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 .....
|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.