Arreton Barns: Shipwrecks and Slotties

Kurt gets sidetracked from ‘time out’

Kurt spends his time trotting the world seeking the finest. He’s a respected reviewer with over 20 years experience, so knows a thing or two about it and isn’t shy to give his opinion – Ed.

Arreton Barns: Shipwrecks and SlottiesSunday evening. And I’m starting to feel just a bit worn and torn with all this lunching and dining and zooming around the Island. I’ll have a couple of quiet days ‘in’, with just picnics on my hilltop.


Monday, young Mr Ryan Burr had an evening off, so I zoomed away in his dashing coup̩ Рoccupying the seat I suspect is usually that of his latest blonde Рfor a splendid evening out

Where does one go with the Rising Young Chef of the place? To the Established Star Chef, of course. So, once more, back to the Royal Hotel and … well, I don’t need to tell you.

Picnic Obligatory
Tuesday I shut my ears to all offers and ideas, and around midday snuck quietly and quickly forth to gather picnic materials for the evening.

Arreton Barns: Shipwrecks and SlottiesI returned home four hours later. I’d got my picnic, but I’d also got sidetracked. Because I went shopping at Farmer Jack’s. And, since I was at Arreton – this time well-populated with coaches and many more than 77 cars — I naturally popped into the Daughter for a pint, and couldn’t resist a return to the ‘machines’.

Spend a penny!
Well, I was wrong – most of them are post-Victorian – but hey! most of them are also in working order. And were they working! Happy punters, equipped with handsful of old pennies, crowded the two rooms, merrily playing machines that are ten times more fun that the flashing-light gizmos of today. I felt I was back in the beloved Blackpool of my twenties! Brilliant.

I should have put a penny into ‘The French Execution’, which I assume is – behind its secret doors — a gory guillotine exhibition, I should have tried ‘The Drunkard’s Dream’ and watched the room go round, or ‘The Spiritualist Room’. I wonder what happens there. I am too modest, of course, for ‘The Peeping Butler’ (‘adults only’).

Arreton Barns: Shipwrecks and SlottiesWrecked Ships and horseshoes
From the machines, I continued on, this time, to the Shipwreck Museum: a splendid collection of maritime memorabilia – even a Feejee Mermaid! — put together over half a century by Mr Martin Woodward, and supplemented by all sorts of exhibitions of rural machinery and tools.

I was a bit alarmed to see the tractor I still use on my farm classed as an antique, and several of the instruments in the ancient forge also looked all too familiar, as did the heap of rusting horseshoes, which gave me just a twinge of ‘homesickness’.

I reckon personal collections always make the best (small) museums, and such museums – from Dimbola to Brighstone to Arreton – you seem to have a fill of.

Arreton Barns: Shipwrecks and SlottiesWhat about the picnic?
Before I knew it, more than two hours had gone by.

I don’t spend two hours in the Louvre. And I don’t spend ten minutes around ‘the slotties’.

Two hours and I hadn’t bought a single picnickable item. I hastened on to Farmer Jack’s. And that’s another story.

For this one, just let me say – mums and dads, and grandmums and granddads – take the kids to Arreton Barns and let them have a go on the slot-machines of our era, and our parents’ era.

And while you are there, have a try on ‘The Peeping Butler’ for me.

Opinion Piece

Thursday, 15th July, 2010 12:57pm



Filed under: Arreton, Isle of Wight Opinion Pieces, Tourism, Writers

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