Wednesday 21 February 2024

...Back For Another Pint At A Wierd Weatherspoons

Quiet stillness...St Thomas' graveyard, Lymington.

In the quiet stillness of the graveyard of my long past blogs, rests one entitled 'Summoned By Bells',  an epitaph to my fist visit to JDW's 'The Six Bells, Lymington, SO41 9ND back in March 2018.

In it,  I focussed mainly on cheap beer,  the name of the pub being linked to an old pub on the site and the beer drinking bell ringers from St Thomas' church next door., and... oh yes, virtually all my photos were out of focus.

On a more recent visit with my son, Martin, I realised that there was still some interesting, if not downright wierd, stuff about this pub that I had missed last time, and so here we go again...

google maps

The more recent history of The Six Bells premises is that it was an old home furnishing and linen store, a local family enterprise, which traded on the site for 150 years, as C. Ford & Co.  It is situated at the top of Lymington High Street.  

 The old shop front lettering is now displayed inside the pub...

Still on display, the name for household furnishing in Lymington for 150 years.

A photo frame inside the pub records what happened next....

The slightly bizarre tale of a furniture shop a nutshell, it was purchased in 1997 by two blokes,  Terry and Geoff.  They sold gifts and similar household stuff to C. Ford & Co. , and even left the old shopfront name in place.  

Their claim to fame according to the newspaper article shown in the above photo, was that it was Britain's rudest shop, with the owners 'putting straight' any customers who didn't behave well in the shop.  For example: 'if you can't leave those books tidy, then leave them alone'.

When Terry and Geoff decided to call it a day, they sold to JDW, and the story hit the national media (just google 'Britains Rudest Shop').  In their last few weeks of trading they put a sign in the window which said:  

'Britain's Rudest Shop is Closing Down

After 170 years only a few weeks left to be insulted, don't miss the experience!!'

...and when it closed, a new sign took it's place...

'**** OFF!


It should be said however that the insults were (mainly) delivered, and received, in good humour.

How to follow a story like that?  

 Well I suppose I'd better ask for a pint of cask...

Just ask for any of these 3 top cask ales...

....I was tempted by the three headliners (and the Ruddles Best), but in the end opted for a Goddard's Wight Squirrel 4.3% ...

Price rises may have occurred since this photo was taken

  ...a rich, russet colour, not unlike the island's red (not white) squirrels it refers to.  Definitely a NBSS 3.

Russet - just like an Isle of Wight squirrel

Spurning the cask, like an insulted furniture store customer, Martin had some some craft and foreign beers...


...but we buried our differences and shared the crisps...

Two flavour crisps - made for sharing

The other slightly wierd thing in this pub, is on the first floor balcony area, where a set of mirrors are placed to give an kaleidoscopic view of St Thomas' church next door.

St Thomas - creatively reflected.

The rudest shop back story of The Six Bells must be one of the quirkiest for  a Weatherspoons pub...

 ....and all the photos are in focus this time, win-win!

There goes the bell, drink up!

Thursday 1 February 2024

...Up The Masthead In The Bosun's Chair

 Well I did once, when I was a lad.  If I recall correctly, it was at one of those sailing regatta events, on the Hamble River.   I was invited to the event by a guy who I used to sail with - if you can call it sailing  (bear with me there's a tenuous link here somewhere).

He had a fast racing dingy called a Merlin Rocket, and was desperate for a crew.  I was the only volunteer,  I might have even been press-ganged. 

Ahoy, me hearties...

Our sailing sessions usually ended abruptly with a capsized dinghy and both of us swimming in Southampton Water.  Usually it was my fault because I wasn't fast enough to get from one side of the dinghy to the other and balance it, when he changed direction ('tacking' - I believe is the nautical term).  

Anyhow, enough of my short, and very wet, sailing career.  

The Bosun's Chair, Lymington SO41 3BA, in this case is (fortunately) a pub, not a flimsey fabric seat in which you're hauled to the top of a yacht's mast, to admire the view, with your legs trembling.

Bosun's Chair - old coaching house (and sailor's rest?)

The pub is in the old quay area of Lymington which positively oozes naval history (as well as estuarial mud).  Historically Lymington was a haven for smugglers, but was less popular with the French, who attacked and burned the town three times, in the 14th and 16th centuries.

