Wednesday 21 March 2018

The Lions of Southwick Part 1 - Golden Lion

So who, or what, are the lions of Southwick?  Could it be Churchill and Eisenhower who met here to discuss D-day strategy in World War II?...

Yes...people of Britain...let’s......

Fish Sandwich and Condiment?...

Another day in the hazardous but relentless search for another new pub for the 2019 Good Beer Guide tickers...


.....brings me to The Drift Inn, in the New Forest National Park.
Drift Inn

In Essex a ‘drift’ is something you do in your Nissan Skyline, but in the New Forest it is a periodic round up of the four legged occupants......


The Drift Inn is about halfway between Lyndhurst and Beaulieu and is owned by the adjoining Beaulieu Road Hotel.  Beaulieu Road railway station stands behind the pub - still in use on the London commuter line from Waterloo to Weymouth - but as quiet as it ever was in it’s remote location.  The station was intended to serve both Lyndhurst and Beaulieu but is not particularly near to either...
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Remote - Beaulieu Road Station - for Lyndhurst and Beaulieu

The car therefore seemed the best form of transport to get us there for a pint and a lunchtime sandwich, and as this was a 'dog friendly' pub we thought we’d test that out by taking a giant one....our Leonberger, Henry....

Henry - giant sized toddler entertainment - arrives at the Drift Inn...

On the way in, Henry attracted the attention of an old chap at the bar who joked that whilst it was a dog friendly pub, he didn’t think that included horses.

We know he was joking because he gave him a couple of dog biscuits from the bar rather than a handful of hay...

We found a quiet table in the corner near the fireplace and ordered a sandwich from the menu (sausage and red onion jam for Mrs GH, and homemade fish finger for me).
The real ale on offer was Ringwood Best or Cotleigh Barn Owl and once again I ‘drifted’ towards the guest ale and ordered a pint of Barn Owl.
Chain drinker lines ‘em up - replacement Ringwood Best with Barn Owl in the background.

I had a sip - winced - and checked the glass carefully for any ‘Sarsons Malt Vinegar’ branding.....

...Nope - definitely a (really poor) Barn Owl, a real ale that had long ago converted itself into a condiment - totally undrinkable.

I should have taken it back and complained but I didn’t....opting for the more subtle approach of leaving the ‘dead' Barn Owl on the table and going straight back to the bar for a pint of Ringwood Best.

The subtlety was completely lost on the bar staff....who presumably thought I was thirsty.... or lining ‘em up for a bit of a session....
Ringwood Best - by a very large margin....

Second time lucky...thankfully the Ringwood Best was good....

.....and the fish finger sandwich was particularly good with a dash of condiment... aka Cotleigh Barn Owl vinegar.
Flag stone floors, trendy boots and puffa jackets - rural tranquility at the bar before the storm of pre-school mums and toddlers...

The pub was quiet at first, but as it was half term week it soon started to resemble a busy day at the local pre-school nursery.  Mums arriving with their toddlers in a desperate bid to get them out of the house and find something to distract them.

Cue Henry - toddler teddy bear magnet.  He was bigger than most of the kids - but there was still a steady stream of them lining up for a pat of the big ’teddy bear’.
Well better keep looking for that prospective 2019 GBG entry... don’t think I found it today - unless the Drift Inn management works out that it needs to check its real ales are still drinkable before serving them to it’s customers,,,,

Woolly Pheasants and Wooden Spoons

An interesting combination by anyones standards but both part of the decor at The Wooden Spoon in Downton, Wiltshire....and before you ask - no - Downton doesn’t have an Abbey...


All Country Life...

Netley Marsh, not quite in the New Forest National Park, is a small hamlet along the fairly busy A336.  It narrowly escapes the creeping residential sprawl of nearby Totton, but still manages to retain its rural charm, thanks mainly to its attractive church, surrounding pastures and a Polish hand car wash (ok maybe not the last one).
Netley Marsh church

Big Big Day


Another slight throwback post, this time to last October and one of my rare visits to the Metropolis, when my friend David and I went to see top prog rock band Big Big Train 🚂.....

