Ventnor, England: A bit of Isle-Wight (Alright)

I met Percy on Thursday. It was a little past midnight, we were at a table downstairs at Le Baron and I was sitting cross-legged, barefoot, with my loafers folded neatly behind me. It had been a night to grieve; just before Le Baron I was at the 'launch' of Voodoo Vault---which, by the way, was as dead as the crypt it was named after---in the club formerly known as Salon formerly known as Le Baron. Is that space cursed or what? Ever hopeful, we moved on to our trusty standby, Maddox. However a departing Molaroid and his flock of corseted females duly informed us of the futility of seeking any such amusement there, as it was d-e-a-d, dead-er than my love for The Box

And this is how I found myself downstairs at Le Baron, not even bothering to put on my dancing shoes or really any shoes at all. As my loafers poked my back, I gazed out at the dance floor. It was devoid of all that we loved about London nightlife; our friends (can you all please come back from Dubai/Paris/your full-time relationships?), the electric magic, and...something, perhaps the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a once easily pleased ingenue new to the London club scene yet to be jaded by endless rounds of free tables, free drinks, and scores of men begging to dance with her.

So Percy and I introduced ourselves and we talked; about mutual friends, about his label (PPQ), about the gentrification of Shoreditch, while I lifted my glass of champagne and toasted, sardonically, to the strangers on the dance floor. London. "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." I don't think so. I still love London, I'm just tired of the same-old same-old parties, the blah nightlife and dying clubs...

Happily, last Saturday a brief respite from London was offered when Percy texted "Be at yours with Benjamin in an hour. We're going to my country house." Of course nobody would tell me where we were going. They did solemnly suggest that they were going to France to sell me into slavery.

Thankfully the truth was far less exciting, we were in fact spending the weekend at P's country house in Ventnor, on the Isle Of Wight. 

*kindly excuse the poor quality of the photos; I left my Leica in London and had to make do with my iPhone. 

We made a pit stop at The Boat House. I later realised that almost every cafe, restaurant, and pub on The Isle Of Wight called themselves The Boat House. Confusing, indeed. The boys nommed on fish and chips---P is obsessed with peas---while I daintily dabbed at my fish pie, leaving the salad untouched. 

The sun set on us as we took a long, scenic drive through the countryside to the house.

We woke to an especially foggy day...

...but the sun soon came out to play on Ventnor town.

The boys suggested we go for a walk.

This is where the cultural difference happened. In Malaysia, a walk means 'walk 5 minutes to the valet and wait for him to fetch your car for you'. In England, a walk means 4 hours (2 each way!) across the coastline, over hills, through parks, and far over the misty mountains cold to dungeons deep and caverns old. I had to be carried part of the way---usually uphill---and gasped and panted at the top of every stairway.

Thankfully I had B's antics to keep me amused and distracted.

We made a couple of pit stops along the coastline for tea.

We had an afternoon tea of ice cream; ginger (a fiery local specialty!) for the boys, clotted cream (essentially frozen butter) for me.

The boys had cake (coffee and chocolate) and pots of tea while I ran down to the beach and got busy.

The most lopsided heart I ever did draw (with a spoon), how did I ever become an illustrator? And I dropped my bank card on the sand and nobody realised for a good hour, until a local picked it up and returned it to me just as the tide came in and threatened to swallow it up. *le facepalm*

We continued with our walk, up Steephill Cove, past cricket grounds...

...and saucily named streets...

...through parks...

...and stopped for a drink at The Royal

The Royal is predictably pretty on the inside, but on a sunny day like that there was only one place to be---in the garden.

Actually, I stand corrected, the only place to be on a rare sunny English day is by the pool.

B and P (oh dear, that sounds like a far-right party) looking up 'China facekinis' on the internet, as per my urging. Giggles ensued. 

Tired of the tiny swimming pool and pretty but static view we moved on, through winding countryside...

B: "Did you take these photos with a 'poor quality video' filter? Nice car though."
Me "No, this is what happens when you zoom in on an iPhone while in a moving car driving through country roads..."

We drove across the island to Bembridge to pay Tim a visit at his family home.

I tested my theory that the best way to get a man to do something for you, is to do it yourself, badly. 

He will then either jump to your rescue, eager to show you how it's done, or exasperated, pick up where you left off and finish the job. That is exactly how I got the pool to be cleaned.

B doing me proud. Go get those leaves, handsome!

B feeling proud, as he rightly should.

Roy the melancholy having a little hair of the dog.

All that watching B swim made us rather hungry, so Tim, Percy, Benjamin and I went to Shed for a tapas dinner.

The food was excellent, the service was exemplary, the jazz music was good, but most of all the company was hilarious.

We watched Percy burn his mouth not heeding the warning "One f***ing drop at a time, Perce!" on the bottle, the boys stared transfixed as I showed them the right way to suck prawn heads, my flower crown got passed around, as plate after plate of tapas was devoured. We had the sharing platter for four, which I highly recommend, and an extra order of cous-cous and bread to mop up all the delicious sauces leftover from our meal. Oh my god...the lamb tagine...the creamy mushrooms...the calamari...and I'm typing this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

 The next day we packed up and drove back to London. I did end up missing at least 3 events in London, but was is that compared to fresh seaside air and uproarious company? You could say that it all turned out all-Wight.


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