Plastic Free OSGH   Leave a comment

Well we’ve been busy bees since the last blog, founding Plastic Free Shanklin, making our OSGH plastic changes, beach cleaning, fund raising, etc.

You may have noticed that at OSGH we have always been mindful of the environment. We have never used plastic bottles in rooms, we have never used plastic single use preserves, we make as much of our own produce as possible and buy locally wherever we can – more recently Mr C’s Brown Sauce from just around the corner.

Personally, we have been recycling for as long as councils have done so. We have always been really lucky to live in counties that are hot on recycling, although we have spent many a Sunday at the bottle recycling! It was a bit like the walk of shame, where everyone compared their stash!

The plastic movement is not our only concern. We (and Plastic Free Shanklin) are about reducing our waste and carbon footprint. OSGH was recently awarded Gold Award by Visit Isle of Wight for Sustainable Transport, which enables us to let our guests borrow a one day bus pass to get around the Island #drivelessseemore or #drivelessdrinkmore OK so that’s not very grown up, but it’s nice for the everyone to be able to see the Island and not just the tarmac in front of your face. You may have also noticed we’ve had solar panels for the last 6 or 7 years.

We have made some changes in the last year to reduce our plastic. We no longer wrap our goats milk soap in plastic, so you might get strange messages on your soap – see below. (If anyone needs a big roll of cellophane you are welcome to it!), we buy our toilet rolls from Who Gives A Crap, which are wrapped and posted in paper and cardboard, we make our own ketchup when the veg man understands my text messages and I get enough tomatoes! You will also notice that whilst we still use the lovely Algotherm toiletries they are now in large bottles (not refillable), instead of single use. You should see the mountain of half used little body lotions we have in the store room! Man am I going to be glowing!

We no longer use napkins for our boiled eggs and porridge (as a non slip), Grandma OSGH sewed some cotton washable squares. We erred away from single use yoghurt pots last year. We are still working on the yoghurt thing – hoping to make our own, if it goes well. As you know we already make our own preserves, we make our own bread (now fully vegan) and speaking of which, we are working hard on more vegan specials this year. We have been very strict about not putting things on the plate that are not homemade or local, so when the Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages go out I hang my head every time, so we are working on a homemade vegan alternative. More on that in another blog coming soon.

We no longer use tea bags for breakfast due to the plastic content, we no longer give cotton buds and as that only the 3 Ps are flushed. You wouldn’t believe the things people think you can flush!

In making all of our food and cooking to order we have very little food waste. Little Miss OSGH is more than happy to eat any of Paul Murphy’s sausages that need to be consumed.

I haven’t yet written that roast tomato recipe book, but there will be recipes coming soon in another form, so watch this space too.

There’s lots in the works for 2019, so keep up to date with us on the Facebook page. Mr OSGH also has something up his sleeve, but it’s not the bar! It seems I might have to take over any homemade sausage making though!

#plasticfreeshanklin #shoutaboutshanklin #ShanklinInandOut #visitshanklin #lyoncourtIOW Day Beach CleanOSGH soap 2018

Posted March 18, 2019 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

A Spoonful of Sophie- Louise Dann   Leave a comment


Every now and then people come into your life and disappear again, as if it was just a dream.

When you own a guest house sometimes it’s a nightmare and they don’t disappear fast enough!  Not this time.

Sophie-Louise Dann. Who? I hear you cry. Yes, I had to Google her too when her assistant phoned to book her in, explaining that she was playing at Shanklin Theatre in A Spoonul of Sherman.

She swept up to our drive way (in her car, as only Sophie-Louise would be able to sweep in a car), stopped half on the road and half on the pavement, to which a passerby asked if she was ok, ‘Are you Sarah?’ (I happened to be coming back from the village) and I knew exactly who she was!

What she should have been driving was a classic convertible and wearing sunglasses and a flowing scarf and she would have been someone straight out of an Agatha Christie book. Fantastic!

Still half on and half off of the drive she explained that she was early because of her journey. She had arrived at the ferry early and as most of us know they generally just wave you on. However, as she told the story she said it was like being in a 70s sitcom. Not realising just how early she was the ferry started to move! It’s much funnier the way she tells it! Now her fellow actors were booked on the next ferry and they were supposed to travel together. You can just see the Only Fools and Horses scenario! I knew this was going to be a fun few days!

You can’t fake charisma, but what Sophie-Louise has is a natural energy that makes everyone feel so positive and happy. How lovely.

The sun shone the whole time they were on the Island, her and her crew. And they had a blast. Sophie-Louise and her fellow actors, there were 5 of them, all spent the days together sightseeing, although being one of the older ones she felt she needed to come back for a Nanna Nap as she calls it! (She’s not old and probably has more energy than all of them put together, but of course she is professional.)

They all made the most of their time here going to the Needles, filling coloured sands and playing silly games and buying pearls at the Pearl Centre

It’s actually really nice to see, as most big stars to the theatre come and go in 24 hours, not seeing our lovely Island. They even had a drink in a different venue each night.

It happened to be the week I was out delivering Theatre brochures, so I popped along to the theatre and collected some posters to drum up some business for them.

I took Little Miss OSGH to see A Spoonful of Sherman on their last night, which was a mistake because if I’d gone the first night I would have gone again. I got 1 free ticket for being a FOST member – { PLUG! } It was late for Little Miss OSGH so I stuffed her with Haribos (Yes bad parent) and there was a lot of nudging. The first nudge was “Mummy, you’re right she really is very good” – the Oliviers thought so twice!

The show was a wonderful cross between a musical, a play and a narration of the Sherman’s lives. And it’s so rare to see piano on the stage in the West End, this has 2! All the music is played by Ben Stock & Mark Read.

Sophie-Louise was kind enough to give me a quote for my blog;

” …totally in love with the Island; a warm welcome, delicious food and wall to wall sunshine made us feel like we were really on holiday.

Thanks to everyone at Shanklin Theatre for making our short run such a fun time. Please support this lovely venue.”

We had some lovely (for me) chats about how she came to have a career on the stage and it wasn’t pushy parents. She is clearly totally in love with her husband, who she has been with for 20 years, which is quite something in his line of work.

We thoroughly enjoyed having Sophie-Louise stay with us and I know it’s not really for us to review our guests, but if you ever see anything starring Sophie-Louise Dann you must go and see it – there were other famous people in this, but hey ho! Her personality rules the stage and if you ever have her booked in to stay with you it will make your year!

Posted May 2, 2018 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

Winter at Old Shanklin   Leave a comment


So many reasons to rent Old Shanklin in December and January or stay with us over the winter for B&B in November and January*.

So Many Reasons to Rent Our House over the Christmas Period

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year, but as with most seaside and visitor areas some places take a break to have a rest & carry out maintenance. So we have put together a collection of things to do and see over the Winter.

The mild climate makes it a fabulous place for winter walking, hire bikes from Route Fifty7 , surfing, paddle boarding, fishing, sea swimming and all manner of things you wouldn’t dream of doing elsewhere in the UK. You’re quite likely to go home with a tan! We love to go kite flying at The Duver beach, St Helens around Christmas (check tides).

Outdoor sports isn’t for everyone, so as well as their fantastic Pantomime, which this year is Dick Whittington (Booking essential), from 23rd December – 3rd January, Shanklin Theatre continue with their comedy circuit guests and an array of National, International and local performances. We are very lucky to have such a good theatre round the corner.

Osborne House are hosting ‘Enchanted Osborne’ Friday 15th – Saturday 23rd December, when Osborne Gardens will be open after dark for an enchanted winter fairytale of light, colour and sound through a garden trail into magical woodland. They are then open at weekends for the main part of the winter.

Carisbrooke Castle is open on Saturday and Sunday from 1st November to 23rd December and January and open every day from 27th December – 1st January

And talking of donkeys – the Donkey Sanctuary is open all year round and it’s donation only.

Quarr Abbey Farm Shop & Café are open up up to Christmas, closing Christmas Eve until New Year’s Eve. Understandably.

Shanklin Seafront’s Pirate’s Cove & Jurassic Bay will be open at weekends through the winter months.

Christmas isn’t just about panto, the Boxing Day Swim at Hope Beach, Shanklin and Ventnor Beach are for the proper dedicated and those who like raising money for charity. Lots of the bars are open at Ventnor on Boxing Day, as they are in Shanklin. The Salix near Hope Beach has a log fire and a license – what more do you need after that Boxing Day swim!

The IOW Steam Railway have Santa’s Specials and Christmas Carverys. And talking of food the Island is known for it’s high concentration of pubs! Winter isn’t winter without a lovely log fire and a glass of wine or a local ale. Try the Buddle Inn at St Lawrence (you could walk down to the lighthouse), the New Inn at Shalfleet. Even The Best Dressed Crab restaurant on Bembridge Harbour has a log fire and are open 7 days aweek except January & February when they are open at weekends.

