We were on the home stretch. Three pubs left of the holiday, although at this stage, I had vague hopes of pushing myself for 8 or 9 pubs out in Hernia Bay, but that'd prove a step too far.
Today's chauffeur extraordinaire, Richard Pitcher had one more rural pub up his sleeve before he drove up to Derbyshire for some joyful East Mids pub fun. Derbyshire? Completed it mate. But I'll have to again. Several times.
You have to feel sorry for Chequers, Doddington (2413 / 3977). Any pub following the Shipwrights out in Hollowshore was going to feel anti-climactic. Imagine seeing ABBA at some big Euro music festival in Sweden 1976, and then in some strange running order mishap, Bachman Turner Overdrive follow them, and their first song isn't even You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet but Blue Moanin'. It was a sturdy village pub with plenty of history, 14th century or something crazy old, it had a Kentish dartboard (no double or trebles cos Kent people are notoriously bad at sums). It had a pleasingly deep pub garden. It had multi-levels. I was served a pint of that Shepherd's Neame Summer Storm IPA, the same beer I had in Boughton Monchelsea yesterday. It was better on this occasion, but like that pub, this wouldn't make the '23 GBG either. And the two woolly blokes next to us who admitted to be jealous of the BRAPA concept, starting chatting to us about places as varied as Brecon & Sheffield. Like I said, a much better pub than my brain was willing to give it credit for at the time.
In current GBG? I've just told you, cloth ears! The curse of the Summer Storm IPA!
Time to say farewell to Richard as he drops me back in Faversham. I'd have to go solo in my final two pubs.
He says I've inspired him to try and get a fully green Kent this year. Oooh, it is a slippery slope. That's how pub ticking starts. Firstly, it is 'where you live'. Then it is 'whole county'. Next thing you know, you are hopping on a ferry to Rousay with your silly mascot and a full bladder, weary of the world. And we will meet again. He is going to help me with some more rural mid/south Kent is the coming weeks / months.
Anyway, pub six of this epic day .....
Not only is it a particularly handsome pub from the outside, Elephant, Faversham (2414 / 3978) is a pearler within. I'd never have believed Shipwrights would be trumped today, but I think the Ele has the edge - reason being it is more of a living, breathing boozer, whereas Shipwrights was more a curio, a historic relic of a bygone age. Quality is apparent the second I walk through the door, and so enthused am I by my first impressions and bubbly hostess, I start telling her my history with Elgood's Black Dog. She looks at me half amused, like '... but Si, I didn't ask'. If you want to know my history with Elgood's Black Dog, ask me in person. Or I'll set up a patreon and you can pay for the privilege and then curse me for wasting your time and money. I plonk myself down on the flimsy but fabulous narrow purple benches and sup my mild. I'm drawn to the sight of a ginger cat next to a moody looking old bloke with a handle bar moustache. A man with no socks plonks himself between us and starts reading his Bob Mortimer book. We exchange nods, but the cat knows a 'cat person' and trots over and eventually falls asleep next to me. Handle bar man looks slightly put out, and not just because his favourite Southampton micro has closed down. A truly brilliant pub, I think it had outdoor loos and a nice little courtyard too.
In current GBG? Hell to the yeah!
I'd heard plenty of good things about today's final pub too, a Shepherd Neamer. Time to revive my old joke? What do you call a pint of Spitfire floating in the toilet bowl? Finding Shepherd Neamo.
Errrm yeah, time to go and explore....
But it was not to be a positive end to my six days in Kent at Bear Inn, Faverhsam (2415 / 3979) as I make the mistake of swinging an immediate right into the quiet front bar. I cannot tell exactly what ales are on, so I ask, and by gum, the barmaid is so RUDE. Which follows right through into paying for my drink. Sadly, I can't remember the exact exchange as this is pint seven but I remember the one lady customer sat at the bar clocking my 'cheek blowing out, raised eyebrows' expression of disgust, and throwing me an amused glance! 'Not staying in here' I whisper, and take my (pretty damn poor) pint of Shitstable Bay down this gorgeous creaking long thin wooden corridor, where a series of entrances also to the right take you into a large backroom. This is where the action is, a busy vibrant youthful scene greets me and I plonk myself and my dishwatery pint down on one of the few free tables. Not bad for 5pm on a Thursday, work chucking out time maybe. Pubs ain't dead yet. As I glance barwards, the staff in here are all young, attractive, fresh faced, smiley and plenty of warm exchanges with the customers are taking place. I bet the Spitfire was drinking well too. A real case of 'what might have been' but if there is one thing I can't condone, even above poor beer, it is rude staff, even if it just one bad apple.
In current GBG? It is, and I wasn't even surprised.
So, as you can see, 'difficult Kent' was greening up nicely as I took the train back to Sittingbourne for a relaxing final night.
Of course, the new 2023 GBG has kept absolutely every pub I hadn't greened in this section, whilst removing plenty I'd visited this holiday - but decent progress, and my aim is a fully green Kent by September 2023. Just booked next year's holidays with work, and I'm pleased to say, they are once again plentiful.
See you on Sunday where I'm going to tell you about the day I walked 50K steps in north Gwent in ONE DAY and absolutely ruined myself!