On awaking on Christmas morning in my fabulous room in the enviable position of overlooking the chilly sea I was fortunate to catch the remnants of the sunrise and could set up my tripod and fire off a few shots without having to brave the frosty elements.
Despite not leaving out any mince pies nor a tot of whiskey, I had been visited (by a red besuited and bearded man perhaps?), and hanging from my door handle was a bulging red velvet stocking filled with all sorts of surprise goodies: chocolates, dried fruit and nuts, Christmas pudding, festive fragrant herb bag, candy cane and the obligatory satsuma. I've even got some Robert Thompson recipes to try at home. Merry Christmas to me! Not having ever stayed in a hotel at Christmas I don't know if this de rigeur but I thought it was such fabulous touch especially after believing that this particular solo Christmas would be surprise free! I suspect that it's just another reason why this is a special place to stay - thank you Alistair Sawday for the recommendation.
Christmas breakfast were some delicate soft folds of creamy scrambled eggs topped with rosy slices of smoked salmon. I had considered washing it down with Champagne but decided to save that for lunch.
Talking of lunch, if I had the merest hope of being able to eat another mouthful ever again I better don my unusually sensible hiking boots, hats and scarves a plenty and hit that beach. Perhaps if I stroll up and down it for a couple of hours and check out the rest of Ventnor I will be able to build up an appetite. Perhaps!
During the winter the local dog walkers are allowed to release their excitable hairy charges onto the beach, so the surprisingly bright day was full of happy dogs, people wearing red hats trimmed with white fluff, the annual wearing of the festive socks and the whoops of children practicing riding their new scooters and bikes on the deserted seafront.
Ventnor has the customary fish and chip café, bucket and spade shop, ice cream parlor and amusement arcade (all very much with hatches battened down today) but it all seemed rather quaint.
There seemed to be the distinct lack of tawdriness that some seaside resorts have. It's clean and neat, the air filled with crying swooping seagulls and that evocative salty tang to the air.
There is a touch of back and beyond to it all and again I'm intrigued why Robert Thompson chose here to build his gourmet Mecca. But as a much cleverer restaurant reviewer remarked quoting the infamous line from the Field of Dreams - "If you build it, they will come!"
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