Ventnor – Isle of Wight, 15th to 17th July

Irene needed a new kitchen and bathroom painting, not all of both, and both small, so only about 8 hours work.  In return we had her home for three days and our train fares paid.

The bay from Irene's veranda

Her house overlooks the bay and western esplanade at Ventnor, from a delightful glazed veranda. 

Female in front and larger male behind

As the sun warmed up the front garden out came two Wall Lizards, a Ventnor speciality, but a little surfing told me they are also found in Poole, Bournemouth and Felixstowe.  Now I know little of the mating of  Wall Lizards, but I think that is what is going on here.

We arrived on the Thursday and went with Irene and Baxter (her young boy) to the nearby Spyglass pub for excellent fish pie and a pint or two of Island brewery Yates’ Holy Joe, a fine pale and hoppy one.  Friday the sun shone and we wlaked west to the botanic gardens and had a crab pastie from a cafe at Steephill Cove.  In the afternoon I felt compelled to visit my favourite pub there, the Volunteer, where a Brains Tour de France celebratory beer was had – Le Peleton.  Would you believe it was pale and hoppy?  Unlike the Wytchwood Cherry Picker and Ringwood Father Time sampled with dinner on Sunday eve at the Spyglass again.

Walking in the sporadic rain on Sunday we encountered what I mistakenly called Accropodes, but where in fact Tetrapods defending the shoreline to the east of Ventnor, near Bonchurch. Accro is French for hook or hooked, and accropodes are more sophisticated reinforced concrete shapes which lock together pretty well – certainly better than the earlier development called tetrapods, because they have 4 feet.  Both were developed by a French marine research institute, but thats probably more than you wanted already.

And all at once I spied a crowd, a host of waving tetrapods (not accropodes, nor yet daffodils)

We went on to a tiny church, where the poet Swinburne was christened – he was born there, unlike Charles Dickens, who spent time writing a couple of chapters of something, when he wasn’t playing rounders on the beach, Tennyson who popped round for tea, and a whole host of 19th century watercolourists, who thought a lot of the place.  It wasn’t just the arty English crowd though – Ivan Turgenev started a new book in Ventnor in the 1860s and Karl Marx spent 2 winters in Ventnor in the 1880s.  TWO WINTERS – what was wrong with that man?

On the way back to Ventnor we went exploring, trying to reach the highest place in town.  Turned out to be South Street, home to the Ventnor Fire Service,

Ventnor Fire Station with Bonchurch Down out to the east

and a cast iron sanitary cover made my Thomas Crapper and Co.

Detail of manhole cover - Thomas Crapper made me

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