawrence and could see the massive landslips which have taken place over the decades, which includes the cutting off of one of the island’s coast roads. My camera also went some interesting places, which Gordon kept recounting throughout the day.
Some of the group stopped at Katherine’s parents where they kindly offered those there tea and coffee. Me being me and wanting to stick to my arbitrary deadline, went with Ross to Ventnor and we stopped at the Spyglass Inn. Susanna got a bit lost and had an ice cream and the others turned up soon afterwards.
Gordon was in one his funny moods and seemed to be a bit awkward, but we’re used to dealing with that. I’ve been specially trained in communication skills, so I was able to ensure that he was more than happy again. The food at the pub was good and the real ale selection was, well, acceptable without being extensive. I say the food was good, I had a pack of Bacon Fries, but the others looked good.
From lunch it was then onto the hillier regions of the island, although not before we stopped at Old St Boniface Church. This simply magnificent little church dates to the eleventh century and is packed with character and has what might have been the original door. I had scheduled this little trip into my timings and managed to get an excellent amount of exploration done and a local church member gave me a little tour. Very lovely.
Gordon, who is verging between delighting and horrifying me, came to collect me as he didn’t want to walk off as Bev did. Fortunately Gordon is a gentleman, so we proceeded with our little walking adventure.
The walk into Shanklin was uneventful, although Bev sat on me but fortunately nothing got broken. Gordon, back to top form, bought Liam and me a lovely ice cream at some tea rooms and Bev sat there giggling whilst she ate and drank her afternoon tea and scones. I’d add that Liam was particularly pleased with his two scoops of ice cream, but I’m not greedy, so I just had one. The service at the cafe was friendly and helpful, but it was slower than the implementation of Brexit, so we were there for a little while.
We got back to the hotel before it started raining, with Gordon and Ross being at the most expensive accommodation. Gordon spoke very highly of it, saying that it was like student accommodation, although he was clearly a student at some very exclusive locations.
The restaurant that I picked was the Old Corner Bank and this was a quirky former, well, bank, which has been turned into a pub and restaurant. The service was excellent and although we had quite a wait for the meals, they surpassed our expectations and were good value for money. My fish and chips was a decent size portion, the fish flaked away nicely and the batter was fine, so all in all a perfectly acceptable meal.
But, I at this point need to mention that Richard May is here, the highlight of the trip for Ross. Ross was so excited that he just stopped and stared at Richard for a few seconds, partly delighted and partly just relieved that he had made it.
After the restaurant we went off to The Castle Inn, which is mentioned in the Good Beer Guide. There were four real ales available and they weren’t really what I was looking for, but the half pint that I had was at the appropriate temperature, was well kept and had a reasonable flavour. Ross battled through his drink without falling asleep and Gordon and Ross compared blisters, each saying that the other one had it worse. Katherine and her parents were there, as well as Liam and Richard, all enjoying various drinks before the trip home.
A few of us then had a little walk around Sandown whilst waiting for Richard’s last train. Richard is in Ryde in a grand hotel and he’s coming back in the morning by train ready to join us for his first day of walking. I hope that he doesn’t go slowly, as it’s always sad to leave someone behind.
Gordon also asked what the constitution of this group is, but he should know that the first rule of this group is that you don’t ask for the rules of the group. Really the whole thing is just a dictatorship, but covered over with the facade of democracy, but Gordon will soon learn.
And on that note, that’s it for today. I will go back and write far more drivel about certain churches, pubs and restaurants that we’ve visited today, as I have much more to say. As usual.