Showing posts with label Historical pubs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Historical pubs. Show all posts

Sunday 26 July 2015

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon ...

The other day we were keen to go exploring, but the weather didn't look great and, having got a good soaking on our supposedly rain-proof trip to the Levant Mine in Cornwall, we wanted to play things safe and not stray too far from home. So we decided to mosey on down the road to the pretty little village of Sticklepath, not far from Okehampton in Devon.

My father's grandfather (my great grandfather) was a blacksmith back in Ireland, so my father was interested to see the last working water-powered forge in England. And it proved to be a thing of wonder, which was way above and beyond anything that my ancestor ever operated.

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Corfe Castle and the Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset

Yesterday I wrote a post about the very lovely Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck. If you haven't read it you can read it here: Corfe Castle and Lady Mary's Last Stand

If you happen to visit Corfe I have the perfect place to go afterwards for a spot of lunch: the Scott Arms in Kingston, up on the hill overlooking the castle.

The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset
The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset

I am a great fan of the traditional English pub, where the food is honest and wholesome, the menu is unpretentious, the staff are friendly, and dogs and children are not just tolerated, but are positively welcomed. It's a great institution that has, for centuries, been at the very heart of our national life. And the Scott Arms is a great pub in that great tradition.

One of the very best things about it is the view from the terraced garden out the back.

View from the Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset
View from the Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset

Isn't that a magnificent outlook to enjoy whilst you down a glass of cider?

And speaking of cider there aren't many food miles involved in getting a glass of the good stuff to this particular watering hole. It's made just down the road, and it's delicious.

Joe's cider is a winner. It's a still cider, made from local apples, and if you're on Purbeck you'd be crazy to drink anything else. I have a preference for dry rather than sweet cider, and the glass (or two) that I enjoyed were just perfect.

With our glasses charged we sat outside in the sunshine, enjoying Joe's wonderful brew and drinking in the view. The garden is fragrant with the blossoms of Rosa Rugosa, or Japanese Rose, which makes up a hedge around the lawn.

Playing on the connection with their namesake, Kingston, Jamaica, they've got a jerk shack in the back garden where they barbecue food for their guests.

The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset

We started off with a couple of platters from the Chesil Smokery, also in Dorset, which bills itself as the hottest little smokery in the West. The charcuterie and fish were delicious. Coming from Ulster where we have a strong tradition of smoking our food, I adore smoked meats and fish, and I have to say that these selections were exquisite. If you'd like to find out more about the smokery, you can check out its website here: Chesil Smokery.

Our party were still pretty ravenous after our morning romping around down at the castle so we ordered their wonderful succulent beef burgers and chips. Verdict: fabulous.

Our friends insisted that we try the local Purbeck Ice cream. In particular they recommended the caramel and sea salt flavour. Once again it's made a few doors down from the pub, and once again it's a wonderful, wonderful local product. The deep and profound silence that comes with food being consumed and greatly appreciated descended on the table as we all tucked in. Verdict: it's totally worth getting fat for!

And then we enjoyed our coffees and relaxed back into our chairs to admire the view some more. Let's face it you'd never get bored with that view!

If you'd like to check it out or make a reservation, the website for the Scott Arms is here: Scott Arms

The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset
The Scott Arms, Kingston, Dorset

And if you're up in Kingston, check out the lovely parish church of St. James. It's a bit of a beauty too. In fact, you can see its great square tower from the castle, which gives you a useful landmark to navigate towards if you're not sure how to get up the hill to Kingston.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Monday 19 May 2014

The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith

Wasn't the weather glorious on Sunday? - A perfect English summer day, even though it was only May, and technically still spring.

In the UK we obsess about the weather, and my theory is that all those miserable grey days make us really appreciate how staggeringly beautiful our countryside is when the sun finally manages to put in an appearance. My Spanish family joke about how, after only five minutes of sunshine, half of London will have grabbed their deck chairs, donned their bathers and made it down to the park to soak up the rays.  It's all right for them with their 360 days of blue skies and sunshine every year, but we have to make the most of it when the sun breaks through!

We seized the moment and went for a long walk along the river with our very good friends who'd got rained off the weekend before. The sun beat down, we caught up with one another's news, our children skipped along in front telling their own tall tales and the rowing eights sped past on the water.

Chiswick Eyot, Thames, London

Our walk followed the route of my Boat Race/ Chiswick Tow Path Walk, which you can find here: Boat Race Walk.

Everyone and their dog was out enjoying the rays, and I don't think I've ever seen so little water in the river. It was a super-low tide. In fact it would have been possible to walk across the empty channel to Chiswick Eyot without getting even a smidgen of mud on your shoes if you picked your steps carefully.

Chiswick Eyot, Thames, London

We started from Dukes Meadows on the Middlesex shore, crossed Barnes Bridge and walked along the Surrey shore to cross the river again on Hammersmith Bridge. Walking past the Blue Anchor Pub we spied an empty table on the terrace outside, which we immediately seized upon. It was a little early for lunch, but we reckoned that a bird in the hand was worth more than a long wait further up the river.

Blue Anchor, Hammersmith, London

Being outside seemed like the only option on such a glorious day, and with our children and Maxi, the dog, in tow it felt more comfortable than being inside. Sadly the highish wall along the walkway obscured our views of the river, but as we had plenty to chat about we hardly noticed. Perhaps if we'd gone inside and grabbed a table on the first floor beside an open window we'd have fared better in terms of being able to watch the river go by.