There is a lovely cosy buzz about the Island in the winter. You can get really mixed in with the locals and feel part of this wonderful community. People on the Island really are genuinely friendly, not just in the summer while you’re tipping them.

If you are self catering we have an amazing butcher, Paul Murphy, in Shanklin and what we believe is the best local produce in the country; goats cheese, milk and kefir from Green Barn Farm, the well known Gallibagger, Blue & Soft cheeses from the Isle of Wight Cheese Co. Tomatoes galore, garlic of course, gin, vodka, wine, ales, game, beef, lamb, free range poultry, organic veggies, many of which can be found at Farmer Jack’s Farm Shop, Arreton and Brownrigg Farm Shop, Godshill (both also good for IOW products) and delicious seafood at Ventnor Haven and Captain Stan’s Bembridge. We are very lucky. Even the Rock Shop (sweet shop) at the end of the road makes special Christmas gifts. If you have forgotten anyone The Chilli Farm has a great barn of local artistts and crafty things – soaps, chocolates, art, as does Arreton Barns and Brownrigg Farm Shop.

If you don’t want to stay in on Christmas Day Heima in Brading, a beautiful, intimate restaurant with fabulous food, will be open (also on Christmas Eve). Pendletons, Morgans and the Waterfront Inn, in Shanklin are open Christmas Day. Many of the pubs will be open for drinks on Christmas Day.

Newport Street Food Market at the Quay is on Fridays and the 22nd December will be festive market 10:30-8pm (none between Christmas and New Year). Plus a Christmas food market in Brading on Sunday 10th December 10-3. They also have an annual Christmas Market at the Garlic Farm on 24th, 25th and 26th November (The Garlic Farm is open all year round).

If you like buying local there are plenty of local Christmas fayres for Crafters and foodie events. You will find lots of own made produce at the Ventnor Botanic Gardens, which is open all year round and has a great bumpy slide!

The great thing about living on our lovely Island is that things just don’t stop. So when we are a little quieter in the winter months there is still a massive music scene. The Village Inn, Shanklin has weekend music all year round. Let’s face it Shanklin looks like Christmas all year round, we even have a Christmas shop!

Of course the best thing about Shanklin is our beautiful beach and they really are all year round. We even have free parking on the seafront over the winter! Bonus! Kids love it. Wrap them up and take a ball or a kite and you can have endless free fun.

Stretch the legs with a walk to Bonchurch and Ventnor from the house. Breakfast at Cantina is a must or lunch at the Bonchurch Inn – life changing lasange, you can’t come to the Island without it or walk to Sandown on the sea front – bicycle friendly and stop off at The Beach Shack (check Facebook for opening). Another lovely walk over the Downs brings you to Ventnor and the fabulous Taverners Pub, Godshill. A must for foodies. If you fancy breakfast in Shanklin and you’re not B&B’ing with us The Waterfront (they have blankets for outside) does a good Full English and great music at weekends.

Great walking can also be done out West. The Needles Park is not open in the Winter, but you can walk up Heddon Down or over Tennyson Down and get a great view of the Needles. While you’re over that way pop into some great pubs –The Highdown Inn, Red Lion, Freshwater (great for game) or the Waterfront Inn at Totland, who also have an extensive menu (not to be confused with the Shanklin one). Another enviable log fire can be huddled round at The George Hotel in Yarmouth.

Go East while you’re kite flying on the Duver and visit The Seaview Hotel and the Old Fort Pub. Walk round to the Boathouse and you can go all the way to ride and it’s an easy flat walk for kids and if the tide is out there is great shell collecting to be done.

We love our Island all year round and really miss out if we’re not here for Christmas, but we hope if you rent Old Shanklin you will enjoy yourselves for us!

* The guest house is open for 2017/2018 until 26th November, then available for holiday let 8th December – 30th December and again from 4th January – 31st January. Our B&B diary is also open in January, we will honour whichever booking comes in first. No one will be cancelled.

**Openings are to the best of our knowledge in 2017. Please check individual websites and tide times.

We apologise if we have missed any attractions out. Let us know and we will add you.

Posted October 10, 2017 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

About Your Hosts – Whose House Are You Staying In?   Leave a comment


Gareth & Sarah both grew up on the Kent/London borders & met in 1994, took 10 years to get married and another 8 years to have a baby!

We lived in Blackheath for many years and a couple of hamlets in Kent before moving to the Island.

Sarah spent most of her summer holidays on the Island, as a kid, some staying in the flats in between The Holliers Hotel and Village Inn – now a craft centre underneath, which is owned by our lovely neighbour behind us, Shirley, who is still there.

Sarah brought Gareth to the Island for their first holiday, so it was never a secret that she wanted to live here!

After travelling around the world for a year and nearly moving to Nova Scotia, once it was possible to make the move we leapt at it probably without thinking too much about the what ifs. We just dived straight in and moved here in June 2011.

Gareth started working life technically as a greengrocer, then did an apprenticeship in Lithographics (you’d have to ask him what that is) then spent many happy years as a graphic retoucher, involving many hours in bars and restaurants in Soho and Chelsea!

Sarah went to Westminster Technical College to train as a chef (a year below Jamie Oliver – we had the same form teacher/chef) then decided that was far too much like hard work and studied for 2 years in hotel management, going on to work in 4 & 5* hotels in London, finishing as a Conference and Banqueting Manager and Duty Manager at 21 years old. But instead of working all her young years at weekends and evenings she decided to try estate agency management until moving to the Island.

It was on a grassy knoll in Ireland that the decision was made to open a B&B and after discussions on Ireland and Wales the obvious choice (to Sarah) was the Island.

We love living here and whilst it can be hard work it is very enjoyable. Our daughter Beth was born into it, so she takes it in her stride and does like to help out (at the moment).

On our travels round the globe and some lovely holidays we’ve been lucky enough to have we have stayed in some interesting places – plantations, trains, tents in Africa, hostels all over, motels, hotels, some really very nice indeed, some not so! We used the experience to conjure up what we think people need on holiday and hopefully going that extra mile more for what you’d expect in basically a B&B.


Posted September 29, 2017 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

A Week In The Life…   Leave a comment


A week in June


It’s often thought that running a guest house/B&B is a retirement job or something you can do while the husband goes to work, as a hobby (because whenever anyone asks if we have another job they always turn to Mr OSGH!)

Last summer, 2015, a very lovely, well meaning guest said to me at breakfast “Well I suppose once you’ve done breakfast and cleaned rooms the day is yours?”

And I can see how this appears with Mr OSGH wandering around in his shorts and flip flops (and shirt of course) and his sun glasses on his head (the sunglasses are to prevent snow blindness – or sheet blindness – when he’s hanging out the washing).

So because of this comment I decided to write a diary for a week. Two things – firstly, once I had written it – which turned out to be a real pain the in rear – I had no desire to type the damn thing and secondly, it sort of sounded like ‘so what does Mr OSGH do?’, but it’s really from my point of view, I didn’t have time to jot down what Mr OSGH was doing as well, but be assured we work as hard as each other. And it’s also 7 days a week, no weekends off and this was just June.

It’s starts on a rainy Tuesday June morning in 2015:

Up at 7am to prepare the breakfast room and get Little Miss OSGH ready for the day. It’s a rainy, windy, unseasonal day, which keeps the guests in bed and who can blame them? So while we wait for them to venture down to breakfast I marinate our dinner!

Once breakfast is over I clean and relay the breakfast room and said Au Revoir to our departing guests.

Once they have gone there are 2 rooms to clean. I do bathrooms and Mr OSGH does bedrooms. We fell into this routine when I was pregnant and couldn’t move the beds and it’s stuck. Then there are the other rooms to replenish and refresh.

This takes us up to lunch time and then we get a visit from Small Talk café owners with vouchers for guests. Mr OSGH is off to Newport because he forgot to leave the laundry out. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what day it is, as they all gel into one. He also has to buy a new hairdryer, as one has gone missing. I don’t think it was stolen, more likely Mr guest packed it thinking it was theirs. That’s me being sexist! Just one of the things that crop up that we cannot plan for.

I book a ferry for a guest and make chocolate cookies. When Mr & Little Miss return from Newport he goes to a spin class and I take Little Miss for a walk after she falls over in the garden and bangs her head on the corner of the house. It’s a common occurrence falling over.

Apart from that it’s a calm and non taxing end to the day. Bring on tomorrow!


Up at 6.50am, get Little Miss ready for nursery and off she goes with her little bag all sun tan lotioned.

Prepping the breakfast room I have to put the compotes together, prepare the fruit plate, put out the juices, milk, prepare the butter, sugar bowls, put all the instruments in the right place, chopping boards, roast the tomatoes and change the boards for specials and today’s event which is ‘Best of the West End’ at Shanklin Theatre.

Breakfast is quite spread out, which can be good because it gives me a chance to chat with guests. When 10 people come in at once I don’t really get a chance. Even so we are done clearing & washing up by 9.45am. Sometimes people sit for ages and we are saying goodbye to guests and going back into the kitchen to finish off.