Tuesday 20 March 2018

What’s Lover Got To Do With It...?

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Slightly mis-appropriated words from gravel-voiced glam gran, Tina Turner, but on an early February outing to Redlynch in Wiltshire, Valentine’s Day looming and millions of flowers destined to wilt on supermarket shelves, just what has Lover got to do with it?

Faith and Hope in Stoke Charity

Best little pub in Hampshire - it’s official

When a man from Cumbria takes on a neglected pub in a small village in Hampshire he would no doubt need a great detail of faith and hope that his endeavour would bear fruit.

Going To The Ebenezer(s)

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Well no point in using 'Ebenezer Goode’ by the Shamen as a title as Life after Football has recently bagged that one.  However the history of this small pub in Hythe, Hampshire, really provides its own useful title.......

Summoned By Bells

Front door bells......triple sound

At six o’clock from Bourton-on-the-Hill
The bells rang out above the clumps of oak;
A lighter peal from Longborough lingered on;
Moreton-in-Marsh came echoing from the vale...
So gently broke the triple waves of sound
On a still evening of enormous light
That, when they ceased, I almost seemed to hear
From open church-doors village voluntaries
A mile and more away.

from Summoned by Bells - John Betjeman

I couldn’t resist this title, and a bit more Betjeman, prompted by a visit to Tim’s real ale palace, The Six Bells, in the upmarket coastal town of Lymington, Hampshire.
(Warning: the photos in this post are (un)intentionally blurred - do not adjust your devices, or contact your optician....)

Weighing (The) Anchor

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Mrs GH and I popped out for a quick early evening drink to The Anchor Inn in the nearby village of Eling on Southampton Water, which was a nice change from the four walls of the hermitage.

Thursday 15 March 2018

A Friend Like Ben...


No - not the ballad by the diminutive Michael Jackson (which was a blot on my music landscape when I was a youth), but here’s something a bit more highbrow...

Tobacco, nectar, or the Thespian spring,
Are all but Luther's beer to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooley, or Parrot by,
Nor shall our cups make any guilty men;
But, at our parting we will be as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board,
Shall make us sad next morning or affright
The liberty that we’ll enjoy tonight.

from ‘Inviting a Friend to Supper’ by Ben Jonson.

They Don’t Like It...

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Running Horse, Littleton (image courtesy of Google maps street view)

...up’em, said Corporal Jones in famous sitcom Dad’s Army (referring to fuzzie-wuzzies of course), but the subject of this post, Upham Brewery’s Running Horse, is quite the opposite - really a case of what is there not to like?
(Phew - I think I just about survived that tenuous title link).

Life’s a Beach (House)...

I think this photo has a kind of surreal feel to it, like something out of the film Fantasia. It’s as if the bench seats are marching down to the sea.  Probably just me being weird again...

In no particular chronological order I thought I'd do a post on this previous visit to The Beach House at Milford on Sea.  It was a beautiful autumn day when Mrs GH and I had a pleasant Saturday lunchtime drive through the New Forest, now quiet again after the tourist season, to this Hall and Woodhouse pub.

Pontefract - The Cobbler

The light and dangling liquorice flowers
Gave off the sweetest smells;
From various black Victorian towers
The Sunday evening bells
Came pealing over dales and hills
And tanneries and silent mills
And lowly streets where country stops
And little shuttered corner shops.
from The Licorice Fields at Pontefract by John Betjeman


Though I’m nearing the end of my 6th decade I’ve never been to Pontefract before, even though I’m South Yorkshire born and bred. However as my oldest son Andy and his partner Leah have recently set up home there, it was time for Mrs GH and I to head off ‘oop north’ for an epic day visit.

