Tuesday 22 December 2009

Getting all sentimental cause it’s Xmas

Back from my local across the road earlier on, Christmas drinks and all that (the barley wine is surprising quite a few folk) and I wanted to pay tribute (no pun intended) to a pub that has been one of the best in a life of pub-going — though I review pubs for a living, this is one I always come back to with infinite joy even if I have been searching out saisons in Wallonia or tracking down a Baltic porter in the east (and in 2010 I suspect when I come back from the US it will remain a haven). So at this time of the year I thought it appropriate to pen a few words about its joys — if you’re around this neck of the woods (so to speak) over the holiday pop in, I might be around. Happy Christmas.

Looking about Woods you would think it has been around forever — the interior is ancient wood fittings, exposed stone walls and a bar that seems to have been hewn out of oak. The walls are covered with all manner of traditional countryside paraphernalia (some currently sporting a Yuletide makeover: Santa’s hat sits on the head of a stuffed otter, tinsel is draped around antlers). However, this former bakery has only been a pub since 2004, but it rapidly became my local when I lived eight miles away on Exmoor. Now, I’m 200 metres around the corner and during the Christmas season there is no better place I would rather drink. There will be a log fire crackling in the corner, while the aroma of food will waft from the kitchen — try the slow roasted belly of pork, which comes from the landlord’s own pigs. Meanwhile a pint of St Austell’s gold-coloured Proper Job will glint and sparkle in the light and later on in the day when the temperature has dropped, a fiery draught of St Austell’s Smugglers barley wine is called for. Afterwards, stroll down to the River Barle and if you are feeling particularly energetic you can walk to Tarr Steps, one of Exmoor’s most famous beauty spots.

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