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Looking through the Spyglass

April 13, 2014

Having undoubtedly kept most of the hotel guests, and many more in Cowes, awake through the night with a hacking cough, courtesy of a dangerous bout of man flu, I should perhaps not have been shocked by the snide comments, lack of eye contact and other obvious signs of displeasure exhibited by the other guests of the hotel at breakfast. However, when one knows just how ill I have been and how close to death, I would have hope for some sympathy. Instead I got a very satisfying English breakfast under the baleful glare of my fellow residents.

We had stayed the night at the Union Inn at Cowes and after stoking up on the usual fine array of blood vein coating, cholesterol creating, life shortening delicacies, which sets a full English breakfast apart from any concept of healthy eating, including black pudding, we set off to explore the western part of the Isle Of Wight. I have always said that I would never be old to live here, and that certainty was reinforced as we trailed a round a quite pretty but shockingly old-fashioned series of coastal villages. The only people that we saw who were under 40 and were almost as ubiquitous as the old folk, were pikies. I lost count of the number of mobile homes we saw, and although I accept that they represent a way for the great unwashed to save up their benefits and live by the sea, the chances of my finding a client for Currencies Direct seemed as remote as finding a Manchester United fan who believes the new manager is better than Sir Alex Ferguson.

Freshwater was the nadir. A slum of the most desperate order, we swept out along the coast in search of civilisation that was still alive or did not have broken bits of cars. We had earlier walked along the “coastal path” for about two miles to the west of Newport and where the sea remained stubbornly out of sight throughout. It was only when we deviated from the path (the Reverend Jeff will know of what I speak), that we found the coastline and were amazed at the amount of erosion it has suffered. It seems that the coastal path is now up to 2 miles from the coast, presumably as the authorities think that is how far inland one needs to go to be safe.

With the car radio playing “Video Killed The Radio Star” we decided on another over lunch at the excellent Buddle (ouch!) Inn, close to the improving beach as we headed back eastwards, where it was time to think seriously about what arrangements we had in place for last evening, and I was distressed to find that we had none.

inn on the beack

The Spyglass at Ventnor

We then set off towards Ventnor and found a charming place right on the coast in a pretty seaside town of Ventnor. It is called The Spyglass Inn and they had a room free for the night. I took this picture from our terrace. Not Juan Les Pins, but quite acceptable, especially as unlike any other English coastal resort that I have ever come across that is charming, on the beach and where one can eat and drink properly.

The menu also looked good, but I was fooled the garlic prawns in their shells, expecting half a dozen sizzling monsters and instead getting about 50 tiny little irritating horrors. It was over a bottle of Rioja later in the evening that it came to light that The Nice Lady Decorator was worried about the erosion that had effected the island as a result of last winters storms. Her concern was not for the poor residents whose houses were at risk from the sea, but the maps was now inaccurate due to the sea undermining the road to Ventnor, and that she felt short changed because the island is now bit as big as it was…

Chris France

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