Archive for February 2012

The Guest Who Revealed Herself   1 comment

Now I wouldn’t usually talk about our guests. I see our privacy responsibility as somewhat similar to a doctor. So don’t worry she won’t mind!

February 25th 2012 a beautiful sunny day and very warm. We had three lots of guests arriving and then the Shanklin Hotel Ass Dinner Dance to look forward to in the evening. Well, I was, Gareth not no much! Two of the rooms I believed were arriving about 4 -5pm, but the Bonchurch Suite guests I had no time for. They’d booked back in January and I hadn’t been able to ascertain a time. Never mind. Anyway 3 minutes to 3 a car pulled into the drive and the usual knock on the door.

Gareth welcomed our new guests into the hallway and we did the usual signing the registration form and all the pleasantries. Having shown them up to their room I offered them coffee and said I would serve it in the lounge with the chocolate cookies I had just that moment taken out of the oven.

I clearly remember booking her in. The phone rang and I was up a ladder in the office painting. She was ever such a nice lady and we chatted and I sent her restaurant recommendations etc. Little did I know!

So having left them upstairs to get themselves together I went to prepare coffee and plate up my cookies, which were as usual nothing like the previous ones I had made, but looked alright none the same. Having put it all in the lounge I sat in the office tippy tappying on my Blog site! There was a bit of commotion going on upstairs and finally they came back down and I explained where breakfast was. Mrs then asked me if I would go and fetch Gareth, who was busy painting downstairs. “Of course”, I said, I rarely say no to guests. When I went to fetch him he decided he just had to finish painting the threshold he was working on. Now my mind is obviously thinking “what the hell does she need Gareth for?” The last time someone asked me for Gareth it was because they had broken something! Why they thought I couldn’t help I don’t know, maybe they thought I wouldn’t be able to take it! Well, he wasn’t home so I sorted it!

So eventually when Gareth had painted his threshold he trundled up the stairs. On my return she promptly apologised and said that I could also come into the lounge. She slowly revealed from her handbag a small flat wrapped present and gave it to Gareth and asked if it was familiar. On opening the small parcel inside was a sign – Charlestown. Now I had never seen the sign before, but I knew that Charlestown was the birth place of many of Gareth’s Dad’s family on his mum’s side. By this point Gareth was looking like a person!

So then the guest revealed herself. She is Gareth’s Godmother! Huh?! I had to sit down.

There was a story behind how she came to find Gareth here. She told one her cousins she was coming to the Island and it went somehow from there. I’m not really sure my head was whirling a bit. She went to school with Gareth’s Dad and her aunt in Charlestown, Betty, was Gareth’s grandmother’s best friend. I’ve met Betty twice and she is just the loveliest lady.

What a lovely surprise. How nice to meet your God Mother in your late 30s and get on like a house on fire. How lucky to still have a Godmother! There was always much discussion between my sister and I over who had my Uncle as Godfather – I wanted him! But I think actually one of the neighbours was mine! How could my mum not remember? Silly woman.

So ensued the usual Irish conversation about who was who and what their real names were. Gareth’s Dad John is David, Nanny Josie is actually Mary. Bless the Irish and their ways. It can be very confusing whilst trying to find your Nan in hospital and embarrassingly not knowing her name!

Well, what a funny day. Unfortunately due to the dinner dance we were unable to spend the evening with them, but I’m sure and I hope they will be back to see us again.

‘Figgy Piggy’   Leave a comment

Now you have to excuse me because I was drunk, so I can’t remember all the dishes.

After a drink at the Waterfront Inn, on Shanklin Esplanade (a bottle of wine that was not only reasonably priced and very nice, but came up even cheaper on the till) my sis – yes she was still with me – and I took my ‘somehow still drunk from the stag weekend’ husband to El Toro Contento even though he had been the night before with his stags. I know we had everything from the specials board. Mmm Figgy Piggy, prawn & chicken meatballs, Hake goujons (not Captain Birds Eye I can assure you), beef meatballs, something else porky, Boquerones (big fat anchovies) and Aioli. Oh and sherry prawns. I think there’s something missing, but that’s not bad considering.

