Tuesday 8 September 2020


The good thing about the current Travelodge regulations of 'not trying to clean your room until your stay is over' is that you can accidentally snooze your alarm for an hour (like I did on Saturday morning) and you don't get an embarrassing 9:30am knock on your door with someone trying to change your towels or top up your tea bags, coffee, milk n sugar.

And yet, I was still waiting for the pub at South Godstone to open for a good 20 minutes, so I must have seriously overestimated the time I thought it'd take to get there.

I firstly made my way to London Bridge .....

.... from where I took a train to Godstone for my one really remaining difficult Surrey 'tick', after a change at a place called 'Tonbridge'.  More on that later but I'll warn you now, it is in Kent and I vowed not to do Kent pubs til at least 2025.

You walk north along the A22 which has a pavement which is good because it is a scary old road, but then you turn left onto the peaceful Harts Lane and the pub is at the far end.  If you are a quick walker, you can do it in about 23 minutes.  

I lurked in a field with my cauliflower and a bunch of sheep, I ate a flapjack and hoped the neighbours in the cottage opposite weren't calling the police or informing the local neighbourhood watch …..

11:55am, time to do a bit of a recce.  First sign I saw wasn't particular encouraging for a great pub experience …

Doggy cask, and the words 'country' and 'dining' are all BRAPA red flags

But the pub itself looked nice.  I hid just out of view as a bloke wrestled with a hand santiser stand, which at least seemed to prove this pub was opening at noon as I'd hoped.

12:01pm, I'd waited long enough!  But the pub entrance door was closed again.  Barmaid sees me waiting, quickly apologises and opens up.  "It's okay, gave me chance to familiarise myself with the rules!" I lie through my teeth, and follow her in.  Welcome to Fox & Hounds, South Godstone (1828) The satisfaction of getting my most difficult remaining Surrey pub chalked off is cause enough for celebration, but I'm delighted to find myself balls-deep in plush, carpetted, beamed, low roofed pub since 1601, atmospheric joy.  True, it might not feel like this when the diners start piling in to the restaurant area (the phone is already ringing off the hook with requests) , but this is why doing pubs like this at opening time or midweeks is always the best idea.  A large number of staff are huddled behind the small bar, trying to get organised for the lunchtime rush.  If me asking for a pint of Landlord is inconvenient, the young lad doesn't show it, only embarrassed cos he's lost the card reader which is directly in front of him.  It reminds me so much of a cosier White Horse at Hedgerley in many respects,  but mainly because I'm picturing the staff as one family who live here, probably sat in their pyjamas eating toast and watching SpongeBobSquarePants at 11:30am when one of them says "shit, look at the time, we'd better get opening!"  Or that could be my imagination.  Above the sixties music, a new barmaid with a complicated name is getting an on the spot training session from the landlady, who asks her name again, shattering my 'imagined family' unless Mum's just got a bad memory.  I overhear that I could've got a TWAMRA discount, but failed sadly.  Finally, another customer.  Local with element of Ken Barlow.   They all know him.  Orders a bottle of red for himself, and looks at it more lovingly than I've ever looked at Colin.  He's in for a fun afternoon.  I say goodbye to him, cos he's nearer than the staff, and leave.  More enjoyable experience than I'd expected, good pub.

Despite getting my head down and trying to beat my 23 minute walk I took to get here, I fail but am back at Godstone station in plenty of time for the train.

One of the three stops between Godstone is called Penshurst, and when I look at the GBG, there is a pub only half a mile away.  Hurrah!  

So what a momentous errrm moment ..... my first Kent pub tick since BRAPA officially began.  True, I had a trip in 2013 when 'Q was for Queenborough' in my A-Z Aleway Adventure, but of the five pubs I did that day, only two are still in the Guide and they are in Rochester.  Both very good.

The sun finally came out too, this must be why they call it the Garden of England, though a family holiday a few years back to Hythe and Dymchurch had me wondering about that.  Can't remember exactly where we stayed, I just didn't like it on one walk when my Mum kept saying 'Lyminge' over and over again. 