I leave relaying the breakfast room until this afternoon, while I am cooking the Irish Boxty, otherwise I stand around looking at them and flipping them for 45mins! I don’t do standing around.

I bake the bread for the day, then drive over to Sandown to the cash and carry. It’s not a job we do often because we only really buy loo roll, milk jiggers and tea bags and boring things from there. Although, I did buy a sack of Belgian chocolate drops for cookies. Although I don’t have a sweet tooth the smell when you open the bag is divine.

Then off to the post office to collect mail – 2 things and both for Little Miss, nothing for me! Then I go to the gym for an hour and a half – yes, I know, me time. Naughty, naughty. But it’s good for the mind and body and it really gives me time to think and lose weight for an up coming wedding. But you wouldn’t believe the things I come up with at the gym! Not all good ideas! Today’s music was Dolly Parton (I know and it turns out that the album I have is all love songs. I thought they were all a bit slow!), so I pump it up to Powderfinger and Staind. I am usually more partial to a bit of Brad Paisley or Katy Perry or Sixx AM.

I pick Little Miss up on the way back and have a quick lunch of bagels and salmon – it needs to be used up. We don’t like waste in our house.

Luckily the chocolate drops haven’t melted in the car (yes, the weather is better today) and we get it all unloaded. Mr OSGH’s family are visiting this afternoon, so I have a quick shower and spruce. (This is when our shower room gets a good cleaning, when people visit)

While I was gone Mr OSGH has been busy cleaning, replenishing rooms and has taken a last minute booking, although there is a book on the deck chair outside. That book loves to sun bathe.

A bath/shower seal has arrived for the Captain’s Room just in time, so Mr OSGH has to cut it down to size so I can fit it. Looks much better.

The bread is ready, so that comes out to cool. Visitors arrive and we have a quick chat before the phone goes. Do I want to pay to advertise on an ‘independent’ review website? It’s not very independent anymore. No thanks.

At about 3pm I start making the Irish Boxty. It does take time, about an hour and a half, but it’s so nice and popular. I can flip it and do other things at the same time, like washing up, relaying the breakfast room, emptying the dishwasher.

I’m also trying to get some information about a property that some former regulars are hoping to buy near us. The problem with living in such a beautiful place is that your regular guests move here and you lose your guests (but sometimes gain friends).

It’s a very hot, sunny day and I’m cooking! The Boxty always seems better at the beginning of the year, when I’m not yet fed up with it or too hot to make it!

Quick call to Farmer Jacks to order our jam. We have a couple of suppliers, but Farmer Jacks make theirs with cherries and apricots from their own orchard and it’s excellent.* I’m not a big jam eater, actually I never eat it, but the apricot jam reminds me of the apricot Danish I used to steal at work in the Conference department.

Our visitors have taken Little Miss out for a walk and at 5pm I realize I needed brown bread, as well as white. So in it goes.

We are off to the Chine Inn for dinner, which was nice and our visitors are off to get their ferry home by 7pm and Little Miss needs to get to bed. Mr OSGH watches Penny Dreadfull and I have a read before lights out. As I’m turning off the computer a late booking comes in, but I don’t mind that.


Up at 6.50am – same routine – Little Miss ready & off to nursery for the morning and I get the breakfast room ready. Then I check the diary for the week ahead for any dietary requirements and make a plan for numbers and breakfast specials. We offer 2 specials now, as well as the main menu, so juggling them is slightly more taxing. You don’t want 2 similar ones on at the same time or day after day and we have a 7 night booking coming up, so we don’t like to have the same main special on while people are here. The 2nd special may change every couple of days. We also like to make sure that anyone with a dietary requirement has a choice. Although it’s quite common that vegetarians don’t think of themselves as having a dietary requirement or their other half has booked and has not answered the question that they are vegetarian. But we’re adaptable and so is our menu.

Thursday is the day I phone through the order for the greengrocers. We currently use one in Shanklin, but they will be closing soon, so we are on the look out for someone new. We don’t order as much as a larger establishment would, so we like to keep our suppliers very local. We will probably use the greengrocers in Ventnor instead of a big catering company. We like to have a relationship with our suppliers. We were over the moon when Paul Murphy opened his butchers in Shanklin and are now good friends with him and his wife. We do use a catering company for our croissants, which are amazingly naughty and that reminds me we’re getting low.

I also email arrivals for next week if we don’t have their arrival times. It may sound anal, but we just like to know if it’s closer to 4pm or 9pm, because we try to both be here for arrivals.

I try to have a quick breakfast before serving breakfast otherwise I can’t concentrate, but the first thing I do in the morning before setting up is have my 2 Nespressos! It gives me energy and I don’t feel so hungry if I don’t have time for food. And that’s another thing. I’m still on the look out for some tiny espresso spoons for our salt and pepper, but not easily found.

I change the weather board and today’s event is ‘The Last Samurai’ exhibition at Brading Roman Villa. I really want to go myself, having travelled through Japan, one of my favourite countries for food, people, landscape, culture, you name it, it’s wonderful and also having just read Shogun. I just need to find the time.

Every day I have a list of things I need to do, but it’s one of those lists that just gets added to as soon as I do something, especially in the summer, but it generally all gets ticked off. I did try using a laptop for the lists to save paper, but no, no that didn’t work for me. I do use recycled paper from the office though. Old menus or junk mail.

This afternoon is accounts. It’s the end of the month and I try to keep them up to date. 10 minutes here and there through the month really helps. Doing it all in one go at the end of the month is boring. Our yearly accounts are usually ready by 10th April and I am always pleased to hand over the box files to our accountant and get it out of my office. It always feels like a job done, but it’s an endless one. Last year they were ready before breakfast on 6th April! Such a swat!

It’s 8.40 and no one is down for breakfast yet, so I slice some bread. Mr OSGH often does the ironing before breakfast in the summer, otherwise he gets too hot.

Had a message this morning to say that our marmalade is being made today. I suspect that our marmalade maker won’t be doing this forever. The previous lady we used in Calbourne (which was a mission to get to) kept threatening not to do it, so we moved it closer to home and now I think I’ll end up doing it myself. As I said I’m not a jam, or marmalade eater, so that will be interesting. Although I’m not a bad baker and I don’t really eat cakes. I have Mr OSGH as a tester though.

While guests finish up in the breakfast room I put some wholemeal bread in to bake. It’s the first year we’ve been making our own bread and despite some inconsistencies we’ve had good feedback. Yes, we do use a bread maker, but the temperature in the kitchen affects the results. When I read that I thought they were talking about if you did it in Australia! But no, it sinks if the kitchen is too hot! Not a lot I can do about that. This was another learning curve. We used to buy it from the local baker and I got fed up with having to phone the bakers and collecting it sometimes daily. And sometimes they would forget. After spending £2.55 a loaf and buying so much of it I emailed them to see if could get a discount. The first year I asked they said they’d need to know how much we bought. Four years later I emailed again (4 times) and told them and they ignored me.

Note to self – have to book dentist appointment that was supposed to happen about 3 months ago, but when I got there the builders had gone through the electrics, so I still haven’t got round to it. One of those difficult things to book, if you don’t have a dedicated day off.

It’s 10.30 and the room I need to clean is still occupied. Mr OSGH has gone to the gym and I have a Skype date at 11am with my friend in Dubai. People often ask us if we feel cut off living on the Island – try living in Dubai with a new baby and no family. At least our family can jump on a boat and we’ve made friends and a baby sitter.

One room cleaned and Skype conversation had. Always nice to see their friendly faces. Courgette pasta for lunch. Little Miss also fed and off to the beach with Mr. It’s 1.30pm and I’m a bit behind. Only just serviced rooms and I still need to mop a floor. Dishwasher from breakfast only just on!

I phone the greengrocers for tomorrow’s delivery. Then I’m off to the bank to get cash for jam, a quick trip to the local supermarket, a few bits for breakfast, but mainly for ourselves – yes, we have to shop for ourselves as well! Then off round the long diversion to Farmer Jacks, as the road is being relaid. I collect the jams and pick up a sourdough for salmon – another thing to tweak when I have time to try something else in the bread maker for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs – I also get some rhubarb (usually I get it from someone’s drive round the corner, but he’s all sold out for now), a selection of IOW tomatoes for Little Miss, IOW garlic, some of the butcher’s excellent Spanish Sausages and some IOW potatoes for dinner.

I’m home just before 4pm for arrivals. I happily tick a few things off the to do list and unpack the shopping and have a few minutes in the garden with Little Miss who is back from the beach. While she has her bath I make her dinner.

Just remembered there is bread in the bread maker and it’s all ready for cooling. It’s about this time of the day I remember I have forgotten to drink any water, so I down a glass before I shrivel up.