I can never fault this restaurant. We had lovely wine – although we had to change half way through because it seems the stags drank most of the very slightly more expensive Navarra the night before! How they put up with us I don’t know, but Lorraine, Seraphin and Nell do a wonderful job keeping us as content as bulls.And our purses still in tact. Cost for 3 of us I think about £60

Of course the evening couldn’t end there and we had to wait for our cab. Could we have moved the time? Don’t be ridiculous. No, we manned up! Off we trotted to the Crab and Lobster Tap. Best pub in Ventnor I reckon. Then got our taxi (Door2Door) on time as usual. Thankfully Indy’s closed when we got back to Shanklin and we decided to go home. Returned to a booking and Gareth singing Whitney Houston Songs. (Something I didn’t think he had in him, but she died this morning, so fair enough).

El Toro makes the best tapas on the Island by far

What did we learn?:
Matt and Cat Dining Club card still giving us great discounts. Although I always feel guilty using it at El Toro – 1 It’s very reasonable anyway 2 They are so great
Also remembered I’m an old soak

Posted February 13, 2012 by shanklinrocks in Bars, Bars, Pubs, Shanklin, Spanish & Tapas, Ventnor

A Can Opener of a Weekend and Regurgitated Pig Sick   Leave a comment

After being evicted from my lovely house by my husband due to a friend’s stag weekend – and no we do not usually take stags and hens, so don’t even think about it – I found myself in Ryde for the weekend with my sister.

Friday afternoon was an eye opener, Saturday afternoon was a can opener! After cheese board and Charcuterie  at Michaelangelos – epic goats’ cheese, we spent the afternoon walking up the right hand side of Union Street ‘shopping’ which is rather amusing because my sister doesn’t do shopping! I was pleased to find – very much like Shanklin the shops are all very individual and really pretty cool. We went into the very cold Arcade and I found some second hand bottles. I know how this sounds and on informing Gareth he thought I was off me trolley – he hasn’t seen them yet. They also had a £75 IOW travel companion from the 1800s – if you could put that on my birthday list I would be ever so grateful. We also discovered a leaflet about the Ryde museum, which my sister did cartwheels over because she’s a history buff. She’d never been to Framers before, so she spent hours looking at the photos, old mostly Victorian and Steve Gascoigne’s colourful delights. Old photos aren’t really the decor of our guest house, but decided on one showing the old iron cliff lift, which might go up or might not. It took a whole afternoon to do just one side! Smith & Stephenson, Crocus – they usually run a mile when they see me coming – I always need five of everything! – and a little American style shop. All very groovy.  Then we crossed to Olivos for a coffee and discussed the evening’s food, which is incredibly important to us.

We had already booked a table at the new restaurant/bistro at Bembridge, Lockslane.  We decided to take advantage of the ‘Night Rider’ ticket £5 from 7 pm – 7 am. Before that we had a quickie in the Kasbar, which was very quiet, but I was very pleased to hear some ‘young’ music! Mumford and Sons and Lady Antibellum – OK I do have musical guilty pleasures.

So dinner at Lockslane – what a lovely place – it had a real Antipodean feel. Relaxed, small, friendly and really good food. I had black pudding with apples, croutons and wholegrain mustard and sis had a Vietnamese chicken salad – we hearted both, then she (the cat’s mother) had Pheasant Confit with leek, chestnut, and celeriac mash (I said she’s be farting all night, but she insists she never ever farts!!) I had chicken tagine, which was scrummy. I have a lot of experience with couscous though and know that as soon as you feel your insides expanding it’s time to stop, because it only gets worse! There was – as you will come to discover – no chance of dessert. It’s a very rare occasion for me to have dessert. It spoils the taste of the savoury.

On our home coming (the bus was only 2 minutes late and it was about -3 degrees) we drunkenly asked the bus driver how much it costs to get to Bembridge – £2.50. So the Night Rider was a waste of time, but if we call it Knight Rider it was well worth every penny!

