Saturday 20 June 2009
Beer gardens are heavenly
Beer gardens are just the most beautiful, sensual, relaxing, celebratory places to be when the sun shines and the beer in your glass is equally sunny. I sit outside the Exmoor Forest Inn in Simonsbath (the so-called capital of Exmoor — blink and you have driven through it) after completing my 16 miles on the annual Exmoor Perambulation (you can do either 16 or 31, I always plump for the former), a fantastic trawl through the glorious uplands of Exmoor where deep valleys cut through the heather and tough grass of the high moors. The sun is out, I have a pint of Budvar Draught in front of me, and contemplation has to give way to refreshment. It’s perfect though — funny to think that out here in the middle of nowhere a Czech lager is served with such joy and class. Pub gardens: last Sunday evening I was also out in the one that stands in front of the Crown at Churchill, an unspoilt, rustic, take-us-as-you-find-us place in the village of Churchill. The view was over towards Wales, while behind me the solid 19th century building was as still as a stopped clock. Beer and cider was dispensed: a pint of RCH was followed by a Thatcher’s cider (they make the stuff down the road). I was warned by the proprietor of the guest house I was staying in (early start for Bristol airport the next morning) that the Mendip Twister (I think) was lethal. At 9pm when a guest in the guest house shouted ‘wrong room’ as I tried to put my key into his door was sufficient evidence of a certain confusion.
The picture is of the Crown in Churchill, very Joy Division meets Edward Thomas if there is such a thing…