Aren't humans lucky? We somehow find this lovely planet awash with things conveniently at a manageable scale: buttons, houses, cutlery. Also, being omnivores, we can eat pretty much anything. It's as if it was all designed for our use! Imagine how dull life would be if you were a koala. Sure, you'd live in a nice country and look pretty cute, but what good are a pair of unfeasibly fluffy ears if you can't manipulate a mirror to admire them? And who'd want a monovorous diet of eucalyptus leaves? Not Matt and Cat, who are out and proud as omnivores.
Not all people embrace their ability to chew and digest most of what Mother Nature provides for them. Some people live in places where their diet is not always a matter of choice; others have objections to eating animals that others simply think of as food with a face. Some choose to restrict their diet on a whim or principle: as a child, Cat was a very fussy eater and it's a surprise that she grew up at all, living as she did on salad cream sandwiches and milk. Matthew was less discerning; tea time at the vicarage was a meal without waste.
As she got older, Cat's diet broadened and she was a vegetarian for many years. However, eventually the lure of tuna was too much even for her steely will. This Damascene conversion suited Cat well. These days she has a penchant for fillet steak and, of course, bacon - the vegetarian's temptress.
Both Matt and Cat are happy to eat hay for pay, so were delighted and flattered to be invited to The 'V' Word at The Royal Hotel, a vegetarian tasting evening where they could mingle with the Island's eminent vegetarians. Could they spend an entire evening in such august company and not mention bacon? The only thing to do was to brush off the posh togs and find out.
Oh Keith, can you ever forgive Matt and Cat? Just a few weeks after this website was celebrated in the Isle of Wight County Press for offering "no high-falutin’ kitchen-speak intended to impress rather than inform", this entry appears, which might cause straight-eatin' columnist Keith Newbery to shake his head in dismay.
Once every couple of years, Matt and Cat rummage down the sides of the sofa for enough spare change to push the boat out for one night. Not just a posh meal out, but also a bed in a hotel afterwards. A luxury which means that a leisurely evening can be passed, safe in the knowledge that nobody needs to drive home; and with luck, a splendid breakfast awaits.
For this year's treat, M & C booked a room at Ventnor's Royal Hotel and soon enough found themselves holding an overnight bag on the threshold of one of the Island's oldest and grandest hotels. Long a watering-hole for the well-heeled, the Royal is also renowned for good food.
Fortunately for the organised Matt and Cat their impression of a Bank Holiday breakfast at the Crown Hotel, Ryde will not dissipate so easily as it can be recalled with some photographic prompts. Those of you who are avid M and C followers will have read on their twitter feed that they sampled this prominent hotel's hospitality way back in August and it is nearly six weeks later that the feckless duo have got around to writing about it. Well, what do you lot expect for nothing!
Matt and Cat have made several false-starts when attempting to review the food at the Springvale Hotel and Restaurant. Being in their manor, the venue often came up on their radar when thinking about places to eat.
However, when poised on the hotel's doorstep, there had always been something about the place which made them unable to commit.
The location is superb - right on the Island's north shore with panoramic views of the Solent; the hotel even publishes a list of ships that you might see when gazing out of its vast windows. The food prices were clearly displayed and they seemed pretty reasonable. So could it be the menu's contents that put Matt and Cat off? Although there was quite an extensive list of bar snacks and meals, the dinner menu has never been inspiring enough to tempt your reviewers across the threshold. So how were M and C encouraged to eat at Springvale's most architecturally ornate restaurant?
Bring to mind, if you will, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Envoy Terry Waite; Our Very Own Frankie Howerd; and Robert Thompson The Hambrough. Institutions that have all acquired titles with words inextricably linked together.
Sometimes food writers seem overly obsessed with who cooks their food. Matt and Cat usually don't feel the need to find out, but sometimes you just can't avoid it. The Hambrough in Ventnor has placed the famous chef's name above the title to create Robert Thompson The Hambrough. This has set the Isle of Wight a-twitter; with breathless tributes to this talented young man coming thick and fast. And it's far from empty hype: the Michelin judges awarded Thompson's restaurant a coveted star.
Matt and Cat could hardly miss out on this opportunity. Neither had eaten Michelin-starred food before, and they decided it was time to do so. So Matt had a shave, Cat put on a skirt and, having scraped a dead fly from the windscreen of the BMW, they made their way to Ventnor's Robert Thompson The Hambrough restaurant.