Halfway through my South Essex debut (unless you count previous trips to Chelmsford, Billericay, Southminster & Burnham-on-Crouch .... I'm not really sure on the geog.) and it was all going well. I'd basked in the Leigh-on-Sea bonhomie, and been captivated by clubby comfort in South Benfleet as I wound my merry little way south towards London, time still on my side.
Three more pubs was the aim!
I jumped off the train at a place called Stanford-le-Hope, where a friend of mine had live for a while, calling it Stanford-no-Hope. I wonder if this was a reflection on the pub here, though I noticed the GBG describes it as 'much improved'.
Being the wrong side of a concrete wall wasn't a great start ......
Too high to hurdle, so I had to keep following the wall round, wait until it ended, and walk back on myself. Flippin' eck Stanford, I don't need this!
Take two, here we go ......
Rising Sun, Stanford-le-Hope (1856 / 3073) offered the classic 'left or right' room choice, and although 'BRAPA law' states you have to try and turn left, Covid rules told me the 'visitor check in' was to the right. This involved the most liquidy hand sanitiser in over 100 BRAPA pubs combined with the tiniest slivers of paper to write your name and number on. Result, a slippy sticky sliver of paper with blotched biro. Finally, a jolly lady rears her Essex shaped head from the adjoining doorway, and with the news that the local infestation in the left hand room was absolute, I had to sit in the quiet right room with a couple who I hoped would do/say something interesting for blog purposes, but weren't up to the challenge. For this was the problem here, the pub had 'something' in terms of character and old fashioned atmosphere (almost like a less heritagey Old Green Tree in Bath), small, slim, square, wooden and dark green, but ultimately, I felt a bit bored. The Billericay Blonde ale didn't really hit the spot, and a trip to the loo in the left side felt like a segment in the 'let's looks at what you could've won' category, with lots of old Essex coves in tight shorts going "woooorr", "wheeeyyy", "oooooh" and "whatcheor matey".
|You see, very pleasant but just needs a bit of life|
|Now if you could both juggle, or tell a rude story, that'd help greatly|
|Colin uses the local beermats to stay warm|
I'm always happier on any given trip if I've made the effort to get to at least one pub off the beaten track, so I decided to walk the half hour or so to the village of Horndon-on-the-Hill where we had a valuable tick to do.
It didn't take long for Stanford-le-Hope to open up into farmlands and little wooded areas with twittering birds and scurrying creatures, and it was all very pleasant in the sunshine. The pub finally came into view, Bette Midler style, from a distance ......
|Are we there yet?|
|"At a rope, at a rope, got me waiting at a rope" |
|See top right|
|Chippy sums up my mood|
|Look, even the table cleaner is trying to join in the theme .... bless!|
|Best snacks ever!|
|Trad Irish crisps, trad Irish mascot|