|Elaborate tilted jam jar fun at the Eagle and Child|
Donny bus station had a slight air of menace and think the lack of soothing bus station muzak (see Keighley and Huddersfield) may have been the cause. It is also worth noting that 84.3% of Donny girls aged 14-21 have greasy hair. Not my opinion, a scientific fact. Bus 91 then confused me by turning up earlier than the scheduled Robin Hood airport one.
All I knew about this pub prior to arrival was that Mark from work (my Donny area contact) once played in a football match away to the Eagle & Child on a pitch behind the pub but despite pressing him, he could not remember the score.
25 minutes later, and with dusk well and truly falling on a cold night, I was trying to cross a busy main road with a friendly couple who'd 'alighted' with me, with Tom's idea of me wearing fluorescent strips and bright colours ringing very true. We made it across eventually, the couple also going into the pub to 'have a meal' (spit!)
|Note the silhouetted bus couple just ahead of me.|
In the confusion of after work drinkers and diners (and a 'restaurant' i,e. side pub room which no-one wanted to use), I didn't spot the guest ales but luckily a £3.30 Tim Taylor Landlord went down a treat. The staff were all smiling friendly young females, and really put in the effort with the customers, one who mostly stood out reminded me of a pretty version of WWF legend the Ultimate Warrior. I found a totally empty side bar with bench seating and the guest beers, it was a no-brainer to sit in here, but even then there was a sign saying that your own food cannot be eaten on the premises - thanks Adolf! As has been discussed recently on pubby Twitter blogs, the 'jam jars' used to display the colour of the (cloudy version of) ales were the largest and most grand I've ever seen. Interestingly, or not, whilst the Abbeydale Moonshine and (gorgeous) Stancill India Ruby had them, the John Smith's Cask did not. The locals as well as staff had seemed a friendly bunch (I was facing the door so was a glorified meeter and greeter) but one older man who came in with wife and daughter told me to "get back in the kitchen!" I realised not having had time to change from my white work shirt and suit trousers meant I looked like one of my most despised race of people .... the pub waiter!! I protested my innocence, I mean would they really sit there with a GBG and highlighter pen on their breaks? One of the local drinker men stood at the bar then couldn't find a barmaid, so nimbly leant across to pour his own Smith's Smoothflow and no-one batted an eyelid. Proper South Yorkshire, but I'd like to have seen him look so nonchalant using a hand pull. It was bus time.
|View of the bar.|
Ever the optimist, I acted as though the next hourly bus 19:36 would be on time and luckily, it turned up bang on schedule. And who should rush to get on at the last minute but the couple I'd arrived with, full up from their meal and blissfully unaware of the traffic and 18:36 heartache?! Life isn't fair.
And back at the Donny end, I had further delays getting back to York, eventually home about 9:15pm. A lot of effort for one pub, but it was a good one & good experience. If this is a blueprint for all Berkshire pubs (which isn't logical I know), I'll be well away!
|My private secluded drinkers room in Auckley.|
I recently did an unscientific survey on my blog to try and find out what you all think is the most important factor to enjoy a pub. In a slightly surprising but pleasing result, STAFF came out on top and I certainly think good, friendly staff are an underrated factor in pub enjoyment. Beer Quality, Pub Hubbub and Atmosphere were runner up categories. Interestingly, nobody who responded thought Beer Range or having FOOD or games in a pub significantly enhanced their enjoyment.
In my next survey, I'll be asking about the people you drink with in a bid to find if the type of company you keep during your pub time makes a difference to your pubbing experience. Results at the end of this month.