5.30pm and one of our arrivals is in and it’s time to make compote for breakfast. It’s days like this I think I’ve given myself too much to do, but I’m trying to get ahead of myself before the IOW festival when Mr OSGH is galavanting off to Download Festival leaving me (and my long suffering sister to help).

7.20pm and the dinner is eventually cooking. I’m having salmon and HE is having fennel sausages from a London Italian deli (still watching the wedding weight). We’re also having broad beans with tomatoes and anchovies, IOW spuds and cavallo nero.

I write the specials and events boards for tomorrow and sit down to a film and a glass or two of wine.


Up early and I have time to clean a shower before preparing breakfast. Everyone comes into breakfast at 8.30am together and all have variations of Full English, which leaves me twiddling my thumbs a little. The toast needs attention though, as one of the toasters is only toasting on one side and the other one doesn’t pop up anymore and always burns. Time for new toasters.

Two rooms cleaned this morning and off to the gym for an hour. Trying to think of a good excuse not to go. Lacking energy and enthusiasm today.

2.15pm Just finished sandwich. Been to the gym, where I worked surprisingly hard considering I started with a headache.

Just answered a nice new review, but they said you have to ‘rise early’ for breakfast. We tried several different times when we first opened and often have people waiting in the lounge before 8.30am for me to open the doors. People like to get out and about, especially when it’s sunny and with 5 rooms we can’t make it any longer or later, as we’d never have time to do everything.

The oven is on for cookies and while they bake I’ll relay the breakfast room and empty the dishwasher. Mr OSGH is off to the butchers to collect the sausages and bacon and a nice steak for dinner. The fruit and veg delivery was on the doorstep, so that needs putting away.

Cookies done. I have a wonderful recipe from an Aussie chef that I’ve been making for years (for Mr OSGH). They remind me of a hostel we stayed at in Tasmania 12 years ago. The lady would make biscuits every day. They asked us to look after their place because they had to go away for a few days. We declined because we had a flight booked to see friends in Sydney again before we headed to NZ and they had a mad, crazy dog and I’m not mad crazy about crazy dogs!

I could do with another cooling rack, I muse, the cookies and bread only just fit.

This time of the day the house feels like an organized mess. Just over an hour until arrivals, I need a shower, there’s washing up to be done from lunch and baking, the kitchen needs cleaning AGAIN. Shower first – then lovely laundry lady drops off the weeks’ sheets and duvet covers.

Arrivals are a little early and my hair is still wet. Not quite the look I was aiming for. There is never a right time to shower in our house. The phone goes, the door bell goes. We get lots of Jehovah witnesses at the door. I can’t have a shower before breakfast because I then have to dry my hair and tie it back, then I go to the gym during the day and have to shower again after. A woman’s nightmare I tell you!

I hoover the breakfast room and finish the washing up I started 2 hours ago. More arrivals, tea and cookies in the lounge.

After cooking Little Miss’ dinner and she decides she doesn’t like the chilli I made, so I turn it into enchiladas and voila! down the hatch.

I then have to pay some bills over the phone and while Little Miss consumes the whole dairy section in the fridge I start our dinner, season the steak, make the sweet potato chips and wash the IOW asparagus, which can be quite sandy.

Hoping that’s me done for the day and there’s another pile of washing up and then we clear the tea and cookies from the lounge – more washing up. Now can I sit down? No, I weigh, chop and freeze some of the rhubarb. 1 less job for tomorrow.


I start with 3 things on my to do list today. I start by slicing and freezing the sourdough, which is a really tiring job, it’s quite a stiff loaf. Other 2 jobs – clean a room and make shortbread. We’ll see how the list goes. Oh I have to collect the marmalade. Add to list.

Then Facebook sends me a friend request from the lady at the new antique shop in the Old Village. Which reminds me I need to go and look at their free standing, full length mirror. One of the suggestions we’ve had from Visit England and guests is full length mirrors in the rooms, which is easier said than done. Getting the right thing and finding where to put it, where it doesn’t take too much space*.

A booking came through late last night for tomorrow, giving us 3 arrivals on a Sunday, which is unheard of.

A manic breakfast. Full house and everyone wanting more tea, coffee, toast etc, departing guests wanting to pay during service, so obviously toast gets burnt!

After all the washing up the dishwasher is on and I sit down in the office to sort out the late booking from last night and have some breakfast. Then I relay the breakfast room, get the butter out to soften for the shortbread, then into St Helens room to clean for new arrivals, who are staying for a week. I can’t complete the breakfast room because I don’t have enough crockery, when it’s in the dishwasher. Although we have changed our breakfast crockery, so I’m not sharing with the rooms’ cups and saucers. And no, we don’t have mugs in the rooms – saucers were made for a reason.

Rooms replenished and refreshed.

Little Miss and I have a walk around the village handing out OSGH postcards. Everyone is really lovely, apart from one misery who takes no pride in his shop and has no smile. We pop into Pencil Cottage to see Lisa and Derek who also own the Christmas shop. They have built a school in Gambia and are always trying to raise money for it. One of their staff is doing a sky dive on the Island (first time the Island has done it). Obviously I walk out without saying I’ll sponsor them. Oops. I’ll sort it out later. We pop into ‘Talk of the Chine’ to look at the mirrors, but they are not quite right. I introduce myself and caress a bench I have my eye on. My main objective is to get rid of some marketing postcards that Mr OSGH had printed by mistake – they’re out of date, but still advertising. Once they are gone we can order the correct ones.

Back home and while Little Miss eats her lunch I make shortbread. My lunch is the ends of the sourdough loaf and some cheese. It’s not fulfilling, but it’s free! The birds already get the heels of the bread, but I don’t think even the seagulls could swallow the sourdough.

It’s not a beach day as high tide is 3pm, so we go for a walk. Mr OSGH likes to tell our friends that we’re done for the day by 12.00! (See yesterday – I don’t think so). But we do try to get out of the house occasionally. Short bread out of the oven and we go for that walk, which turns into a march to the Waterfront Inn! Lovely sunny day, glass of vino. Little Miss likes to play with their dog. Apparently they are ‘best friends together!’

Back for arrivals – can’t sit down for too long – coffee and shortbread. Check the guests are ok then nip out to the shop for OJ and salmon. Forgot my list or lost it in transit, so I know I’ve forgotten something. Oh well, I’ll be back again tomorrow probably.

Suddenly get 3 bookings in, 1 when we’re at a wedding, which has been booked out for ages, so Mr OSGH phones the relevant agent and they seem to have a problem with their system. We don’t use one engine for all the agents, we do it individually to 1. save money and 2. give ourselves more control, but this particular agent’s system is quite unreliable and they are expensive, so we don’t give them much availability. Most bookings come direct, which is better for everyone.

Another booking is for 2 nights in July and I realise I haven’t changed the minimum nights to 3 instead of 2, so that’s the last 2 night booking we’ll take for July and August, unless we have a gap. Still learning and tweaking.

After that, dinner and a peaceful night.


Croissants to bake this morning. Oh, the smell! Mmmmmmmmm.

Busy breakfast and cleaning morning ahead, so I decide no gym. Little Miss has increased nursery days next week, so there will be more time to go in the week.

I roast a chicken for lunches, while the oven is heated up. I hate shop bought cooked chicken.

Wow – a busy morning. Thankfully Little Miss OSGH was as good as gold and we managed to clean 4 rooms, then I baked some bread and relaid the breakfast room, while I ate lunch, then wandered down to the Waterfront again for a glass of vino before arrivals. Hard work deserves a little rest every now and again.

The one room we had no arrival time for came whilst I was in the shower at 6.15pm. We like to both greet arrivals, but I need to wash too! Then I cook dinner of roast pork with pine nut, leek and feta bulgar, garlicky cavallo nero and spinach, oh and some harissa corn on the cob – I love summer food.


8 in for breakfast this morning. It’s so much easier than 10. It’s like a Richter scale. It’s not 2 times easier, but 20 times easier! It all fits in the dishwasher, so there’s less washing up. Much better than my Monday mornings in my old life though! And lots of early birds at the moment, so we’re finished by 9.40am. Our guests staying for a week are early risers, which means hopefully next Saturday, when I’m on my own they will be in before the festival goers. It will spread it out a bit.

Trying to decide on specials for the festival weekend. Things without eggs, as they need the most attention. Thinking waffles as one special.

No one leaving this morning and the room is ready for today’s arrivals so we both go to the gym.

Back home we both replenish and refresh the rooms. This has to be my least favourite job, because I always forget things and am back and forth, and up and down the stairs.

I take a deposit for a booking, then have a quick lunch and go and pick up Little Miss from nursery and onto Tesco in Ryde. I try not to go to the supermarket every week, which was fine for 2 of us, but more difficult with 3. We have to fit everything in our fridges and freezers for 13 people! And Little Miss is a keen shopper, so it’s something to do! On the way back she falls asleep and continues to sleep on me for an hour back home. She’s had a cough at night, so hasn’t been sleeping well. Easier than it was a year or two years ago though.

