One of the best things in the whole wide world are my slow, languorous Saturday mornings spent wandering around Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. It’s my home and I love it. It’s a wonderfully quirky town, and a magnet for artists, writers and film makers, and people who are quietly non conformist. Ventnor is quite different from anywhere else on the Isle of Wight and is not the sort of place you just pass through to get somewhere else. It is the destination, and sits tucked tucked away in the Undercliff, the most beautiful part of the island.
Cirrus clouds scud softly over St Boniface Down, as I make idle progress around the antique emporiums, assorted junk and charity shops, and agonise, girlishly, over whether to buy an ironing board or a twinkling cut glass vase for His Majesty’s gorgeous foraged flowers. I’ve never been the most practical girl, and I’ve always hated ironing, thus, the vase wins! – Cost £1 donation to the RSPCA shop. If a shop is closed, there’s usually a friendly note pinned to the door with a helpful mobile number. Ventnor is a laidback kind of town. Feeling hungry, I pop into The Island Deli for an organic baguette filled with Rachel’s tangy goats’ cheese; I also pick up some excellent, flaky Loch Duart salmon. This is the closest I’ve come to a taste of the wild stuff, for a simple, lazy picnic supper up by the golf course, with dancing Painted Ladies for company, and view of the English Channel that always makes my heart flutter.
The café is the hub of the town and the place to find out exactly what is and isn’t happening in our little corner of universe, and it is a far more effective way to communicate and make new friends than email or Blackberry. By the end of my visit I’ve signed up for a course in how to make my own mosaics. Then there is just time to fly down to the Winter Gardens – for the thrill of discovering something old, beautiful and even perhaps remarkable in the great Ventnor Flea Market. I leave with yet another exquisitely pretty beaded bag, I don’t need, but just have to have; plus a miniature Victorian birthday card -complete with amorous cupid, and a tiny enamel button showing a gentleman about to kiss his lady – and all for the princely sum of twelve pounds. Ventnor Address Book:Island Deli, High Street, VentnorVentnor Community Café, open Saturday mornings 10.30am – 1pm, for tea, cakes, coffee and light lunches using local and organic ingredients.Great Ventnor Flea Market 9am – 1pm, Saturdays, check the local paper for details.The Old Studio The place to go for beautifully restored, one off antiques, collectables, paintings and interesting, well-made local craft pieces.The Ventnorian A perfectly formed jewel of a shop for ethical magpies. Perfect for organic teas, dry goods, green toiletries, cleaning products, and exquisite wooden toys for kids. I recommend the delicious dark chocolate with orange oil and cranberries by Plamil.