Many tourists come a long way to visit the Isle of Wight – so, says Cat, for those lucky enough to already live on the Island, why not play at being a holidaymaker when you can? After all, if this undulating county is a good enough destination for visitors, it should be more than good enough for a bit of grockle make-believe. Donning her most florid sunhat and with her camera slung around her neck, Cat went undercover in search of cream tea – like so many millions before her.
Accompanied by a compliant chum, Cat found herself in the tourist Mecca that is Shanklin Old Village with its picturesque thatched buildings, grotto-esque chine, and abundance of knick-knackery to purchase. Gasping for a cup of tea after staring open-mouthed in the windows of the trinket shops (shell animal with googly eyes, anyone?), Cat and pal trotted eagerly into the beautiful gardens of Vernon Cottage.
Sitting in the shade of a big umbrella, they perused the extensive menu. This is certainly a venue which caters for all tastes and budgets, from the parsimonious to the profligate. And, for those of you who would like the taste of seafood without investing in the wallet-punishing lobster and seafood platter (£34.99), there are always what are prominently heralded as “the best fishcakes in the world”!
Despite the overwhelming selection, Cat stuck to her traditions and ordered a cream tea with plain scones, although both the cinnamon and fruit scones did sound very tasty. Cat’s chum had her head turned by the prospect of a trio of vegetarian sausages (this meant, it transpired, that there were three of them – but they did not sing in harmony) and mash with what was optimistically labelled “unique homemade Vernon Cottage caramelised red onion gravy”. Cat went inside the well-appointed and spacious cottage to place the order. By the time she had been served, visited the ‘facilities’ and got back to her seat in the garden, the cream tea was delivered. Cripes, what speedy service!
Understandably, the veggie sausages took a bit longer to arrive, being freshly cooked.
It didn’t take Cat long to eat her cream tea; it was delicious, and good value at £3.95 – particularly the tea. With the addition of hot water, Cat was able to wring four cups of tea out of the pot. Great! The sausage and mash went down a treat too. The gravy was particularly pleasant, whether or not it was unique it was certainly neither too runny or too thick – the perfect consistency. The peas looked nice and juicy, not the often shrivelled offerings, and the sausages were light on grease (possibly grilled?).
Once the food had been eaten and their plates taken, Cat and chum lounged on their bench putting the world to rights as the sun started to set on picturesque Shanklin. Soon it would be time to hang up the garish sunhat and go back to the salt-mine but, for a few hours, it was great to play at being a tourist and for Cat to stuff her face with cream tea. You don’t have to be a grockle to enjoy the hospitality of Vernon Cottage, although, if you order the cream tea, please do let Matt and Cat know if it really is the fastest cream tea in the world!
Vernon Cottage, Shanklin