This blog post is the first of our seasonal ‘Count down to a Wight Christmas’ blog entries, and today is also a special day on the Isle of Wight advent calander as the V-dub Island All Stars have released their new Charity Christmas Single which is available to buy from iTunes. For more info on the single and the performers tune in tomorrow…
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
by Kimmi Piggott
The Isle of Wight is not just a bucket and spade destination, far from it. Its summer beaches are just as beautiful in the winter months, and visits to amusement parks turn to magical woodland walks. Little towns and villages welcome you into their shops, cafes and pubs with open arms, seasonal produce and warm roaring fires.
When I get time off over the winter months there are many things I like to do alone and with friends.
A Winter Weekend starts with a hearty breakfast…
I start my day off with a scrumptious cooked breakfast in a local café such as The Piano Café, Freshwater Bay for a hot bowl of porridge, or a croissant and delicious barista coffee. Then after breakfast I would have a stroll up to Tennyson Monument (next to the café) to take in the amazing view of the south coast of the Island, it’s a great way to blow away the cobwebs. It is a tradition of mine to walk up to the monument on New Year’s Day with friends and family, it’s a great time to clear your fuzzy morning after head and look to the future.
If I wake up early enough at the weekend I will drive over to The Garlic Farm for their delicious twist on a cooked breakfast (open all year round) and really take my time over it, then I would take a stroll over to see the Highland Cows in the fields next to the farm. The Garlic Farm is about a 30 minute drive away.
Saturdays are made for browsing...
I love visiting Ventnor, in about a 25 minute drive from Tapnell you arrive in a beautiful seaside town with its own microclimate and a very unique personality. From vintage shops and quirky charity shops, to smart galleries and delicious eateries. I could happily spend the day in Ventnor, browsing the shops, drinking coffee or having a glass of wine along the seafront at The Met. If it’s a sunny day, wrap up and head to The Met. You can sit outside and tuck into delicious tapas. Further along the seafront is The Spy Glass Inn which is a great pub for live music and has a lot of character. If you have the kids with you, why not grab a bag of fish and chips from the Ventnor Haven Fishery and take a pew on the beach.
On special occasions I take friends or family to The Royal Hotel in Ventnor for an Afternoon Tea – complete with little sandwiches and delicious homemade pastries, it's especially popular with nans!
Just down the road from the Town is the Ventnor Botanical Garden which is open all year round. Take a stroll through the magical gardens, which changes beautifully with the season and then stop for a pint of Botanical Ale (They grow all their own hops and it’s delicious) or have a pot of flowering tea from the Plantation Room Café.
The towns are alive with the sound of music…
In the evening I would head to see friends in Cowes. If I didn’t feel like cooking I would suggest dinner out. The Coast Bar and Dining Room on Cowes High street has a lovely vibe and delicious food (booking is recommended) There are plenty of pubs with live music and at night Cowes has a great atmosphere (it is also great in the day time for shopping and watching the yachts) If I wanted to stay closer to home I would head to the Piano (if I had not had breakfast there already! Or maybe I would...) as they often have live music at the weekends (piano, guitar, harp etc) and then head home for board games (Articulate is a favorite - other board games available) and a night cap.
Sunday Fun day!
I am soo useless at breakfast in the week (usually involves a cup of tea and a packet of McVities Digestives - Other brands available... but not worth it) that when it gets to the weekend I like to indulge. I was introduced to a simple yet delicious recipe for Baked Eggs for breakfast from my friend Sophie – a great treat for a cold winter morning. Simply layer some spinach, prosciutto, and eggs (I use 2) into small ramequins top with a generous drizzle of double cream, bake for about 10 minutes at 180 degrees then grate some parmesan on the top and bake for another 5 minutes. If you are feeling festive add a little grated nutmeg. Enjoy with a glass of fresh orange juice and some crusty bread. I try to buy all of my ingredients from Orchard Brothers (a cute village shop in Freshwater Bay) which is open Monday – Saturday.
Time for another walk, whatever the weather try to get out there – the world is beautiful!
A great place to take a stroll is along the ‘old railway’ track which runs parallel to the River Yar running between Yarmouth and Freshwater. At one end of the track you have ‘Off the Rail’s’ a lovely café set in the Yarmouth old train station. Here you can hire bikes too and you could ride down the railway track to the Red Lion Pub which is just over the bridge and up the hill when you get to the other end of the track. Don’t forget your old bits of bread to feed the swans and ducks!
The railway track is also a great place to walk your dog, or why not take them to Compton Bay. I love going to Compton Bay whatever the weather. If it is not raining I will stroll along the beach and marvel at the natural beauty around and then head back to the car park which has stunning views and I would tuck into a cup of hot cocoa. If the weather is nice you could go to watch the sunset from the Sun Inn at Hulverstone they have a garden that looks toward the coast with lovely views. Perfect setting for a ‘Sun Downer’
Stuff yourself with a roast and reminisce about the weekend
There are a lot of amazing places to eat on the Isle of Wight. Personally I love going to the New Inn in Shalfleet or to the Red Lion in Freshwater for a roast dinner. Both are cosy olde world pubs with open fires and great chefs!