It was an even shorter walk as I found a cut through a new housing estate, to a very rural backdrop where the pub was situated ......

But any 'Welcome to Kent' vibe had to be put on ice here at Greyhound, Charcott (1829) as I didn't even get through the entrance when some energetic, efficient staff intercepted me and asked if I wanted to sit in or out.  I managed to peer in just enough to see it wasn't too pubby, so I went to sit in the sunny garden (there was a tent, but nah) and a polite but timid ginger haired freckled lass said she'd be with me in a bit.  I'd already said I was only here for a pint of ale, so it was a bit annoying when she came to serve me, didn't know what ales were on, had to go back in, check, and come back out again, and then reeled them off with such a vengeance, that the only word I heard was 'stout' so went with that!  After all, I was against the clock, wanting to get the hourly train back to Tonbridge.  I'd not positioned myself well, 4 twilds and 4 adults on the table beyond me and what a pain in the arse they were.  Some sounded Scottish too.  One of the Mums lined them all up for a running race, which they did over and over again down the length of the garden!  Even when our ginger heroine was collecting a large amount of glasses, Twummy didn't stop them.   It was only when another group of Cauliflower-less adults turned up and looked vaguely annoyed, she said "people are trying to have a relaxing drink here".  It didn't stop one of the boy twilds coming up to my table, eyeballing Colin, slamming his fists on the bench, and running off.  Mum looks at me like "boys will be boys".  Useless parenting.  Kids n pubs, a losing combination.  Then a wasp drowns in my Muggy Porter and I have to use the Stabilo lid to fish it out.  Five second rule.   I'd already commandeered our ginger heroine to see if I could pay for my drink NOW (of course it was one of those 'pay at the end' places).   She says 'yes of course' but then returns to tell me the signal won't reach this far and they are card only so I'll have to go inside.  Luckily, there's a guy waiting for me.  More time lost.  I go to the loo while I'm there, they have annoying names - 'bulls' n 'cows' so I stand there working out my bovine anatomy til I remember I have bullocks.  More time lost.  The loos are annoying, weird urinals made of beer kegs and then, strange quirky taps impossible to start or stop.  Grrrrrr.  I go back out, nearly collide with one of the Dad's.  He doesn't even acknowledge my presence, ignorant twerp.  They are getting ready to leave, same as me, so I hurry myself up.  Clouds are gathering, other Dad sticks hand in the air. "I predict it will rain in the next hour" he says rather pompously to Ethan, the Twildiest Twild of them all.   I'm thinking 5 mins before rain.  I'm off anyway.  Fuck me, if this is what Kentish pub ticking is all about, can I get out now?? 

Despite getting drenched, I take some satisfaction in the fact the heaven's open shortly after I leave the pub.  I hope the tossers got drenched.  I make the train fairly comfortably, despite the Greyhound's best efforts to slow me down at every turn.  

Off to Tonbridge we go!  Four pubs here, which will take me nicely up to six for the day if I can see them all through.  Just like Bromley last night, nice when the maths works out.

They are pronouncing Tonbridge as 'Tunbridge', which seems confusing to me as Tunbridge Wells is only a few miles south, a good BRAPA destination for another day.  That means Tunbridge Wells will have to be constantly referred to as 'Tunbridge Wells' and not shortened, unless they call it 'Wells' but then you might think you are in Somerset.  Crazy stuff from the Kentonians.  

And this as I'm still reeling from their Leigh being pronounced 'Lye' instead of 'Lee'.  Insanity.  Come on Kent, sort it out!  

Anyway, no time to worry about such things as I'd not bought a train ticket so have to do a quick manoeuvre when I see the barriers closed, NOT that I was fare evading, it was just trying to get me to use a code for a non existent machine.  I mumble something in Yorkshire about an ailing whippet, so a guy lets me through.