Tryanuary at the Waterloo Arms

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Waterloo Arms - courtesy of Google Maps street view (as I forgot to take an outside view)

What better on an early Tryanuary Saturday lunch time than a visit to one of Hopback Brewery's finest pubs, the Waterloo Arms in Southampton.

I have only been to this long-time Hopback Brewery pub once before a couple of years ago even though it's quite near to where I live.  A lovely quiet pub with traditional decor and pub games (darts board - with electronic scorer for the mathematically challenged, and sets of dominoes and cribbage boards n'all).  It has just one main room wrapping around the bar in an 'L' shape, and a conservatory for functions/families and stuff and a rear garden (too cold to go out there today).
On this occasion I was accompanied by my son Martin.  We were dropped off (courtesy of Mrs GH) at the opening hour (12:00) and were waiting in an orderly (almost nonchalant fashion) outside when the door was unlocked.  First in!
Decision time - where to sit in an empty pub - managed that one without too much difficulty choosing a proper upholstered fixed bench seat next to the fire place, with a good view of the bar (in fact most of the pub really).  Next challenge - choosing a beer from the bar full of handpulls and pump clips (great isn't it? ).

Some of the handpulls/pump clips on the bar (no I don't have a selection of wallets - they belonged to the customers sat at the bar)

Exercising caution we opted for the 'beer festival taster' approach and went for a half pints.  Charnwood Salvation (3.8%) for Martin and a half of Titanic's multi award winning Plum Porter (4.9%) for me.  Martin seemed happy enough with the Salvation and the Plum Porter was very good.
For the next round Martin decided to have 2 halves (very considerately to save my legs in walking to the bar too many times) - Hopback GFB (3.5%) and Crop Circle (4.2%).  I took a similar 'leg-saving' approach but opted for a pint of Brewsters' Winter Draws On (4%), despite the play on words illustrated on the pump clip which made me blush (you might be able to make it out in the blurry photo above but I'll leave you to look it up on Brewsters website - it's whimsic-ale by the way not sexist).  An absolutely beautiful pint nonetheless (very good).
Winter Draws On - a thing of beauty!

No hot food at the Waterloo Arms this Saturday lunchtime and we expected that - though we were informed at the bar that hot food would be starting from tomorrow.  Not dismayed at being a day too early, we ordered a simple but tasty chicken and bacon sandwich each and a jumbo sausage roll to share (yes we certainly know how to lunch on Saturdays).
By this time we had been joined by two or three regulars - seated at the bar and a couple with a what looked like a labradoodle or some such dog.  Quaintly the man had a small tin cup hanging from his rucksack, and though we expected him to ask for a half of real ale when he handed it to the bar staff, he confounded us by asking for it to be filled with water for the pooch.
For our final flourish at the bar we returned to half pints,  Hopback Summer Lightening (5%) for Martin, a Hydes Victorian Winter Warmer (7%) for me and a Downton New Forest Ale (3.8%) (good) for both of us.  A friendly fellow customer at the bar endorsed the Summer Lightening choice whole heartedly, which was nice.
Just a half for me...  Martin almost succeeds in deftly hiding his half of New Forest Ale behind his half of Summer Lightening.

The Victorian Winter Warmer was good and a pretty effective warmer at 7% abv.  It is billed as a porter style beer seemed more like a Belgian dubbel style to me with sweet rich toffee malt flavours and alcohol leading the way.
A very enjoyable lunchtime in a pub, it really can't get much better than this.
The Waterloo Arms, in my opinion, will never disappoint with it's good old pubby character, friendly service (I even felt good about being told that they didn't do CAMRA discounts when I asked) and a marvellous variety of quality beers.

GH at the Poet & Hack


Oh no!  Not another pub blog you cry!  Oh yes I say, and it's all the fault of established pub bloggers like Retired Martin, Life After Football and BRAPA, for it is reading their excellent blogs (and a few others) that has got me started.