Guest post from Gillie Goodwin, owner of The Island Hideaway

It was in 1994 that we as a family moved from Windsor to the Isle of Wight. We discovered a wonderful island stone house dating from 1810 that had been built originally for Sir Francis Pittis. In recent times it had been sadly neglected and so we set about the task of restoring it to its former glory. It had survived in a three acre garden with woodland copse teeming with wildlife. We have red squirrels that feed most days at the feeders, foxes and badgers that pass through the garden, and many bird species. Woodpeckers, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, dunnocks, robins and wrens are all regular visitors.

Some years ago we decided to convert a tumbledown stable in a tranquil area of the garden overlooking the croquet lawn into my husband’s garden study after he moved his work space from Covent Garden in London.

An island firm designed a clapperboard cabin and built it beautifully. Recently we decided to convert it into a guest cottage. We re-purposed the space into a separate bathroom and bedroom, adding a kitchen to the sitting room. We painted it a sea-washed turquoise on the outside and calming neutral shades of blue grey and taupe inside. It is very relaxing with views out to the sea over the bay. We see many passing liners on their way out of Portsmouth or Southampton harbours, local fishermen collecting lobsters and other catches in the mornings. Regular ferries pass to and from the Channel Islands.

The Summer House

In a peaceful area of the garden I used to dream about building a special place to retreat to, to read or paint or just to be. Inspired by a childhood love of beach huts, I set about designing what became the summerhouse. A talented carpenter from the island was willing to build it and I set about sourcing all the building materials from reclamation yards and homes that were being demolished, climbing through piles of rejected materials to discover hidden treasures. A favourite find was the beautiful barge boarding which gives the summerhouse its unique style. We dug a pond in front of it so that the veranda of the summer house would feel suspended above the water. Old fashioned roses clamber over the wood made from cedar shingles which have weathered to a silvery grey. It was finished in time for Christmas 1998. We planned to paint the exterior when it was completed, but it just settled into the landscape and seemed as if it had been there forever!  The interior was painted a delicate shade of blue, chosen to reflect the vistas of sea and sky. An antique blue wood burning stove from France completed the interior and provides a great place to sit and toast marshmallows on a winter evening! Vintage accessories and furniture were all sourced from the island. The double doors allow you to sit watching the sun rise over the sea.

Working closely with the carpenter and with a natural affinity to detail I was involved in every stage of the creation of this special space. I learnt from this project that it is possible to not only dream but also to create what we see in our imagination.

It has given great pleasure to our family and friends over the years. My husband has used it a great deal for his own writing. It feels as if the busy world fades away when you step inside…