Mr OSGH welcomes our new guests and give them tea & shortbread. Once I am freed I go and say hello. Other guests grab Mr OSGH and ask for early breakfast tomorrow. It’s actually nice to do that when we’re full, it just means getting up earlier. Little Miss is singing in her cot before I’m up anyway.

I prepare some invoices that are due to go over the festival weekend, so I can just press send and then do a bit of paperwork in the office. My in tray generally looks like an explosion of paper most of the year. I go through it and make a plan for the week’s arrivals and breakfasts.

Healthy stir fry tonight for dinner, but once Little Miss is in bed I go back to the kitchen and realize I have forgotten to steam the rice, so instead we have Mr OSGH’s excellent beef shin ragu, which was in the freezer.

After dinner I take a phone call for a 7 night booking at the end of the month. Mr OSGH is getting excited, as he’s counting the bookings we need to beat last year. We don’t have a lot of space left so it will be a race to the finish of infilling nights.

With the lovely long summer days Mr OSGH is just getting the washing in before bed.


I’ll be glad to finish this diary! It’s taking up quite a bit of time.

Mr OSGH has a flap because he’s forgotten that he had to park the car somewhere in Shanklin, because we are full. Little Miss gets upset because she thinks he’s gone to nursery without her!

Early breakfast, then I put some bread on to bake while the guests are eating and think about my day ahead. I still haven’t collected that flaming marmalade.

Baked beans are very popular for the other guests this morning – Heinz of course – specials sold quite well too. One of our guests comments that she doesn’t know where we find the time to do everything! Maybe I needn’t have written this diary after all!

We replenish rooms and change linen and towels. We make this optional as part of our AONB commitment for sustainable tourism. Then I clean Godshill room ready for Thursday’s arrivals (or it could be today, you never know). Godshill is my easiest bathroom, although it needs to be refitted. I’ve just discovered after 4 years that there is a leak getting to the hall ceiling when I clean. Mr OSGH has sealed it for now, but it’s the next bathroom to be done. It will be a big job though because it has a macerator and needs to be redirected to the mains. Apart from being noisy the macerator gets blocked, despite putting signs up, people still put ‘things’ down it and we have to unblock it. It’s a bonding experience to say the least.

Apparently I hadn’t started the bread, so I try again! After cleaning I walk into Shanklin town to Small Talk to collect our marmalade. They were a café, but have turned it into a tapas bar, so hopefully it will be more successful, however a jealous neighbor has reported them to the council for selling alcohol, even though they have a licence to do just that. Not very community minded, but all is ok, but the council have to be seen to investigate.

Then I pay Mr OSGH’s NI (bit late), pay the greengrocer and give her our weekly order and then go to the butchers and give him an order. It’s his birthday and I forgot! He’s such a lovely man and we have a similar sense of humour. Not sure what that says about me – having a butcher’s sense of humour!

Doing the rounds in Shankiln always takes longer than necessary, but I do enjoy the chatter, so once home I have lunch and am still eating it as I go out the door to collect Little Miss.

I bake another loaf of bread and go out for a play date. We walk back, a little late for Little Miss’ dinner and she falls asleep in her pram, so I take the opportunity to re lay the breakfast room. One of our arrivals for the festival weekend coming up has no arrival time, his phone number is a digit short and he’s not replying to my emails, until today when I offer him a free upgrade!

Mr OSGH is in Ryde collecting our postcards from a guy at the hovercraft. He works at the printers, but lives here, so it saves the postage!

Another booking comes in this evening and I remember to cook the rice!

It’s a peaceful end to the day. Mr OSGH is excited about his trip to Download festival at the end of the week and I am looking forward to seeing my sister and working her hard! It should be fine…


Despite our busy lives we wouldn’t change it for the world and I wouldn’t put anyone off doing it. At the time of writing Little Miss was only 2 ½ and we were still in our fourth year of the business, having started from zero and still tweaking and learning, No doubt we will be tweaking and learning until the day we hang up our boots, but every year gets a little easier and the easier it gets the more time we have to come up with new ideas.Our lives are made much easier by the fact we have wonderful guests and no, sorry, so far no dramatic stories. I’ll be sure to let you know if there are!


We close in the winter for about 2 months at the moment. This time flies, as we are painting, mending, having family Christmas time, which you can never get back if you open all year round. We do have a holiday and it’s the only time we can, so we have to make the most of it. That is all our weekends in one holiday!


Since this blog


  • My sister and I survived the festival weekend
  • I have since started making my own jam & marmalade, Small Talk closed.
  • We now use the Ventnor greengrocer, who I send a text to for our order and pay online every week!
  • We are also growing our own tomatoes, strawberries & rhubarb
  • We now make our own brioche for salmon
  • We now have full length mirrors in 3 of our rooms
  • Mr OSGH is curing the bacon, but we still buy our meat from Paul Murphy
  • I can’t wait to read this back in 10 years time and see how things have changed



Posted April 5, 2016 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

2015’ Food Journey around the Island in a Monkey Nut-Shell   Leave a comment

For 10 months of the year it’s a bit tricky for us to get very far and when we do it usually involves food and/or socialising. Apparently we can get away with that. The common thought is that we should be chained to the house, but we have pop our heads out of the laundry/kitchen/office every now and again for our sanity.

This year, as every year, has seen changes in food and drink. Movers and shakers and some money makers. Our top 10 things of 2015 of course involve food and drink! They come in no particular order, just my list that I jotted down before 2016 started and I ran out of time.

  1. ‘Thompsons’ opening. Robert Thompson’s first own restaurant. It surprised us a bit when he chose Newport, not a seaside location, but a beautiful building none the less. And who wants to be predictable? Mr OSGH is pleased he now has a sign up, but you can’t rush these things. Newport is very much on the up and has been for a few years. Robert Thompson is helping to expand it on the other side of town.
  2. The ‘Waterfront Inn’, Shanklin, was taken over in January by father and son Rupert & Billy. After some rather simple changes – not simple on the bank account though, they have transformed the building and the seafront really. It is our ‘local’ now and hard to get Little Miss OSGH past it without a visit to ‘Badger’s House’ (their incredibly cute and patient dog). They have been through a few chefs this year, but seem to be settling down and have started some theme nights. Little Miss OSGH ever the helper assisted Billy with put up the Christmas lights and was the proud ‘turner on’ of the lights. They are really good! We’re looking forward to our NY Eve celebrations there this year.
  3. OMG the Goat’s cheese!! Yes, a goat farm on the Island. Due to regular trips to Yarmouth these days for baby sitting, we discovered Michelle and her husband’s farm and their temporary shop selling the most amazing mousse-like goats’ cheese. The best we’ve had since Normandy. They have been here since 2013, but are constantly expanding their reach and range, now at the Farmers Market as well as fayres and their own shop on the farm. Watch out for their goats’ milk soap at OSGH in 2016. Mrs OSGH has to confess that she ate goat this year – not from their farm, God forbid. Something she thought she would never do – she has a long history with goats on the Island – that’s another blog waiting to happen. We’re now in love with Yarmouth, with it’s new jewellery makers Rust and our lovely, expensive Marlborough Sauvignon we like at The George!
  4. Living Larder – we kept hearing this name all over, mainly from restaurants. In the olden days before we moved to the IOW we had a veg box delivered from an organic farm near where we lived in Kent. What with everything going on and then a baby coming along we never got round to it here. Actually, we did try one this year and it didn’t really work out for us. So this year Living Larder will be getting our order. Our greengrocer in Shanklin closed this year, so we’ve been using 5 a Day in Ventnor and will continue to do that for the guest house. Especially as Mrs OSGH has her jam making equipment (Birthday present, as requested!) and is excited to try it out. Not having a sweet tooth though and with Christmas it’s mainly been red onion marmalade, red onion marmalade with chilli and chorizo jam (which may be introduced with breakfast, we shall see.
  5. Bembridge had it’s first food festival. Mr OSGH was a little disappointed by the size, but it was their first year and there were the usual suspects, which is fine if you go to 1 food festival a year on the Island and great if you’re a tourist – it saves trapsing round all the shops and venues. It did mean that we went to ‘Shed’ for the first time, a Bembridge delight. We still haven’t tried making their mackerel balls, but did enjoy eating them!
  6. Back to Newport and Thomas Square. Olivos were renovating their next door building for quite some time and there were rumours they were opening a B&B. Then they sold it! Then….along came El Patron and thank the Lord! An authentic Mexican on the Island. And FYI Trip Advisor reviewer/nay sayer, you can have soft tacos and the tortilla chips are sooo authentic and moreish. It’s street type food in a basket and so good that Mrs OSGH would probably eat it off the floor if she had to. We’re still big fans of Primrose Café & deli. We never tried the burger bar that is already up for sale on that side of town, but we did try out a few Newport Pubs, particularly liking the Castle for a drinky.
  7. There have been some other fantastic renovations this year. One of the most outstanding is the old Wax Works in Brading. Brading is a very old town, dominated by it’s Roman Villa and wetlands. It used to be rather touristy too, but then the Wax Works closed and it became a bit of a linear town, just for driving through…until 2015! Well, a bit before that they started a museum in the railway station, oh, and they still had the Roman Villa and the bull, but anyway, one of the pubs closed, which was also supposed to be the Post Office…I tell you what they may have got quiet, but I bet there was a lot of gossip about who was doing what and when and how! So after toing and froing and Kyngs café at the wax works, ending up in the old Dark Horse, the pub that closed – are you still with me? – the Wax Works, after planning hoo hars, opened it’s restaurant The Rectory. Phew! And it is stunning. Opening in the summer Mrs OSGH drove past it quite a few times and it was always busy, from day 1. Finally we found time to go there and it is stunning. No more cobwebby wax works or rickety floors. And the food is excellent. Well worth a visit. Brading is on the up! And Mrs OSGH needs a little lie down after that paragraph!

