Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All's Wight With the World

Well. I know I said I was covering my favourite Wightish things of previous years before getting on to new discoveries, but sometimes one thing leads to another. I arranged to meet old friend Debby for a pre-twilight dinner (well, you try driving up Dolcoppice Lane – lane, huh! – in the day, much less the dark), and she introduced me to the latest eatery in Ventnor. Let’s face it, the town can do with a goodie. I can’t eat at the Royal Hotel all the time. And the Bay Grill for lunch is deceased.
The Hillside Bistro is run by the charming gent who has the Hillside Hotel, where we had had a lovely evening a couple of years ago, so it seemed like a good idea. It was a good idea.
Built on the site of an old caff on Ventnor’s main Pier Street, the Bistro is a plain, simple place (nice fabric napkins, but no tablecloth) which serves anything but simple food. I mean that approvingly. I intend to go back, with my camera, but here is what I had for my light supper. Starter: black pudding, pork belly and wild mushrooms. A splendid mixture, and each item, individually, delicious. Main course: guinea fowl: white and dark, moist and soft, with a mixture of baby veg (turnips! yey!). Two very small glasses of a splendid German rosé. I couldn’t have been happier. One of the best meals I’ve ever had in Wight. I am going to have to learn to park, so I can go there more often. Hurrah for something new!
I was enjoying myself so much, I failed to notice it is no longer summer and by 8pm it is getting seriously dark. I leaped into Red Fred, found his headlights, and began retracing my way to the Hermitage. Thank God for headlights! I reached Dolcoppice Lane erratically but safely, and peered my way up. Nearly there! Boing! A car coming the other way! Jeff and Sue, my fellow guests. Well, we breathed in and squeezed past.. and then I realised I had to park BACKWARDS in the dark! The rest is silence. Today dawned glorious. I know, I saw it. At 6am I was awake, gazing out my window at the first red rays of sun periscoping up over the sea and the coast. And then – wham! – in an orgasm of light Sol shook himself clear of the horizon and bathed the world – and me in my bed – in gold. I felt like Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger.
You have to get up on a day like that. You have to go out. So I woke up Red Fred and set out for Newtown. Thankfully, it’s not changed. I said hello to the wonderful Old Town Hall, skipped the church where a multiple funeral was going on, and headed out on to the Salt Marshes to watch the birds and the boats and the beasts go by. Lovely.
Of course, Newtown is right next to Shalfleet, so I had my shandy and British whitebait (not at all the same as Kiwi ones) at the New Inn, and called into the local farm shop for some smoked trout paté. I’m not sure its local, but it looks natural.
Then back over the hill to Brightstone. Now its 6 years I’ve been visiting Brightstone and I’ve never been into the local shop. But now Chale Green is off bounds, where do I get my wine and water and things? Well, Brightstone’s store is full of fresh and fine goodies, and after I’ve tasted the wine, it may well become my ‘local’! Now I’m back on the farm, the fridge is working overtime to get my purchases cold in time for the cocktail hour, I’m lounging in little, and eyeing Cassius Clay, the shower … and maybe the big once-golden bed for half an hour. Mmmmm.

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