Today, the quay is quieter and no longer under threat from French pyromaniacs.  Sailing types loiter, and daytrippers wander the narrow streets...

Smuggler-free zone

 ...where pretty fisherman's cottages jostle for position.

Cottages jostling....

The Bosun’s Chair is a Wadworth pub and must have, at one time, been a cosy multiroomed establishment, but now, as is the fashion, is mainly one open space decorated in a contempory style, which gives the impression that the pub industry has been invaded by kitchen designers...

Kitchen styled...

Despite this, it is a pleasant pub, which still retains some semblance of cosy-ness.  Needless to say there are plenty of decorative nautical references (but you've probably had enough of those already in this post).

On the bar is a trio of cask Wadworth beers...

Wadworth's finest...

The Henry’s IPA 3.6%, is a pleasant session beer although, with such a modest abv, it is never going to make the BJCP standard for an IPA in a month of Sundays.  The artistically branded glass makes up for it...

Artistic script

...and it is a very drinkable - NBSS 2

In the back yard, there is a large canopy which I guess could be 'sail'-like in keeping with a nautical theme, though I couldn't help thinking it looked like a Bedouin tent.  Very practical though, and it will keep you dry in the coastal mists and rain.

Beer tent

As I left the pub I wandered down the street to admire the impressive railway station (built 1860), while my son, Martin made a detour to the pub toilet.  

Lymington Town station

Martin emerged from the pub and looked about for me. I yelled at him from down the street...

... but it was the landlord (who had followed him out) who spotted me first, and helpfully pointed Martin in the right direction.  Now that's looking after your customers…

The End...

Wednesday 24 January 2024

..Boutique at Butcombe

 I was surprised to come across a Butcombe pub in Hampshire, as I thought they were confined to the west country...

photo from 'Whatpub website'

...but having subsequently checked their website, it seems there are actually five in the county.

 The Mayflower, Lymington, SO41 3QD, is a large pub with tudor style frontage and tall, ornate and seemingly top-heavy chimneys.  At first glance it has the appearance of an 'estate pub', but on their website Butcombe refer to their pubs as 'boutique inns'.  The same term does not appear on the web page they have dedicated to the Mayflower, where it is a 'traditional pub'.  Split personality then...?

The inside is generally one or two large open spaces and certainly it has a dining pub feel, with the large bar area just having two stools for bar drinkers.  It is situated close by Lymington Yacht Club and marina-land, so is probably more 'boutique' than 'traditional' - pitched at the Helly Hanson and Musto clad owners of the gleaming white slabs of white fibreglass, bobbing on the Lymington River.

 Today I was on a wander of Lymington hostelries with my youngest son Martin, and starting with the Mayflower at lunchtime, we also planned to have a bite to eat. 
First up a beer.  There was a selection of Butcombe beers on cask (ok - two actually and one duplicate?)*. 

   I choose the Original 4%., which was mean Good.

The 'original' Butcombe beer

We sat next to one of the front windows, giving us a nice view of Lymington's expensive suburbia in various pastel shades.    

Shades of blue and white...

The pub was quite empty on this Saturday lunchtime, and there seemed to be more staff than customers eying us attentively, in their black work uniforms, which perhaps seemed to have an unfortunate resemblance to vultures eyeing their (potential) prey (or perhaps it was just my imagination).


 So we ordered a 'light' lunch as the prices were a tad on the expensive side as might be expected for the location and target clientele.

Brixham Fish Finger Bun and Salt and Pepper Calamari

So we paid up our tab and left the still quiet pub.

A little later on, I had another look at the bill/receipt I had received, which I was surprised to note included a 'voluntary' service charge that had been automatically added to the bill and left for me to discover.  

Serves me right for not checking my bill carefully enough when paying.  Call me old fashioned, but isn't that an interesting interpretation on the meaning of 'voluntary' at Butcombe pubs then? 

If a service charge is part of the bill then fine, but surely it is not voluntary unless I decide whether it's added to the bill, rather than have to ask for it to be taken off?  

Perhaps it's de rigueur amongst the sailing classes?

* The Mayflower entry on Whatpub tells us that 'in some Butcombe pubs [one of their keg beers] is being sold from behind a handpump complete with handpump style pump-clip; this is not real ale or cask beer.'

