Saturday 7 May 2011

Taking a holiday in other people’s happiness

Halfway House, Pitney, where I engaged in a scintillating
conversation with  a local about the filthiness of farmhouse cider
Am currently writing a pub book that has involved visiting loads of them (for instance I’m hoping to get to four today, was at one last night and two on Thursday) — it’s very much brief visits, taking a holiday in other people’s happiness as the Sex Pistols might have said if they’d been happy types. However, what it’s reminding me, as if I really needed to be reminded, is that despite difficult trading, pessimism over pub cos, beer prices etc, the pub stands firm. I don’t subscribe to the notion that we are seeing the last of pubs, but I also don’t feel that there is a need for complacency. Last night I was at the Yarcombe Inn, a rural roadside boozer that was shut for a couple of years and then — with the help of a TV programme — opened up again with the help of the local community. I walked in and the barman immediately engaged me in a conversation about the rain — I felt welcome. At the bar, people came and went, knew each other, there was a real sense of community; the beer — Otter Amber — was light and refreshing and the interior a mish mash of old agricultural inn ambience with various amendments down the years. It was homely, comfortable, uncluttered and organic. I loved it. I’m not surprised that the local CAMRA branch made it their pub of the year. Another pub that I also swooned over was the Crown in Stockport and you can read my review of it in today’s Daily Telegraph here.

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