After a freezing cold night in our undisclosed accommodation and a breakfast fit for the establishment we went to the Ryde museum. Bit of a revelation. Did you know the man who invented those old fashioned tin openers that look a bit like a Y was none other that Henry Knight – you know the fella, Henry Knight (obviously the Knight Rider ticket was also named after him). He bought Ryde arcade in 1856 for £3000. Sounds like a lot of money to me. He then sold the patent to Crosse and Blackwell. ‘Huff’ I said, ‘well what do ya know?’ We met some lovely ladies from Ryde District Historical Society who were incredibly helpful in a local Shanklin issue, which I am not at liberty to discuss. But suffice to say I am seriously considering joining the Society as they were so lovely and helpful. It’s only £15 you know. So my sister (the history buff and secretary of Bexley Historical Ass) exchanged pleasantries on what each of their Societies were projecting at the moment. We discussed the frustration of local volunteer groups and the Jubilee celebrations coming to Appley. By this time we were even more freezing cold than we had been at 4am that morning and decided to get warm in Olivo’s for lunch. Just ciabatta and wraps, but very nice and hit the right spot.

We then ventured by car to Quarr Abbey. I hadn’t been for about a year and since then they have built the cafe, shop and all sorts. What busy monks they are. We had a wander into the Abbey and sis just had to go and see the ruins (broken stones). Again with the history buffiness! The cafe a shop were more interesting to me. The monk’s art gallery wasn’t open. Seasonal apparently. But you can get Free guided walks on the first Tuesday of the month and weekly in the summer. Definitely going on the guest info. I might even put it on the ‘Hidden Gems’ on the Island website. I keep trying to put our guest house on, but whoever is approving it (or not) is either not bothering or smarter than I thought!

We had a bit of time left until I could park the car back in Ryde for free, so we had a drive to the Boathouse in Springvale (apparently not Seaview??) with my Matt and Cat Dining Club card and got a discount off our rather pricey glasses of wine, but I don’t mind paying for the atmosphere. We discussed my blog and argued over whose fault it was that we were staying in our chosen accommodation – even after seeing bad Trip Advisor reports – and not at the Boathouse. We decided to blame Gareth for a number of reason – 1. he wasn’t there to defend himself and 2. he said he might need the car. Oh well we had told the lady we were cold and although didn’t give us the blankets we asked for she did give us a dusty De Longhi electric heater, which we had to turn on and go out of the room to burn the dust off first! Pooey! We then drove over to St Helens Duver to watch the sunset, which was very romantic for 2 sisters!

After going round and round the houses (like a Teddy bear) we decided on Michaelangelos, which was very close and I had to consider that my hair was slightly damp and our radiator in our room hadn’t come on! I had forgotten how nice it was. I know we’d had lunch there yesterday, but the evening restaurant is different. When we had discussed the menu (of which we had in the room because I took some to put in Old Shanklin) I thought it was a little pricey for Italian, but I take it back. Even with 2 bottles of wine it was very reasonable indeed. I think we paid £67 (I say think – this was after 2 bottles of wine). It was Saturday night before Valentines and it was packed to the rafters, but they soon found us a wee table. It seems to be the place where the families of Ryde go for birthdays, weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. Also the young men of Ryde take their new girlfriends! Ah, how sweet! Yes I was young once and my boyfriend did take me to grown up restaurants. And usually Italian – and still Italian after 16 years. We had 2 different Bruschetta and then I had the pumpkin Tortelli and ‘she’ had Duck Pappardelle. Both extremely happy with our choices. I had to leave 2 pieces and sis helped me with 2 as well. Again, you guessed it, no dessert.

And again, you guessed it, no heating. We slept in our fleeces! Breakfast was ming – 1 Lincolnshire sausage – as per yesterday, which was the only decent part of it and 1 what can only be described as regurgitated pig sick in a plastic bag. All I could think was Phileas Fogg family were having breakfast at Bluebells and I was sat here paying for this shit and no heating. And no I didn’t tell her I had a guest house! To top off the morning I had eaten so much over the weekend I couldn’t get my walking trousers to stay done up – bloody poppers!

Excellent shopping in Ryde
Excellent Ryde museum and Abbey
Fab food except breakfast

What did we learn?
Can openers were invented in the IOW
Always believe Trip Advisor
Matt & Cat Dining Club Card is a winner

My First Post   Leave a comment

This is my first ever blog. After a weekend in Ryde with my sister (who blogs) we met some inspirational women at Ryde museum I have decided to tell the world I love Shanklin!

Posted February 12, 2012 by shanklinrocks in Uncategorized