Friday 19 January 2024

...Gatecrashing At The Travellers Rest


It's Friday...



The Travs

 ...and I know all of you of a certain age will have minds conditioned to respond with....'s five to five, and it's CRACKERJACK!*

But I digress (already)...

On this particular Friday, as five to five approached, it was Mrs GH's private tutor session (for a school pupil) that was about begin, focussing my mind on an escape plan (otherwise known as 'getting out of the way') that involved a quick walk down to the local,  The Travellers Rest, Hythe, SO45 3ND.

At just after 5pm I'm in the pub, and to my surprise, instead of the usual status quo - a hushed stillness, and a small number of late Friday afternoon drinkers, I am confronted by the deafening noise of a pub full of people in animated conversation.

Post-work banter on a large scale...

Undetererred, I weave slowly through the crowd, exploiting half a gap between the defenders to reach the bar, interrupting several conversations mid-flow on the way.

It's the 'usual' on cask, Fullers London Pride, so I shout to the landlord that I'd like a pint, reach over to tappy the card machine and then look for an empty space and the easiest route to get to it.  

I sit at an empty table and there are a few, as many people are standing in preference to sitting. 


Still wondering what it is that has brought so many people into the quiet country pub at this time, I ponder a few options...

Has 'Happy Hour' suddenly become massively popular? 

Is it a pre-match crowd for the Saints (hmmm, they'd need a boat to get across Southampton Water to St Marys).

Perhaps the audience for a band on later at the pub?

A walking expedition that has got lost on the England Coast Path (which goes right past the pub)?

To the coast...

No obvious clues, though the crowd is mainly men, with a few women, definitely not husbands and wives, partners etc.


Anyway the Pride is Good

Fullers London Pride (not Hogs Back) - lashings of lacings.

I sit there feeling increasingly like a gatecrasher at a party, which wasn't far off the mark as it happened.  Luckily Sky is on to provide a distraction and it's the Transfer Show.  The sound is off, although with the noise of the crowd, I wouldn't have been able to hear it even if it was on.  Instead I just read the scrolling text to catch up on the peripatetic developments of footballers.


Transfer Show on TV and tables which give the false impression that the pub is empty.



Jurgen Klopp appears on screen but I can't lip read what he is saying. It's probably something meaningful like "it's a game of two halves", or "Kick the ball into the goal, they put it back" (or was that last one Genesis?)

Then suddenly all is revealed, about the pub crowd, not Jurgen's comments.  It's a leaving do, and someone starts a speech in honour of John, for whom the full time whistle has blown after 30 years at Exxon (who have a whacking great refinery just down the road).  So I sit and listen, as the history of John's career, mainly the bits which would not appear on his CV, are exposed, and jeered and cheered by the crowd.  

A presentation followed, and then animated conversations resumed.


I couldn't help thinking that I should have known that so much loud conversation was most likely to be 'workplace generated'.  In fact I also wondered whether it has occurred to Exxon that the expelled hot air might be captured and used as an alternative to fossil fuel for the future.  Just a thought...

My London Pride had shamelessly reached the bottom of the glass and so I slipped out through the crowd and, ears still ringing, went home for a bit of peace and quiet and some tea.

*The 1964 - 68 classic series with Leslie Crowther, not the 2020 revived Crackerjack which aired at the wrong time (6pm).

Or if you prefer, the poem version....


Gatecrasher At The Travellers Rest


Escape, before the tutor can begin

Down dark alley to the local inn

The bar is loud with talking sound

Full of drinkers who offer round

Their knowledge and experience

Like housewives at the garden fence

Who know a thing or two.


Where's the afternoon quiet of the bar?

Is the Travellers Rest where we are?

Has the post-work happy hour?

Delivered so much people power?

I sit alone amongst the throng

Feeling that I don't belong

Amongst this verbal stew.


On Sky TV the Transfer Show

Is in the know, where players go.

Jurgen Klopp is on the screen 

Lips moving, but not heard, just seen

I watch and drink my London Pride

It's Good, based on the scoring guide

Of CAMRA, the real ale crew.

'Speech' cries someone in the crowd

All attention now and quiet, not loud

A tribute to John, and everyone cheers,

He's refined at Exxon for 30 years.

And now his final whistle's blown

And then I think, I should have known

This was a workmates leaving do.