I have been a little quiet of late, fans, and there is a reason for this. Jane has been on holiday without me, to somewhere called Morocco. She said I would not like it there. It is 42 degrees heat and there are no squirrels to chase – just camels, which, Jane says, would get the hump if I snapped at their heels. So I have been guarding the homestead in the hood in her absence. Foxes. Squirrels. Blackguards!
This past weekend, however, was the birthday of Jane’s friend Elisa and, to celebrate, the girls decided to paint the Isle of Wight red. Going to the Isle of Wight was a big adventure for me – and me visiting was a big honour for the island. We have featured the Isle of Wight before on Phileas Dogg, through the eyes of some rover reporters who live there, but I, intrepid Attlee, had never set paw there, despite the requests of many local dignitaries that I should. Now that has changed.
It is easy for us dogs to reach the island as we travel, free, on the Wightlink ferries from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde. It is a 20-minute journey. Outward bound, it was very pleasant as we sat on deck and watched the sun set. The return leg, however, was not so good. A force eight gale was blowing. Jane was sick as a dog; Elisa felt sick as a dog. I, however, had found my salty sea paws and the SAUSAGES I’d consumed for breakfast did not make a re-appearance.
Enough of the vomit. The first interesting aspect of the Isle of Wight is that there is a tube train. It runs from Ryde Harbour, through various spots, to Shanklin, where our kip was. This was a thing of amazement to Jane and me. They can run a tube train on the Isle of Wight but they cannot run a tube train in Camberwell, only two miles from central London. (Jane says that if Camberwell had a tube train our property price would rocket and we could buy a small mansion in the countryside, where I could chase squirrels all day while she penned best-selling novels.)
Everybody had told us, prior to our departure to the Isle of Wight, that many aspects of island life were stuck in the 1970s, as if this were a bad thing. I believed this could be a goooood thing. The 1970s was a golden age for us canines. The Littlest Hobo began in 1979 and Hobo is something of a personal hero of mine. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down; until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on…
So here is what was reminiscent of the 1970’s, on the Isle of Wight:
Rum and Raisin ice cream, bought from Candy Cottage, in the village of Godshill, a few miles from Shanklin. Delicious!
People are polite and laid-back. I believe this is what people were like in the 1970’s, although I have no direct knowledge or certain facts on this.
Crazy golf. Crazy golf was extremely popular in the 1970s, as there was no television and people had little else to occupy themselves with. However I was not keen on the crazy golf as Jane basically attached me to a lamp post in the middle of the course, and abandoned me, so hell bent as she was on beating Elisa to the 19th hole. (She didn’t – Elisa won.) Serves Jane right for abandoning me IN THE RUFF – this was really not cricket.
On Saturday, we walked along the coast from our hotel in Shanklin to Sandown, about two and a half miles. (This is nothing to do with the 1970’s but I can’t think of a neat segue from one topic to the next. Sorry.)
Because it was late September some of the beaches were dog-friendly and some were not – from October to May all the beaches on the island are dog-friendly all year round. But the best beach, Small Hope (strangely named as there was Big Hope – big hope of stealing another dog’s ball; big hope of barking at the sea and making it scared; big hope of Jane buying me a sausage from the little café) is dog friendly all year round. Look – it even had brightly painted kennels especially for us dogs. Grrrr-huzzah – now that is friendly.
After the walk, we were in Sandown town, where there is a strip of hotels with terraces looking out to sea. We settled on the terrace at The Daville for curried chips – Jane – and mini Marrowbones – me, served at no charge by the friendly owner, who recognises a VIP visitor when he sees one. Jane had never heard the word Daville, which she assumed was French. But no, the owner told us, the truth is far more prosaic than that. The Daville is named in honour of the previous incumbent – Dave Hill. Daville – Dave Hill. See what they have done there. (Elisa would like it put on record that she is not entirely convinced by this story.)
The present owner of the Daville recommended Godshill village as the prettiest place on the island so we three grockles (as they call tourists on the island, which raised my hockles) caught the local bus there.
At first Godshill didn’t look like much but that’s because we’d alighted a stop too early. In fact, one of the finest dog-friendly attractions I have ever visited – a deserving recipient of the Phileas Dogg Special Paw Print of Approval – was there. Godshill Model Village, so perfect it could have been made by God himself, although not in seven days – it’s too good for that.
Godshill Model Village does exactly what it says on the tin – Butcher’s Superior, please. The model village is a MODEL OF THE VILLAGE. It has a model pub and a model church and a model railway and a model butchers with model SAUSAGES, all set amongst prettily manicured and pruned mini-trees, that Jane would not let me lift my leg against – that’s how pretty they were!
There was a model pub, though, so I stopped in for a model pint of beer, being a MASSIVE boozehound.
Elisa, Jane and I all agreed that Godshill Model Village is one of the best places where we have ever set foot/ paw – a tribute to English eccentricity and quirk. It is totally open to dogs – there is even a big bowl of water left out for us. But, what really impressed me as a holidaying hound, is that the village’s model dogs are as big as its model humans. I could tell that the people who built it, 60 years ago, were people of integrity and intelligence who recognised that a dog is a human’s equal and decided to symbolise this equality for generations to come by making dogs and humans the same size. Forget God – DOG himself must have created this canine Xanadu.
Phileas Phacts: Shanklin and the Isle of Wight
- Jane, Elisa and Attlee played Crazy Golf at Pirates Cove Adventure Playground, The Esplanade, Shanklin, PO37. Tel: 01983 863744. £4.50 for adults; £3.50 for children; free for dogs.
Dave Hill’s – or The Daville – is at Belvedere Hotel, Esplanade, Sandown, Isle of Wight, PO38 8AE. Tel: 01983 404634
- Godshill Model Village is at High Street, Godshill, Isle of Wight, PO38 3HH Tel: 01983 840200; www.modelvillagegodshill.co.uk
- Travelling around the Isle of Wight by public transport is easy. For bus timetables and fares, log on to http://www.islandbuses.info.
- Dogs travel FREE on Wightlink ferries. Log on to www.wightlink.co.uk. Foot passenger fares start from £12.50 for a day return and car ferry fares start from £36 for a day return for a car and four passengers.
And, finally, a big shout out and high paw-up to The Melbourne Ardenlea Hotel where Jane, Elisa and Attlee stayed for their two night trip to theIsle of Wight. Attlee says: ‘This is one of the dog-friendliest hotels I have ever stayed in. I was greeted, by name, upon my arrival, and all the staff lined up to shake my paw as I made my way to the room. All manner of delights awaited me therein – a packet of dog treats, a massive china bowl for my food and water and the most comfortable bed I have ever graced with my presence. What’s more, instead of a silly do not disturb the bipeds sign for the door, there was a do not disturb the canines sign. I have never seen such in any other kip and it is a marvellous innovation.’
- The Melbourne Ardenlea, 4-6 Queen’s Road, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 6AN Tel: 01983 862596; www.mahotel.co.uk Prices start at £79.50 per room for a double; dogs stay free.