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.
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?
There have been whispers that Matt and Cat generally keep to the Island's scofferies, eschewing the more upmarket establishments. In fact, County Press columnist Keith Newbery congratulated them for being "real punters talking about real grub". Is it indecision, poverty or scruffiness that keeps your reviewers out of the nouvelle cuisineries? Probably a pinch of all three plus a soupçon of idleness.
So, to prove the naysayers wrong - hopefully without overly annoying Mr Newbery in the process - Matt and Cat put a pin in the 'posh eateries' section of the Yellow Pages and stabbed the name of Albert Cottage Hotel with their tiny stainless steel bayonet. Did they manage to get through the door without Matt being sent home for a tie?
The heroes swaggered through the huge glass doors and entered the gleaming, modernist palace.
Spectacular lamps - several feet long - hung over the polished bar.
Smartly dressed flunkies shimmered into view and escorted the reviewers to a table with views over the shallow lake, reflecting the twinkle from a multitude of lights. The chairs were comfortable, the carpet florid, a psychadelic shagpile swirling underfoot. The incomers listened to understated Latin sounds; Stan Getz, Astrid Gilberta. Taking their drinks they watched the hessian-covered wall at the rear of the bar slowly revolve to reveal a map of the world etched onto a vast sheet of acrylic with Pacific locations of secret missile launchpads flashing insistently... OK, so that last bit was made up, however, entering the Lakeside Park Hotel is like stepping onto a James Bond film set.
Cat felt quite at home in the 1970s Scandinavian-styled restaurant. Her glitter platforms, snake belt and Suzi Quattro feather cut, for once, did not look incongruous. Matt, dressed as usual in his Roger Moore safari suit, enjoyed an Ian Fleming moment as he imagined the roof rolling back to reveal stolen warheads coursing into the Wootton sky. Would the party finish the evening saying Nobody Does it Better, or would it be Dr No?