Being seaside dwellers, Matt and Cat tend to cling to the edges of the Island - except when heading to the megalopolis that is Newport for their day jobs. However, they can be drawn to Vectis' rural innards when necessary. One such voyage of discovery lead them to Rookley's uber-pub, The Chequers.
This is not the first visit to this sprawling roadside inn for the dynamic duo. Many years ago, along with their fellow desk jockeys, they celebrated Christmas in true office worker style in the pub's accommodating (and brand new at the time) conservatory. The Chequers coped admirably with the challenge of feeding a horde of office-workers on pleasure bent. Memories are a little hazy, but Matt and Cat can just recall how their colleagues prepared for the event: having started the 'lubrication' process with tins of lager at their workstations, ties were cast asunder and collars were daringly opened by the time they arrived en masse at The Chequers. The lunch descended into the sort of chaos that only cube rats can cause, culminating in a tired and emotional senior planning officer tumbling down the kiddies slide with his shirt off and nipples like chapel coatpegs in December's chill wind. Would Matt and Cat's latest visit also result in nudie-planners and discreet inter-staff fumblings?
Christmas comes but once a year, although the same cannot be said for Christmas dinners. Anyone who has a job, a family or friends will probably find themselves pulling a cracker with their colleagues and/or loved ones at more than one seasonal roast-fest. And so it was that Matt and Cat joined their fellow salt-miners for the first of several scheduled Christmas dinners.
After a pleasant walk around the beautiful West Wight, the group arrived at the Red Lion where they were met by Cat, who had the misfortune to be too crippled to manage the morning's gentle meander, the poor thing having twisted her ankle the previous day in an embarrassing tumble in Lidl's car park (oh the shame!).
UPDATE: Joe's, Newport has ceased to be. It is now Mill Bay II.
Known for many years as "Joe Daflo's", the Ryde branch of Joe's was for a long time one of Matt & Cat's all-time favourite eateries on the Island. Another branch offering a similar experience exists in Newport - this review is about that Newport branch.
Matt and Cat had a works Christmas dinner at Joe's, Newport (yes, in their own time, thank you). With the whole of the upper floor hired out for their festivities, a good time was anticipated. Arriving down at the bar, the large party was able to enjoy drinks and chat before ascending the classy staircase to the waiting long table, laid out for a feast. This was a really good way to do it - Joe's is certainly well set up for this kind of event. Better still, the upstairs appears to be non-smoking, which is a good thing as the bar downstairs is still one of the few places on the Island where you can be sure of getting a good lungful of Marlboro whether you've paid for it or not.
NB: Liberty's is now closed.
Liberty's Cafe Bar is a new feature of Union Street, a road undergoing a remarkable revival. With perhaps the greatest concentration of listed buildings on the Island, Union Street has intrigued visitors and locals alike with its mix of the mundane and the fanciful - extraordinary Victorian architecture above sometimes tawdry and decaying shops. But no longer. The boarded-up frontages are gone, the charity shops have fled to the upper High Street, and the Victorian arcades and shops have reawakened from their decades-long slumber behind plywood. Union Street can now boast more new cafés, bars and restaurants than any other place on the Isle of Wight. Liberty's, is, so far, the most remarkable and overt example of this transformation.