Canterbury had done me pretty well on this most difficult of State Funeral ticking days. Three pubs down, one to go. I'd had to hang around until 17:30 opening, which hadn't been ideal, but at least they'd been clear about their intentions on Facebook, which was a helluva lot better than most.
It appeared in the late afternoon sun, twinkling up at me with a cheeky air of menace about it.
|Have you ever seen anything more cheeky menacing?|
I'm one of the first customer's inside the New Inn, Canterbury (2396 / 3960). On first glance, it is very much a basic, locals boozer like the Eight Bells, but it is immediately apparent that it has a lot more depth - and I don't just mean literally. It snakes all the way back to a light conservatory where the loos are, but for the most part, it is pure pub theatre. A barman serves me a hazy but very pleasant Arbor Shangri-La, the kind of thing you see in York Tap. I take it to a seat by the front so I have a good vantage point of any occurrences. The good thing about occurrences is that they have a good chance of occurring. It isn't long before the 'characters' start rolling in, and it is only because this is my 5th pint of the day that my recollections are hazier than the Arbor. Patrick is the first to stamp his personality on proceedings, a sort of richly drawn Harry Enfield posho stuck in a different era. He is upset that the Guinness isn't on. He's recommended a beer I really liked up in Droylsden called 'Stout Detectives'. "Tastes a bit medieval, like me!" he comments, tying in with my assessment of him. A young lady who can't be much older than 25 walks in. She complains about her current working hours , orders a pint of St Austell Tribute and sups it off on a nearby table. I've never seen the like! And craziest of all, this lady who sat on the end. Sadly, I made no notes and had already done my Twitter check in at this point but she was a really impressive, highly intelligent but terrifying individual. Colin had to return to his bag for fear of being seen or we'd never have got away, let us just put it like that, a real rarity. But what a smashing pub.
|Shhh Colin, hide!|
|It could've actually have been the Surrey Hills Collusion but I don't think so|
|Oooh, those bar towels will be collectors items soon|
At this stage in the day, my thought was that if I could take six ticks from a day like this, that'd be quite the achievement.
So it was back to the North Kent coast to see if I could eke two more out.
|"Two more, we only want two more, so go on BRAPA score"|
That photo was taken from an underpass just outside Faversham station. It smelt of wee. But on the whole, I'd find Faversham one of the more salubrious places I've visited in Kent to date.
Faversham had 4 GBG ticks. Shipwrights was way too far out to try tonight. The Elephant looked unlikely. But I had high hopes for the other two.
The Bear had mentioned on Facebook (another nicely 'transparent' pub effort) that they were opening at 2pm, and remain open depending on 'demand'. That gave me cause for optimism. But as I approached, it was very much shut. Boo.
Thankfully, the pub which I'd rated as 'most likely' was open .....
A narrow, wooden, vaguely nautical scene of bonhomie greets me at Furlongs Ale House, Faversham (2397 / 3961) and I'm wondering if this is where all the Bear's customers have shifted to, because I don't believe people think "oh, Queen funeral, let's curtail our drinking out of respect" though I guess they might be remembering they have work in the morning. A confusing 'pumps hidden behind the bar, and behind a screen' set up has me sweating like an imp, but the lady is nice, and the Iron Pier Old Ale, like all Iron Pier ales I've tried so far, is a thing of perfection. I climb up a weirdly raised bit to sit on a weirdly raised bench, a bit like being in York Crown Court, and eventually, the couple to my left, Luke & Lorraine, spy my battered GBG and comment "that looks serious" and so a BRAPA chat commences. They are well travelled across the UK, and soon we are chatting on pubs of Derbyshire, Cumbria and another county we both know but which is too inconsequential to remember, so I'm thinking Beds or Bucks. I tell me them about my quest for one more pub tonight to get up to six, and they give me renewed hope that the Elephant WILL be open ... "And if it isn't...." comments Lorraine, " it is a lovely pub to look at from the outside". Errrm, not sure that'll be much consolation but cheers!
But as I said, not much consolation. Unless I change my rules so that the tick counts if you've viewed it from the outside? But no, I'm not the Red Lioness. Ooops, did I say that out loud?
Faversham, you really need to be more Canterbury. Fav would make it up to me on the Thursday, but that was a long way off as I trudged back through piss alley to the station.
But I wasn't giving up on this sixth pub, even if it did mean heading even further west at what was becoming quite a late hour, so now I even had 'early last orders' to contend with!
Whitstable was the next stop out west, and my morning research hadn't been conclusive but Ship Centurion looked a decent possibility. Twelve Taps less so. Failing this, Herne Bay. The pressure was on and it was with a great deal of trepidation I rounded that last corner.
But lights were on, it looked very open, and it wasn't quite 9pm .....
And with plenty of folk within, I didn't hesitate as mine beret-clad host (I thought they were more French, but the pub flag was German, so who knows) serves me a London Pride - it just felt right for that time of night. I nearly went Adnams Southwold but the Goachers Fine Light and Hophead were never in my thoughts. Ship Centurion, Whitstable (2398 / 3962) surprised me further by not being a micropub. Had I just assumed by this point that every pub on the Kent coast was a micro? Is that an unreasonable assumption? Ok, so it had board games but it also had a nice juicy understated carpet of good shag (9/10), plenty of plush seating and was just generally, spectacularly unfussy. The crowd were quite 'eclectic', one minute Deftones are the flavour of the month, then it is Barry White serenading his goat. In all my jubilation, I jubilantly pluck my GBG from my bag rather too jubilantly, and the cover comes clean off .... well, it was hanging by a thread anyway, and we aren't long til the new GBG (he keeps saying!) so it was no great loss. The main thing was six ticks achieved on a most difficult day.
And there we have it, back to Sittingbourne for snacks and bed. Back to some kind of normality tomorrow on the Tuesday .... buses running, pubs opening when they should, bliss.
See you on Thursday most probably for that one (unless the GBG plops onto my doormat tomorrow morning, we can dream).
A young lady no older than 25 ordered a pint of real ale ? Is this the crime you're doing jury service for ?ReplyDelete
I'm pleased to hear that the New Inn and Furlongs were to your liking, Simon. It's years since I last set foot inside the Elephant, but if you've got the time, it's well worth taking a walk out to the Shipwright's Arms - only in daylight, though.ReplyDelete