7a…Mrs OSGH final allowed Mr OSGH to go to the Yarbridge Inn. It was a not very cold December lunch time and having been warned by our butcher that we should have booked we went along anyway and we got the last table. It looks a bit like it’s the old railway station – purely by shape, as it’s long and thin. The menus, yes menus, were extensive and if you can’t find something you want to eat here, then don’t go out ever! There is so much to choose from. They even have a daily roast! Mrs OSGH had a chicken, ham and brie pie and you could actually taste the brie. Sorry Mr OSGH I should have let you go sooner! We’ll be back.

  1. One of Mrs OSGH’s highlights of the year was staying at the Seaview Hotel. It was a present for her sister’s milestone birthday, that she doesn’t like to talk about. We had lunch at the Best Dressed Crab – another new and great experience of 2015, then walked to Seaview, (having already dropped off the bags), around the beach, collecting shells (which are still in her hat) and discussing the noise of the hovercraft and why they are not in general use around the world (yes, a very exciting conversation) ending in a little drinky at the Old Fort before checking into our beautiful room at the Seaview Hotel. We had a 3 course dinner from their ‘Focus on Food’ menu, which was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2015. The food was to die for and the cheese board immense! A very happy night spent sans child, con wine and bloody Marys and being served breakfast in the morning.
  2. The Shakers this year have been thinking outside the box. Shanklin welcomed a tapas restaurant, formerly Small Talk Café, now Small Talk tapas bar. It’s really worth a try and very reasonably priced.They have Spanish beer and cidre on tap too. We had a lovely evening there wine tasting with our butcher and his wife, with South African tapas. Another shaker this year was Fogg’s formerly known as Phileas Foggs. It’s taken all year to remember the new name – it’s an age thing. Since Mark & Lyndsey bought the restaurant they have gradually changed things, slowly at first, to ease people in, then a little more dramatically since the rebranding, but it’s always good these days. We just don’t get there often enough. To shake up Christmas we thought we’d try and book a table for Christmas Eve (only a handful of days before Christmas) and of course they were fully booked. The menu looked great though and it appeals to everyone. Shaking in 2016 will be Fine Nammet. Closed by Jenna & Paul, it will be reopening in 2016, so watch this space. El Toro in Ventnor are changing things in 2016 too, after their rather long holiday in the Canaries they are full of new ideas.
  3. Sandown, oh Sandown. A new, exciting restaurant opened – The Bandstand. Mr OSGH has been, but Mrs hasn’t. Everyone says it’s good and it’s a welcome addition to Sandown, it looks nice too, with it’s byfold windows overlooking the sea. IOW council still have an aversion to allowing people to improve Sandown, although one, yes, one planning application was allowed this year on a dilapidated building (with lots of conditions obviously). A new burger joint opened too. The Beach Shack are also changing things for 2016, again watch this space, once Greg and Amanda decide which avenue to take it will be quite a different ‘shack’.


We have a list of new places we want to try and 2016 seems to be longer than ever:


The Bandstand for Mrs OSGH

The Harbour Kitchen

Toninos (on a list from 2013)

Murrays (also on a list for 2013)

Piano Café

The George (no we still haven’t eaten here)

Yarmouth Deli

The Hut


We still also love;

Cantina, Ventnor we now get our gluten free bread from here

Bonchurch Inn

Three Buoys




Seaview Hotel

Primrose Café

The Beach Shack

El Toro

Waterfront Inn

Best Dressed Crab

The Old Fort


The Rectory at the Wax Works

El Patron


Yarbridge Inn




Posted December 22, 2015 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

7 Night Walking Itinerary   Leave a comment

Wight Walking

The IOW is absolutely superb for walking whether it’s the coastal path, country walks, hilly walks or along the old railway lines – there’s something for everyone. Shanklin is a good base with all it’s restaurants within walking distance (see our website for recommendations) and lots of walking trails running through it and excellent bus and train links for those who want to leave the car at home.

This itinerary is not for the faint hearted, although the hardy walkers will probably walk on the rest day as well. We’ve tried to make it accessible for those not wanting to bring the car.

We use our own walks and the ‘Favourite Walk’ books, which are £3.00 each & contain 12 walks in each, which were updated in 2018 (available at OSGH or online).

We have given refreshment stop ideas, but you may want to take a packed lunch, which we can arrange and don’t forget your walking gear – water, hat, waterproof & good comfy boots.

Day of Arrival

A nice relaxing afternoon. You could walk down to the seafront through Shanklin Chine for a bit of a warm up.

Day 2 OSGH – Culver Down – OSGH

This walk starts from the house and can be shortened to Sandown and back.

We follow the esplanade to Sandown and continue past Dinosaur Isle and up over the bay onto the downs to Culver Haven.

On the way back you can take the lane down and keep turning left along the roads, but it’s a bit hazardous, so we recommend coming down the same way and you get a different perspective and wonderful views.

The walk tracks the same path back to the Beach Shack past Sandown pier. Next to this is a slope going up to the coastal path back to Shanklin.

You could do the coastal path there and Esplanade back, but the Esplanade loses the sun in the afternoon and can get a bit chilly.


Refreshments: at the end of the Esplanade at the Beach Shack, Sandown and Culver Haven at the top of the down. There are also various refreshment points along the way there and back.

Day 3 Option 1 Compton Bay Walk 6 – 8 miles

Option 2 Freshwater – Yarmouth no car needed 9 ½ miles (or shorter to the Needles)

Option 1

WWCompton Farm Walk1

This lovely walk from Compton Farm goes through sheep and big fat black cow fields, but they seem friendly enough. Then through Hulverstone and passing the long stone over Brighstone the walk passes coastguard cottages and follows the coastal path back to the farm. It’s quite a climb initially, so quite downward on the way back.


Refreshments at The Sun in Hulverstone. We recommend checking opening times as this is the only stop and although the book says it’s a 6 mile walk it seems more and the coastal path back is further than you think.


Option 2 Freshwater – Needles – Yarmouth


You can take the bus to Freshwater and the coastal path goes up over the bay to the West. It’s a well trodden path and a busy one too. You can either walk to the Needles and stop to take in a pleasure boat ride or fill up your coloured sands or carry on.


The walk goes up over the other side of the ‘pleasure park’ to Hedon Down through Totland Bay and Fort Victoria Park to Yarmouth. An extremely scenic walk.


Refreshments Red Lion Freshwater Village, Needles café, The Blue Crab & Minghella ice cream & Gossips cafe on the pier, both Yarmouth


Day 4 2 options today or you could use option 2 from yesterday

Option 1 Shorwell, Rowborough, Dukem 9 miles

Option 2 Americas Woods 5 ½ miles – shorter and no car needed


Option 1 from Shorwell

(Take a packed lunch.) This is quite a strenuous one, which is why we give you a 2nd option!

Starting from Shorwell this walk goes so far you can see Carisbrooke Castle. It goes up and down and up and down again. There are no refreshment opportunities either, but you’ll certainly feel like you deserve that extra Scotch egg you take with you! It makes my feet ache just thinking about this walk!


Option 2 Shanklin, Borthwood & America Wood

This walk goes from Shanklin and you can walk to the start. Good one for a really hot day, as it’s quite sheltered in the woods. It’s not a long walk, so you can get food in Shanklin before and after if required.


Day 5 Rest Day

A good opportunity to take in one of the sights – Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle, The Needles, Godshill etc


Day 6 Stenbury Trail Newport to Ventnor 10 miles

Don’t be fooled by the beginning of this walk!
Take the bus to Newport where the walk starts the beginning of the walk follows the old railway line. A short diversion off the walk to Godshill is well worth it for this quintessential English Village.

From Godshill the walk is more hilly, going over the downs over Appuldurcombe and finishing at Ventnor Botanic Gardens.

Refreshments Godshill at the Taverners or there is a large selection of tea rooms.

