The Isle of Wight is a wonderful place to live and a Bank Holiday weekend is a great excuse to mess about doing touristy things like visiting a National Trust property and having tea in its sumptuous gardens.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of pretty villages and tea shops in this green and pleasant isle so, paying no heed to the increasing price of petrol, Matt and Cat aimed the MattMobile in a westerly direction.
Motoring past fields of vivid yellow rape, dodging the many eager cyclists circumnavigating the Island by pedal power on the annual randonee and enjoying the sight of spring lambs bouncing in the fields, M and C finally drew to a halt at Mottistone Manor, an astonishing set of stone buildings dating from the Elizabethan age in the presence of the Iron Age Longstone.
Mottistone is a delightful village; the manor and much of the surrounding land was bequeathed to the National Trust by the then owner, Charles Seely who, with his partner James Paget, was the architect of the beautiful Art Deco marvel Eltham Palace which, by coincidence, Matt and Cat recently visited. Mottistone Manor itself is only open for one day a year but the lovely Mediterranean garden is accessible from March to November for the modest entrance fee of £3.70.
Matt and Cat coughed up the charge, gift-aided the tax and walked through the impressive stone entrance arch into the garden. Although their cooked breakfast was only a few hours in the past, they headed straight for the tea shop to fortify themselves before a pleasant meander around the park. Hidden discretely behind a yew hedge which was popping with robins and blackbirds, the little tea servery looked out over a small lawn dotted with tables.
A modest selection of sandwiches and salads were available and also a few simple items on the daily specials board but, in big letters was the legend ‘clotted cream tea… £3.75’. Unable to resist the lure of fruit scone and thick yellow cream, an order was immediately placed and, staggering under the weight of the tray, Matt and Cat positioned themselves under a tree in case the sun should come out and shade be required. As it was it started to drizzle so the tree offered a small amount of protection from the raindrops but its new spring leaves were not quite formed enough to act as adequate umbrellas. But who cares about a few spots of the wet stuff when it’s time for tea!
One big scone, a punnet of strawberry jam and the aforementioned clotted cream were washed down with tea from a replenishable teapot – Matt and Cat are always pleased when they get a jug of hot water with which to eke out the bag. This was a very civilised cream tea and it took some effort for M and C to heave themselves out of their chairs and take a stroll around the garden, the beauty of which was not diminished by the increasing rain which splashed onto bluebells and weighted down the blossom on the apple-tree avenue.
Mottistone Manor tea garden is a lovely venue for a relaxing cuppa with the bonus of a walk around a historic landscape. Very nice.
Mottistone Manor Tea Garden