Blue Anchor, Hammersmith, London

The Blue Anchor is a lovely old pub in the very best English tradition. It was first licensed on 9th June, 1722 back in the time of George I, although it had probably been trading for quite a while before they got round to sorting out their paperwork. In fact it may even have had an earlier licence, but, given that the licenses before that time were granted in the publican's name rather than in the name of the premises from which they were trading, it makes it difficult to know exactly what was going on.

Blue Anchor, Hammersmith, London

We had their Sunday roasts, which came with all the trimmings and were HUGE. The children had chicken burgers from the children's menu, which were also on the generous size. Service was speedy and friendly. The food was delicious, and it was a total joy to be outside dining al fresco. Sadly we weren't able to linger over desserts and coffees as we all had other things to do in the afternoon, but I'd definitely recommend this place for a casual, relaxed Sunday lunch by the river. They seemed to have a good choice of wines, although we were teetotal on account of driving and  our later afternoon activities.

If you'd like to check it out, you can find the website here: Blue Anchor

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Monday 5 May 2014

The New Inn, Coleford, Near Credition, Devon

I love their sense of irony down here in Devon. They call our local pub the New Inn. New Inn? It's a thirteenth century coaching inn ... so to my way of thinking there's nothing remotely new about it. Maybe the explanation is that it was just a little bit newer than the cave down the road where Bronze Age man used to brew up his fire water.

You can find it in Coleford, a tiny hamlet set amidst the rolling, green hills of Mid Devon. It's a picturesque, timeless sort of a place. In the old days it used to be on the main road, but these days it's an out-of-the-way spot that you're unlikely to stumble upon by accident.

They say that King Charles I passed through on 27th July, 1644 when the English Civil War was raging all around. He's supposed to have reviewed his mounted troops standing on the porch of the house at the end with the lamppost outside, and then he was on his way to spend the night down the road in the neighbouring village of Bow.

What's in a name? Who cares if the New Inn isn't that new? It's a fabulous little watering hole that looks like a traditional country pub and acts like a traditional country pub. It isn't one of those pretentious gastro pubs without a soul where they serve up fancy-pants continental-inspired food on weirdly shaped platesThe food is wholesome British fare, and full-on delicious at that. They source most of their ingredients locally. There's Clannaborough red ruby beef from a farm just 2 miles' away, Creedy Carver ducks from another farm 5 miles in the opposite direction, best Devon sausages from a rare breeds farm in the Exe Valley, fresh mussels from the Teign and Exe estuaries, crab from Brixham, seasonal salads and vegetables from West Country farms and, most wicked of all, Devon clotted cream in the desserts.

We tend towards the wine menu rather than the ales and beers, but they hold a Real Ale Casque Award and stock a selection of local ales on tap such as Stag Ale from Exmoor and Dartmoor Ale.

You can even bring your dog to dinner if he's a well behaved pooch. What's not to like? Nothing. That's what.

We've been coming here for years. We rock up when we can't face cooking at home. The landlord and landlady, George and Carole, are terrific hosts. We've spent a New Year's Eve in here partying. We've come to celebrate Halloween when they put on a spectacular display of carved pumpkins. When friends come down from London this is where we take them to see an authentic West Country pub. This is our local, and it always feels friendly, comfortable and welcoming whatever the occasion, whatever the weather.

In the cold depths of winter they've got a cosy fire burning inside, and for those balmy summer nights there's a terrace outside with a little steam running by, complete with weeping willows and a pretty little garden. If you're lonely they've even got an Amazon Blue parrot called Captain that you can talk to. He holds court beside the bar and greets all comers with a loud "Hullo".

On the last Friday of every month from April to October they do a special hog-roast, which is epic. The poor old porker is cooked whole on a spit, and served up with all the trimmings. It's usually a buffet service, and  everyone in the village comes along and queues patiently to load up their plates, and then the greedy folk sneak back for seconds.

The last hog roast of the season is usually a special Halloween party where everyone, guests and staff alike, comes dressed up as a ghoul or a phantom. And, as I've said, they display the most incredible carved pumpkins that I have ever seen.

And would you believe it they've even got a resident ghost? This being the English countryside you'd probably feel a bit short-changed if they didn't have one.  His name is Sebastian, and the word is that he used to be a monk way back in the old days when he was alive and mortal. I've heard two versions as to how spooky Sebastian met his personal Waterloo.

The first is that he overheard a gang of brigands arguing over their ale cups about how they would share the proceeds of their cattle rustling. Sebastian, being a civic-minded chap, intervened and threatened to spill the beans, whereupon they lured him outside and slit his throat to keep him quiet.

The second version features Sebastian as a clerical Lothario who had seduced a local girl. Full of passion, one dark and moonless night, he made his way for an illicit rendezvous with his lovely lady, took a wrong turn and tumbled headlong into the little stream that runs through the village. There his ardour was cooled and his life was lost. Although one of the barmaids told me that he didn't die in the stream. He was instead apprehended and put in a gibbet.

Whatever the way of it,  he's still supposed to hang out in room 3. Some guests have reported seeing him, and sensing a dreadful chill as his shadow passed silently by.

Now I must say, for the record, that we have spent several nights in the New Inn when we've had the builders in, and I am sorry to report that Sebastian has never had the decency to show up and give me something sensational to write about.

If you'd like to spend the night at the New Inn and link up with Sebastian there are loads of lovely walks that you could go on to work up an appetite for dinner. Just strike out in any direction, and you'll find yourself in wonderful rolling countryside. The Two Moors Way, which links Exmoor with Dartmoor passes close by. You can't go wrong.

Have a great time if you do decide to stop by.

All the best,

Bonny x