INNS AROUND THE ISLAND
Drawn and written by A W R Caws
The Crab and Lobster, Bembridge
NO DOUBT I'M PREJUDICED, after all I was born and spent much of my early life in Bembridge, so when I say that 'The Crab and Lobster' at Forelands is one of my favourite pubs you will have to make allowances for a bit of bias in this respect.
Anyway, should you call at this inn at say around one o'clock on a Sunday lunchtime you will, no doubt, find that a lot of other people appear to share my view.
'The Crab' built on the edge of the low cliff adjacent to the coastguard look-out post and overlooking the notorious Bembridge Ledge, although quite old, is, perhaps not the oldest hostelry in the district. Nevertheless it has been a meeting place for fishermen, coastguards, lifeboatmen and the like for many years.
I associate bearers of well-known Island names such as Baker and Holbrook with 'The Crab' and I daresay a Caws or two, over the years, has downed a pint or a tot on its premises. Forelands was until recent times a rather isolated corner of Bembridge, but now much of the adjoining land has been developed, it has become an integral part of the village, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, small town.
The inn consists of two bars, a dining room, and a sunny verandah, on which this week, in mid-December, I have seen people sitting at the tables taking refreshment and enjoying views across the channel in the winter sunshine.
You can expect to meet a wide cross- section of folk at 'The Crab'; in recent months I can recall talking with one of the army's better known generals and have, this morning, chatted with an old friend 'Freddie' who has for many years worked at one of the village butcher's shops.
It is still a favourite haunt of lifeboatmen and coastguards. Looking across the bar right now I can see Peter Smith, BEM the present RNLI Coxswain talking with Barry Dyer and other members of his crew.
During the sailing season, don't be surprised on occasions to see well-known political figures and service chiefs taking quiet meals in the dining room which has acquired a reputation for good food. If your needs are more modest try a dish of local prawns or, better still, a sandwich made from freshly caught lobster, at the snack bar. The two bright bars have a very cheerful atmosphere and are decorated with miniature crab pots and other articles associated with the sea. There are on the walls a selection of black and white drawings and colourful pastels of local views carried out in traditional manner by a local artist. These are offered for sale and no doubt prove popular with visitors wanting a souvenir of their holiday.The proprietor of 'The Crab' is a wellknown Bembridge character Hector Humphray, who in his youth was a noted Island sportsman. Together with his wife, he has created a delightful rendezvous, very popular with both local residents and visitors, and recommended in the Egon Ronay good food guide.