Day 7 OSGH – St Boniface – Ventnor – Steephill Cove – OSGH

Walk St Bon 12.2.12

Using our written walk this goes from the house past St Blasius Church over St Boniface Down (the highest point on the Island), down into Ventnor to the Esplanade, then follows the coastal path to beautiful Steephill Cove. If this is enough for you there is a local bus from Ventnor Botanic Gardens above the Cove or from Ventnor Town Centre.

Alternatively you can follow the coastal path back to Ventnor sea front and keep going past the Island paddling pool, round Horseshoe Bay and continue along the coastal path back to Shanklin.


coastal path to VentnorRefreshments Steephill Cove have a variety of eateries all serving freshly caught crab, lobster and mackerel (when available), Cantina & many good lunch outlets in Ventnor, Bonchurch Inn, Bonchurch (a climb up from Wheelers Bay) and during the summer there are a couple of places on the coastal path from Ventnor to Shanklin.


Day 8 Homeward Bound

Posted July 4, 2014 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

7 night General Itinerary -Getting to Know the Island   Leave a comment


We would highly recommend, as usual, checking the individual websites for opening times, making reservations where you want to plan ahead (many of our favourite restaurants get booked up even in the quieter months) and also using your own head when it comes to where to eat. My choice may not be yours and I take no responsibility for any chefs having a bad day.

These are just suggestions and if you don’t think you’re going to want to do something just don’t do it – it’s your holiday. You wouldn’t stick your head in the oven if I told you to now would you? Don’t miss out on anything just because Mrs OSGH hasn’t mentioned it here.

Due to us having such a diverse and fabulous Island I couldn’t fit in everything, so I apologise if I offend anyone or have missed anyone out. Due to the fact that we only take humans over 12 years old and very rarely have children come to stay I have based it on adult entertainment.

** We recommend checking out Shanklin Theatre for what’s on. This brilliant theatre attracts worldwide acts and also excellent local performances. At the time of going to press ‘Best of the West End’ is a Thursday highlight during the summer months. **

Day of arrival – Godshill & Shanklin


Head to Godshill and if you’re in time for lunch the Taverners is a great introduction to food on the Island – grab a fish finger sandwich or something more substantial, like venison haunch or their fabulous suet pastry pies. If you’ve already filled up there are plenty of places for an afternoon tea or light bite or ice cream in the many tea rooms on offer.

There is surprisingly lots to do in this quintessential old English village; the model village of the Island, which has a lot of the Shanklin area, The Olde Smithy gardens and photography exhibition of old Godshill, Chocolate Island shop, an Island glass blower’s shop, the Cider Barn selling local produce, a fair trade shop and many others.

The walk to the medieval All Saints Church is a must. You’ll see why when you get there. The lane is just by Chocolate Island.

Then check in at OSGH from 4pm.

Once you you’ve unloaded and settled you can have a rest or go for a stroll around the Old Village, which is just around the corner (right at the end of our road) and stock up at the Rock shop on your favourite sweeties. Check out where you want to go for dinner in the Village or in town (left at the end of our road). You can also have a stroll down to the beach (right at the end of the road and immediately left – you’ll soon see the sea). Roughly the beginning of April to end of September you can walk through the Chine and come out just above the Fisherman’s Cottage thatched pub on the beach and just under the Chine Inn.

For dinner we recommmend The Cottage, Pendletons or Pavarotti’s all just round the corner or stroll down to the beach where there are more Inns.

Day 2 – Compton Bay, The Needles, Alum Bay, Colwell Bay, Yarmouth (wet weather day Osborne and/or Carisbrooke)

Rise and shine and up for breakfast. We head out west today. This can be weather dependent. On your drive west if you get to Blackgang and it’s foggy you may want to head to the wet weather destination instead.

Take a drive West towards the Needles. (Or you can catch a bus via Newport). On the way you can stop at the Pearl Factory and even if Pearls aren’t your thing they have fabulous views of the west coast from the café, which sells a wide range of foods; cakes, savoury or sweet cream teas, baguettes, more substantial meals & daily specials.

When you reach Freshwater you can park the car and walk around the coastal path to the Needles. This saves your parking charge to get to the Needles and is a beautiful coastal walk. You can then either walk back to Freshwater or get the bus. Alternatively you can drive there.

Once at Alum Bay/Needles take the chair lift (or walk) down to the beach to see the coloured sands. We recommend the boat trip from the beach to the Needles. You can also walk up to the Old Battery, which is an interesting historical point (even for me!). There is also a café at the top and great views over the Needles. In the main area of the ‘Needles Pleasure Park’ there is a glass blowing studio (it’s pretty warm in there and you can fill up your chosen glass shape with coloured sands. Don’t expect a memorable lunch here. You are better off eating at the Red Lion in Freshwater or at Colwell Bay afterwards, where there are a selection of better eateries, one being The Hut on the beach.

The Needles Pleasure Park is more for kids, but the natural beauty is still there.

You can also walk up the other side to Hedon Warren (on the right as you enter the car park), which is where our resident artist gets some of his inspiration.

Then depending how much time you have you could take a drive to Colwell Bay or into Yarmouth, a beautiful market town where many an Admiral retired to.

freshwater bay

Dinner at The Blue Crab in Yarmouth (or lunch) is highly recommended. Fish for all tastes and budgets. They also do take away. An IOW Minghella ice cream at the pier is highly recommended. Or for dinner head back south to Shanklin or maybe Cantina in Ventnor. At the time of going to press Phileas Foggs have a Seafood Sunday.

Quite a busy day!

Day 3 We go East

Take a drive to the Garlic Farm in Newchurch where you can take a tractor tour (seasonal), taste their products and if you’re there until lunch it’s worth staying for. Or head to Seaview for a stroll around this pretty seaside village. Lunch here can be taken at the Seaview Hotel or the Old Fort, overlooking the busy Solent.


*The Garlic Farm is not easy by bus, but you can cycle there or or if you do not have a car you can take a train to Ryde and walk around the coast (right along the seafront), through Puckpool to Seaview. It’s a lovely walk and well worth doing even if you do have a car. Then you can take the train back to the Steam Railway.

An afternoon at the Steam Railway – suitable not just for overgrown boys (check timetable). If the railway isn’t running you might be able to swap days 2 & 3. They often have events that you may want to head to or avoid. It is all volunteer run and they have won the Queen’s award for volunteers.

Quarr Abbey nr Ryde is well worth a diversion with a farm shop, gallery, Abbey, cafe and piggies to feed.

If you fancy staying out Michaelangelos in Ryde on the bottom corner of Union Street is a fabulous Italian, though their lunch menu is more limited. If you are travelling by public transport check your return times. Trains stop quite early, but the buses run later. Or head back to Shanklin for dinner. There’s plenty to choose from.

Day 4 Ventnor & Steephill Cove Walk

We would recommend a walk to Ventnor and Steephill Cove (walking guides are available written by our fair selves, so there’s no cost).

Going up over the St Boniface Down (the highest point on the Island) and into Ventnor taking in the views then on to Steephill Cove where you will find lobster and other seafood (lots of mackeral) fished that day and served in their restaurants. It’s a lovely cove and a bit of a local’s secret. You can either then walk up to the Botanic Gardens and get the bus back or walk back through Ventnor and back to Shanklin along the coastal path.

To extend the walk you could go out to St Catherine’s lighthouse and the Buddle Inn. You can then catch a bus back if necessary.

If you would like to walk, but want something a little easier you can walk to Sandown along the Esplanade. We would recommend that you head for either the Beach Shack, where the Esplanade ends before the road, Belamy’s in the High Street or The Reef or Ocean Deck further along the seafront for a bite to eat.

If walking is not your thing you could have a wander around Cowes (Coast Bar and Restaurant and the Union Inn recommended). Or maybe a drive to St Helens and something to eat at Baywatch on the Beach, visit Bembridge Windmill and maybe drive up to Culver Haven or a poke around the forts and take in the views.

Dinner at the Bonchurch Inn, Bonchurch. Taxis can be arranged. Or if you fancy going East maybe Lockslane in Bembridge.

Day 5 Osborne House/Mottistone Manor and or/or Brading Roman Villa (Yes you can choose for yourself!)

If you haven’t already done so, take a trip to Osborne House. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for a rainy day. The beach is beautiful and the gardens are well worth taking the time to relax and enjoy.

If you are a garden enthusiast Mottistone Manor is well worth a trip (out West) or Ventnor Botanic Gardens, which isn’t as far. The Plantation Room is a lovely eatery for lunch.

Brading Roman Villa is an interesting and well preserved piece of Island History. Take up the offer of a free guided tour. The guides are very well informed and make it much more interesting.

Dinner in Shanklin on the seafront for a change, maybe The Fisherman’s Cottage. Or if you want a really nice treat, The Royal in Ventnor – we recommend their tasting menu.

