If you have read part 5, you'll be aware I was making good progress in Andover, three of the four 2020 GBG pubs done, and still only lunchtime. Hic! One more to go, this was it .......
It simplified mask wearing rules more than any pub I'd been to so far, putting Brunning & Price and their overly wordy blackboards to shame .......
The passage of time (twenty days since my visit) has helped me to realise I enjoyed the Angel, Andover (1879 / 3096) more than I admitted at the time. It fits perfectly into the category of Greene King pubs that are allowed to live and breathe, rather than the 'managed' stifling dining efforts I was more familiar with before I came to this part of the world. Weybourne's Running Stream, Holybourne's Queen's Head. This is a similar, perhaps more limited, ilk. The White Hart COULD have been like this, such a shame. It had character, a long corridor, and was spectacularly unfussy. Only one ale on, so my second pint of Tribute today. A tatty old guestbook needed signing, I wrote my phone number incorrectly, maybe the ale was kicking in, and try as I might, I couldn't make the '5' look like a '7' and the barman was staring strangely at me now so I gave up. My fellow drinkers were a largely silent bunch, though a couple behind me were treating themselves to lunch and Beery Prosecco (Stella?) and saying ''darling' a lot, had they meant to go to the Ivy and taken a wrong turn? A bloke clocks Colin and says "don't forget to feed him!" A gardener, obviously. Most people make jokes about eating him! Bit more staring at me on way back from loo, then I realised I was flying low. A woman excited an old gent with some intense staring. His poor dicky ticker. It was that sort of a pub.
|The Angel Annual Staring Competition 2020|
|Posh lunch going on behind me|
|Flying low on way back from gents (didn't realise til I was back in the bar)|
|This corridor felt sort of haunted!|
It had been such a successful morning, I thought I'd 'treat' myself to a taxi for pub five. On each BRAPA trip that involves overnight stops, I put in an 'emergency taxi fund' envelope, and I'd not used any yet. I had contemplated the three mile walk, as not too bad, but seeing so many taxis were at the station, it seemed the right thing to do, especially as the glorious sunshine had suddenly given way to the rains and winds of the previous day.
The bloke, like so many taxi drivers, didn't have a clue, but SatNav helped us, and when I asked him to wait half an hour, he said 'ring me when you are 10 mins away' so I did, hoping the village had a phone signal. Here it was looking a bit like a house ......
Eagle Inn, Abbotts Ann (1880 / 3097) was the name, and walking in it was immediately apparent this was a class above any other pub I'd visited so far today. A lady in the distance tapped away on a keyboard, headset on, video call, it was hard to know whether she worked for the pub or she'd decided to conduct her 'working from home' office job from the comfort of a pub (something I've been tempted to do, I cannot deny it). She kept saying things like 'project governance'. She looked annoyed as i peered over at her, like she was a strange creature. Can't think why. With no bar staff forthcoming, I made me around to the other 'locals' bar where the pool table, beer list and bogs were. I collided with a couple of locals, who might've been smoking outside, they told me they were 'naughty' (not sure why). I finally found the guv'nor, looking stern behind his mask, and he flogged me ale from Morecambe Cross Bay just for the northern giggles. Embarrassing cos just before he'd come round to bring me my pint, I'd farted - one of those silent but deadly ones borne out of this morning's woeful scrambled eggs plus Andover beer, and in the still atmosphere, I just couldn't waft it away. Hope the mask protected him. After an understandable trip to the vintage loos, a couple arrived. They were puffing and panting, looked sodden and bedraggled. "Been on a long walk?" I asked. "No, we just live two minutes down the road ..... and we even jumped in the car!" she added, a bit guiltily! Outrageous, and here was me feeling slightly guilty for not walking 3 plus miles! They were good company though, telling me about the perils of living in a thatched cottage, how spiders were the worst things ever, a local weather vane, horses trotting through the village in hi-vis, and she said how men are all stupid based solely on her husband. 'Charming!' I said, but she refused to back down. On that note, I remembered I had to ring taxi guy, but he was lurking outside anyway. Pub of the day this one, easily.
|My lovely spot in the window|
|Working from home?|
|Looking for an ale|
|Deliberate gorilla guerrilla style logo, or just a rusty stain? Things to contemplate at the loo.|
|Chatting with the lovely couple|
|Hi-vis horse activity most exciting thing to happen in the village since the 1985 scarecrow festival|
|Colin feeling the beer by now|
Next, I took a train back from Andover to Basingstoke, and with just one pub left today to complete the magic six, I walked due east to Old Basing, determined that after the late finishes on Saturday and Sunday, I could be settled down back in my Travelodge much earlier tonight.
As I set off walking, I didn't realise Old Basing was its own entity, and not just a suburb. I got so far, when the pavement suddenly ran out under a terrifying road bridge. I'd not have lived to tell the tale had I carried on, but fortunately I saw people walking up above, scrambled up a bank onto a public footpath. But then I had the problem of crossing a railway line, and had to walk a long way north before I found a way across. I came out onto the spectacularly named Swing Swang Lane. Basingstoke's Whip-ma-Whop-ma Gate. Eventually, another path alongside a river took me to this rather out of the way pub. Peak BRAPA this was .....
Sweaty, achey and red in the face, I stride into the pub, but a lady helping a twild with their homework in the corner shouts over in a cheery manner that they aren't open til 5pm! I check my watch, only just gone 4pm. I check my notes, yes, it DOES say 5pm Monday. BRAPA admin error. Bugger!
Oh well, despite the slightly inclement weather, sitting in the picturesque beer garden featuring the noisiest ducks in the world gives me a chance to cool down, and I ring my Mum for a long chat to help pass the time.....
|A duck, not my Mum|
|'Wadwoof'?! 'Doggy cask' always a danger sign in my experience of incoming shite pub|
|Hang on, are they the Abbotts Ann horses following me around?|
I gave them til 17:05 to 'get their house in order', but when I walked in to Bartons Mill, Old Basing (1881 / 3098) , a young Spanish couple with broken English were being encouraged to use the Wadworth App, something you could tell they weren't comfortable with, and eventually walked out. This caused two staff members to roll eyes at them and laugh, but I couldn't blame the customers. Even with my pubbing experience, the one bar of signal in this rural location made downloading the App, creating an account, and ordering the beer a laborious experience . They could've served me ten times in person whilst I was struggling with this. "You getting there?" she asks in a patronising way. I huffed and made sure they knew what an effort it was. Town Mills in Andover never even mentioned this App! Meanwhile, the 'check in desk' barmaid sat there, showing pictures of her new Corsa to anyone who was interested. And when the locals started rocking up, oh of course they get non-App table service. Utterly infuriating, and my pint of whatever Wadworth I chose (not 6X this time) wasn't particularly great. All in all, a lot of effort for very little reward. Boo! Poor effort.
|We're not amused|
At least I managed to pick up a bus (not literally) on Swing Swang Lane to make the journey back to Basingstoke that little bit easier.
Back in town nice and early, with a good bag of food and soft drinks bought from Tesco, back to Travelodge for some TV and was in bed for 9pm, all ready to go again on Tuesday morning. Six pubs the aim! Join me in part 7 tomorrow night for crazy tales of that one.
Cheers for reading, Si