No idea what pub to aim for, I just find myself walking down some backstreets til I come to first one on my map ..... here it is ......

No better pub location in my opinion than a backstreet local, blending in with terraced houses around it.  Lovely.  And this was true of Nelson Arms, Tonbridge (1830) which looking back, I think was my favourite of the 4 GBG entries I visited.  Now this might be because it was the one I was most observant in, but I just think it had a quality beyond the lovely location about it that made it unique, just felt a touch of class all round.  I walk in and the very impressive guv'nor is quick to impose his personality on the situation, bit o' test n tracing, tries to get me outdoors but I've seen some green tiling I like and ask if I can sit in corner.  A bloke behind me answers first .... "okay then, as long you don't sing!" he tells me rather randomly.  This proved a bit rich coming from a guy who didn't button it the entire time I was there, even when you suspect the convivial landlord and the very smiley lady both would have welcomed it.  He once had breakfast with the Welsh rugby team ..... which was nice.  He couldn't have been more Fast Show.  Meanwhile I'd been presented with two grand laminated beer menus, one cask, one keg, not quite what you'd expect from a backstreet boozer perhaps but no doubting the commitment to beer in here.  In some ways, I was relieved to get a drink to 'sit in' with as the two word Google Maps description was 'Curbside Pickup'.  Unless this had a more sinister meaning.  Maybe David Pleat was in the area?   I had my own problems.  I 'missed' the Gents (not in a Newark way) but ended up walking into the smoking area, where a group of blokes laughed at me and showed me how I'd walked directly past the door and missed it!  Always in pubs like this I do that!   Oh, and bad thing about these verbal test n trace things, I now know the mobile number of a girl called Lucy.  I didn't memorise it, honest.  Really good pub this, gives me renewed Kentish hope.

So, this was all very simple wasn't it?  Mosey along to the three other Tonbridge GBG ticks, and all is hunky dory.  Right?  No way it was going to be that straightforward, this is BRAPA after all.  And we had a special twitter guest calling our name.  Find out about that in part 4 tomorrow.




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  2. All 3 of those were new in, and I liked all 3. The Goodstone one was really welcoming to us popping in for a drink, few old boys at the bar (remember that ?).

    The Greyhound was one of those "rescued" pubs that CAMRAs love. Again, it was just 3 Old Boys sitting at the bar ribbing the landlady.

    And the Nelson was a bit "beer menu" as you noted, but classy.

    And doggie casks ? Worse than tasters.

    1. you definitely got a luckier Greyhound experience than me, where now I look back, it all went wrong!

      I find it heartening these were all new and are fresh in your mind as recent visits .... not sure why cos normally I like to think I'm ticking off pubs which have been in the GBG 25 consecutive years!

  3. A pay at the end pub which is card only. This is undoubtedly a debt, so legal tender must be accepted to settle said debt. The ginger heroin would have to be very nice for me to not riot in that position. One day I will go to a pub like that and I can't see it ending well.

    Tunbridge Wells is indeed pronounced Tunbridge Wells. Terrifying place. Only positive is that one of the buffet cars at the preserved railway is called Emily.

    1. Heroin is ALWAYS bad for you, Tom. Even in Grimsby.

    2. And ginger heroin is the worst type of heroin, I hear.

      Tom, it won't be long before you need to be in a riotous state the way these 'pay at the end, card only' are popping up all over my South Eastern BRAPA. I hope I'm there when it happens for added blog material.

      Emily seems an unlikely name for a buffet car!

    3. I want a ginger heroin all of my very own.

      I'm going to have to read up on the law before I venture into a southern pub. The furthest south I have been since the lockup is March.

      Emily reference:
      BR MK1 ex BIG buffet car 'Emily' No. S69306 (In Service as Static Buffet BR(S) Green)

  4. "is that you can accidentally snooze your alarm for an hour"

    How the hell does one 'accidentally' snooze their alarm for that long? ;)

    "after a change at a place called 'Tonbridge'. "

    Paul will be on you in shot methinks. And my dearly departed grandparents (on my dearly departed Mom's side) lived not far away in Bat & Ball).