Day 6 Compton Bay Walk OR Owl & Monkey Haven

Add a walk from Compton Bay. Starting at Compton Farm (walks available at OSGH) this hilly 6 – 8 mile walk (depending if you believe the walking book or not) has breathtaking views with a stop at the Sun Inn at Hulverstone, where lunch is recommended.

WWCompton Farm Walk4

While you’re out this way have a wander round Brighstone then maybe a quick drink at the Buddle Inn on the way back and a look at St Catherine’s lighthouse.

Or again if walking isn’t your thing take a trip to Owl and Monkey Haven, which is a family run sanctuary. It’s exceptionally well kept and a very popular animal lovers destination. Then maybe the Lavender Farm.

For dinner the walkers may want to limp into Shanklin or venture to the Taverners in Godshill.

Day 7 Carisbrooke Castle, Priory & Newport Farmers Market (Fridays), Quay Arts and IOW Museum

This can be juggled to fit in with the Farmers Market.

Firstly drive in to Newport and park up to take in the farmers’ market right outside the Minster – check opening times for the Minster if you want to look round, as they vary. This old market town is now full of high street brand shops, but have a stroll and you’ll discover some secrets overlooked by the shoppers – the old town hall housing the IOW museum – it’s small but well done. Walk down to Quay Arts on the Medina River down the lanes.

Lunch can be taken at Olivos (Italian influence bistro), French Frank’s Sandwich bar or Quay Arts.

Then onto the beautiful Carisbrooke Castle, which was built in 1100 and famously held Charles I prisoner when he fled here thinking he was amongst friends.

On the grounds are a museum, chapel and display of donkeys bringing the water up from the well (if they are in the mood). This could take up quite a bit of your time.

During August they have jousting displays – check their website for details.

Then pop in to Carisbrooke Priory nearby.

Dinner at your favourite of the week.




Posted July 2, 2014 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

Cat’s Move to the Island   Leave a comment


My name is Hooper and I am a black and white moggie. I moved here with my servants who have a guest house in Shanklin. My role in the house is to sit on the back of the sofa and look pretty to entice people in. Being very beautiful helps.

In the sixteen human years I have been alive I have moved 6 times. I was also fostered for a year when my servants went travelling and had to live with my grandma when we moved out of our last house while we waited to move here.

The Island is very different for me because when I lived in England I used to get bullied a lot, especially after my brother T.C (Tony Cottee) died. There are quite a few cats here, but it’s mostly dogs and I have actually made friends for the first time with a girl who looks very much like me. Of course she’s beautiful too.

I enjoy having my servants at home all the time now and my favourite game is pretending that I haven’t been fed. It works sometimes!

They haven’t taken me to see the sea yet and when we came on the ferry it was very late and very dark. And I heard a story that the people at Tiger World used to exercise the tigers (cousins of mine) on the beach. I don’t think they do it now, but you never know. It would be too risky. When I first saw a seagull I was ever so frightened I had to make myself flat on the ground, so they wouldn’t pick me up and feed me to their babies.

As I said I am very beautiful and I think the sea air has helped make my coat even more shiny and it feels much softer than before. Obviously I still have to spend a lot of the day grooming and getting my beauty sleep, but most of it is natural.

Having lost my brother T.C I have had lots of love and attention – there’s been more to go round. I have a new sister too, but she is human. She’s a funny colour – she has very white skin and red hair. She pulls my fur sometimes, but I don’t mind because it’s nice to have someone else to play with and after all, as well as being beautiful (did I mention that?) I’m also very tough. She does get more milk than me though, which is a bit unfair, as I’m the oldest.

I don’t miss anything about England. I’m happy to be here and happy to see my servants enjoying themselves and this is my favourite home so far.

Posted February 23, 2014 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized

The Fried Potato and Other Ramblings   Leave a comment

Flat chips. WHY? You know, the ones they call ‘steak’ chips? When and where were these ever served with steak? These are my biggest chip fear. You can tell a lot about a place by it’s toilets and chips. It just reminds me of bad restaurants that have wet peas soaking the chips. Urrggghhh. They are just lazy, unimaginative and tasteless.

I accept that chips, like eggs, are a very personal thing. However there really are some no nos in my book.

Of course the new(ish) thing is twice or thrice cooked chips. The Taverners in Godshill do these in an excellent manner! Pretty filling though and never really necessary to order as a side, but so hard to turn down when the opportunity arises. They have a place on pretty much any dish except, probably, fish in my view. I remember when they first ‘came out’ and they would be presented on a plate usually 3 down and 3 crossed on top. The first time I had these was in The Swan in West Malling, now a Michelin Star. If you were really lucky you might get a third layer. It was nice to see the humble potato get a revamp. A very important staple for us Westerners.

Chip shop chips are a tricky one. Obviously only for fish and chips, but they are pretty standard and any diversion from said recipe of slightly wilted, fire hot potatoes is a no no and please a little bit of batter accidently dropped in the bag. Served in paper with salt and vinegar. There can be no alterations, but would you accept them on a plate in a restaurant? Probably not.

It does pain me that restaurants are unable to name potatoes cooked in oil correctly or truthfully. Chips are chips and fries are fries. I enquired recently about the size of a restaurant’s fries to be told by the waiter “well, they’re chips really“. So why not call them chips? I would have been utterly disappointed if I had ordered them without asking. Fries are French fries. Frites. Thin, crispy, salty and naughty. Don’t mess.

On a recent trip to Cheltenham to a very nice brasserie, which was mainly French with a bit of pasta thrown in, the club sandwich came with matchstick chips and the steak came with frites. I had the club and, yes, the matchstick chips were frites (imagine my delight). They were the only chips on the menu and you couldn’t even order a side dish, so my betting is their matchstick chips and fries were exactly the same thing??!!

Americans are good at fries – Freedom Fries, of course. I wonder why they don’t call them Freedom Frites – it has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? In and Out burger, a fast food ‘restaurant’ in L.A cut their own spuds! Unpeeled too. And they’re ‘ansome. There are some good places for good fries on the Island – Phileas Foggs and Barefoot on the Beach. Proper fries.

Funnily enough and I have never questioned her on it, my mum when I was a kid used to have a deep fat fryer, which pretty much, every night cooked chips, until I was probably about 10 years old. Except, these chips were cubed. I don’t know why. Obviously more labour goes into cubes than sticks? Note to self – ask mum about chips. They were very nice though. How I stayed a slim girl I’ll never know.

Now for the Sautée. They need skins. Sliced, halved, I don’t care, but they need skins to capture my heart. Sautée potatoes with duck breast. Or is it duck breast with sautée potatoes? With sautée you then move onto potato hash. That’s one big kettle of lovely fish. My goodness, the hash variations you can make. Some to be seen on our breakfast menus. Black pudding hash, ranch potato hash. I’m working on some more, but Mr OSGH takes quite some convincing for new specials!! But let’s face it sautée potatoes are chips for healthy people who can’t face the guilt.

And the wedge? Come on everyone likes a wedgey! Sour cream dip? I like mine with IOW Garlic Farm garlic mayo. With a pizza? We’re all allowed a guilty pleasure now and again. Now I know it’s a chain pub, but the Crab Inn in Shanklin do excellent wedges – deep fried baking potato, a whole one I would guess. Scrummy. And because they’re probably an American creation it doesn’t matter what you do with them or what you have them with Americans don’t care if you bastardize their food.

The food anomaly within my siblings is my brother. Now my brother is not a lover of food. What does this have to do with chips? Christmas day – 55 year old man (yes, he is substantially older than I) – has chips with his turkey! I conceded to cater for this one year, but I refuse to do it again! Maybe the chip shop will be open next time? He is also an eater of those flat horrible ones. Are we really related?

There are some things that shouldn’t be served with fried potatoes and although it seems popular to some Brits, it’s as frowned upon in Italy as using a spoon for your pasta. Lasagne and chips. Why? Lasagne, chips and peas. Why?

Unfortunately it seems to be a mainstay on Shanklin sea front that everything comes with chips in the majority of establishments. One of our guests recently almost ate in one, but someone queuing in front of them to order asked if they could have peas instead of salad with their lasagne, this was bad enough, but the server then said “I’ll ask, but you’ll probably get the salad as well”‘!! I just have images of plates and plates lined up in the kitchen already prepared with salad on the side. Our guests went back to the village for food. And in fairness to said eating place if someone’s going to order Italian food in an English restaurant they’ve only got themselves to blame!

My new bugbear is kids meals. Yes, we love potatoes, but why do kids meals all come with chips all the time? Come on, use your imagination.

It’s amazing how we take the lowly potato for granted. They are a wonderful thing and should be raised shoulder high. I’m a big fan whether it’s mashed, boiled, fried, baked or roasted. It has to be said though, that there are other alternatives. I have more alternatives in my cupboards than I do potatoes. One day Shanklin will be ready for them… one day.

It should be noted that these are just my opinions and if you take them too seriously you need a certain amount of help.