Our final day on the Isle of Wight was blemished with gale force winds of 40mph, but with the vast array of activities available on the Island, we were glad to enjoy an excursion of the 'indoor' variety and took shelter at Farringford; Alfred Lord Tennyson's former home. Owners Martin Beisley and Rebecca Fritzgerald are lovingly restoring the old manor to its former glory, unearthing hidden treasures as they go along. Not yet open to visitors, the invitation of a preview tour by the incredibly knowledgeable Martin was highly cherished and as a writer of fiction, the tour, for me, was a wonderful indulgence and an unforgettable highlight of the trip.
The Farringford estate is also home to Justin Brown at Farringford, an outwardly unassuming looking restaurant that resides within the gardens of Farringford. Inside, the restaurant enjoys a clean and minimalistic décor, a scatter of quotes from Tennyson's works and a fantastic wood fired oven.
Slow roasted tomato and basil soup for the first course was the perfect choice for a cold and windy day; rich and smooth and excellently seasoned. Very possibly the best tomato soup I have had. Next, I enjoyed the simple and fresh flavours of a beautifully presented medley of sweet honey roasted parsnip, wild mushrooms, celeriac puree and a perfectly poached egg. For dessert I chose the chocolate brioche pudding - a sensationally sweet and ambrosial indulgence accompanied by a very necessary strong coffee. A superb ending to a delicious trip.
The sun barely peered out at us through the slits of its grey cloud duvet, sunglasses were made redundant and the idea of sandals was simply silly on my very first trip to the Isle of Wight. But I returned to London having enjoyed every minute of my time on the Island and a longing to visit again very very soon.
Useful Information and links:
Travelling from Southampton, return Isle of Wight Ferry travel with Red Funnel start at £45 for a short break. Red Funnel offers a great selection of Isle of Wight hotels on their website, with up to £50% off ferry travel if you book your accommodation with them. Call 0844 844 9988 or visit www.redfunnel.co.uk
The West Bay Club is a holiday village on the Isle of Wight offering luxury self-catering accommodation in 'New England' cottages. 01983 760355 or visit www.westbayclub.co.uk
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