    "and hoped the neighbours in the cottage opposite weren't calling the police or informing the local neighbourhood watch ..."

    Couldn't really blame though if they did. :)

    "but I'm delighted to find myself balls-deep in plush, carpetted, beamed, low roofed pub "

    Got Colin down your pants again?

    "Or that could be my imagination."

    Ya think? For the record, I watched Postman Pat back in the day (late 80's) but never in my pyjamas. :)

    "and looks at it more lovingly than I've ever looked at Colin."

    No comment!

    "my first Kent pub tick since BRAPA officially began."


    "Kids n pubs, a losing combination. "

    Can't argue with that.

    "Then a wasp drowns in my Muggy Porter "

    What is it with wasps? I've been batting two away from my beer in my backyard every afternoon for over a week now!

    "til I remember I have bullocks"

    Bollocks! :)

    "Fuck me, if this is what Kentish pub ticking is all about, can I get out now?? "

    Tsk, tsk. One drop does not an ocean make.

    "They are pronouncing Tonbridge as 'Tunbridge', which seems confusing to me as Tunbridge Wells is only a few miles south"

    That's Royal Tunbridge Wells matey. And as for pronunciation; you lot with your Gloucester and Worcestershire and whatnot... sheesh!

    "Really good pub this, gives me renewed Kentish hope."

    There you go!

    (and love the Vargas pin-ups in one of the photos below)

    "Find out about that in part 4 tomorrow.

    Or a day or two longer as I still have to catch up with Martin and a few others first!


    1. well Russ, when I say 'snooze' I think I mean 'turn off' altogether!

      as I'll learn in the next part, Tonbridge is prime 'pubman' area.

      Postman Pat, love it, the old ones especially. Watch it with my Mum some Christmas times for old times, funny how every episode is weather themed! Rev Timms is my hero.

      Soon as I poured the wasp out and stood on it, two of its mates buzzed round my head. THEY KNOW YOU KNOW!

      Haha, and Grosvenor as Grovesnor always catches people out! Wuster. Glosster. Love it.

      Vargas? Didn't she play for Sunderland?

      Oh yes, don't rush the blog reading. I just need to catch up after yet another epic overnighter so am releasing them every day at the moment.

      Tek care bonny lad!

  5. Saw you getting off the train at Godstone; I was on the train going the other way, thanks to your recommendation, for The Garibaldi at Redhill - great pub. Was that Larkins Porter that you had in The Greyhound by any chance?

    1. Ooh a stalker. Anonymous too.

    2. Oh fantastic, thanks Unknown person! Really glad you enjoyed Garibaldi, did you sit outside or was it just as nice in? Thought staff were great. They were a bit sad I didn't rate Redhill a bit more highly, but you can't lie can you? Larkins rings a bell from some point in the day, but am so hazy, like a pint of craft beer, I cannot remember when. The porter in Greyhound was actually Muggy Porter by NorthDown which is in Margate apparently!

  6. Unknown person is Derek. Sat outside at The Garibaldi, no inside seating. They had a golden beer festival on fortuitously. Great pub, we'll be back. Also a fan of The Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath, and Fuggles Tonbridge, which I see you have got to.

  7. It sounds like you were unlucky Si, in the timing of your visit to the Greyhound, as normally you can't fault the place - apart from those beer-keg urinals, perhaps. Difficult to get your aim right, unless you almost straddle them - too much information!

    I can't say I'm that much of a regular visitor, even though the pub is under 15 minutes walk from my workplace. Not sure who the ginger-haired barmaid was, though.

    There's nothing worse than a yummy mummy with her hyped-up over-active kids, charging around all over the place, but normally the pub is very civilised.

    Sounds like the Nelson made up for things, even though one of the customers did have verbal diarrhea. Kentish Paul.