You could call me "The Teashop Queen" by Margaret Sheridan-Wallis
You could call me "The Teashop Queen", because I visit a teashop at least three or four times every week, in various places on this beautiful Isle of Wight. Today I’ll talk about Shanklin’s rich variety of teashops, because it is my home town.
There is no shortage of teashops in Shanklin, offering a wide range of teatime treats and delights. In fact, there are about a dozen, and that’s not including cafes and restaurants. If you are already familiar with Shanklin you will know that its quaint thatched cottages, and the olde-worlde charm of its picturesque old village, not to mention its many other attractions, have made it the favourite island haunt. Shanklin is a town for all seasons, and is vibrant throughout the year. A teashop is the perfect place, therefore, to take a break from your sight-seeing and browsing, so that you can relax and enjoy a little self-indulgence.
You may wonder why I visit teashops so regularly. Well, there is a very good reason: I am an avid writer, as well as co-owner of a local B&B, and so I always have endless projects to write, edit and complete. Though I could sit at home to work, I relish the thought of a daily excursion and, strangely enough, I am far more creative for the hour or two when I am away from home! It is like having a fresh office every day, and my ‘rent’ is a cappuccino in the morning, or tea and a toasted teacake later in the day. Hence, you could well call me ‘the teashop queen’! So let’s have a look at the range of teashops you will find in lovely Shanklin.
If you enjoy drinking from a pretty china cup, then you must visit Cinderella’s, on the corner of Landguard Road and High Street. Here you can enjoy your favourite type of coffee, made freshly from ground coffee beans, or delicious hot chocolate, juices, or tea, just as you like it. This delightful teashop is the epitome of charm, fashioned like a cosy sitting room, tables bedecked with fresh linen, vintage china, and a dresser of artefacts for sale, all made in the locality. Sarah and Toni, the stylish friendly owners, offer a range of delicious fresh food, from soup of the day with chunky bread, scrumptious home-made cakes, generous cream teas, sandwiches, toasted teacakes, and even gluten-free options. Not only is this a very popular teashop, but it is also a Dress Hire or Buy Agency as well, with rows of fabulous designer gowns, wraps and accessories in a showroom at the back of the shop . Should you wish to host your own tea party while you are visiting Shanklin, these ladies even hire out their china, and their pop-up teashop services as well.
Quite close to Boots, on the corner of Regent Street, is Poppins, another of my favourite teashops. A different Sarah owns this, and her menu is more focused on local business clients and the lunch set, as well as visitors to the town. Quiche of the Day, fresh soup, omelette, jacket potato, toasties, a variety of salads, and fillings for a fresh sandwich, pannini, or baguette, will delight any palate, not forgetting my favourite toasted teacake, and there is plenty for the sweet-toothed visitor as well! Glenys and Lily are the charming ladies who will generally serve you, and nothing is too much trouble for them. The daily paper and the local rag are available for you to catch up with the day’s news in the unhurried and pleasant atmosphere of Poppins.
A few doors down, you’ll find Grace’s Bakery, with a similar choice of light lunches, as well as a massive selection of cakes, pastries, scones, and buns. This is a family-run island bakery, with other branches across the island, and it has a fine reputation. There is plenty of space in the shop for those needing a coffee break or a light lunch while, alongside, the busy bakery has its irresistible loaves and cakes flying off the shelves.
Walking onwards in the same direction down Regent Street, turn left into Falcon Cross Road, and there, opposite the Co-Op (which is now the Bus Terminus) you will find Leafy Bean. This is the haven of the true coffee aficionado for, stacked on shelves across one complete side of the shop, there are jars and jars of every possible coffee bean and tea leaf. However, it is not just special ground coffee in a cafetiere that is available to quench your thirst, for there are the frothy milky styles as well as shakes, all sorts of tea, and refreshing cold drinks. Sandwiches, freshly-baked cakes, toasties, and all sorts of delectable temptations are also on parade, to tempt you to linger awhile in this homely coffee shop, including a gluten-free selection. Free refills of filter coffee are always on offer, and there is a friendly, family atmosphere in this wonderful shop which, though little in proportions, is big in character and welcome.
Heading back towards the old village, you will see Larry & Vicky’s character teashop called The Star. This couple has recently moved from a Sandown location, and have quickly established a strong new reputation in Shanklin, with a good range of food available for any time of the day. It is a spacious, historic building, leading down towards the prized chocolate-box image of the cluster of thatched cottages set in the bend of High Street as it joins Church Road.
Carry on down the hill and soon, stretching around a corner, you will see an iconic thatched cottage teashop which, maybe predictably, is called The Old Thatch. With its charming little nooks and crannies, its authentic old china, its artistic displays, an open garden in the summer, and an extensive tempting menu, you will surely relax and replenish your energy for further browsing. This has been an award-winning teashop in the past, according to its familiar old banner, but there is no date to tell us when it achieved this status.
There are so many more teashops that I could tell you about, but this half-dozen must suffice for now lest we get indigestion! What I can tell you for certain is this, you will be made welcome in all those teashops that I have mentioned, and more. Here’s wishing you a delightful tea time experience in quaint Shanklin.
Margaret and Graeme Sheridan-Wallis own Clarence House B&B in ClarenceGardens, Shanklin, telephone 01983 865090.