Category Archives: Pub Reviews

We are great fans of the English Pub, especially in rural England

A farewell Sunday lunch to remember…..The Cricketers at Shroton…..a magnificent Free House….

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Well, in a little over a week we will be flying out of this country to gorgeous Florida for a well earned break, then home to Australia in the new year after 3 1/2 years living back in the UK…..wow!  My Aussie bones are very excited! but I will be sad not to be visiting this great pub for some time, The Cricketer’s Free House, in the village of Shroton, Dorset.

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I have loved this place as it’s always consistent….great fresh food, presented beautifully and the staff are always so friendly and attentive….and the owners care so much.

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Thank you to Sally, Joe and all the wonderful staff, yours is a pub we will remember forever……but soon we will be visiting ‘Surf Clubs’ on a Sunday! feasting on grilled seafood with a sea breeze cooling us down!……..a long way from an English Inn for sure, but certainly fitting for the heat and sunshine experienced on the magnificent Queensland coastline of Australia!  The Cricketers free House is truly a gem of a place.

 

The Blackmorevale Inn, Marnhull, Dorset

We have been meaning to try this pub out for a while now, and I am so pleased we did.  I love this place already and I’m so sad we didn’t find it sooner.  We just stopped by for a drink today to check it out! as we were having roast lamb later at home for dinner.

Sarah, who was working wonders behind the bar was very professional and as we approached the bar, she immediately acknowledged us and said ” I will be with you in a short moment.”  She was delightful and friendly and a breath of fresh air to be honest as service in country pubs can be disappointing.

I was looking for a special pub to have lunch on my birthday next weekend and I found it today.  The Sunday roasts on offer on the menu board today were…Beef, Chicken, Pork and Lamb!!  Wow!  Four roasts on offer is pretty special.  Menu looks and sounds brilliant too with variety and all food locally sourced and cooked fresh to serve daily.  We sat in the wonderful bar full of character…..very clean and a wonderful wood burner was a brilliant feature of the stone and wooden floored room.  The sunshine streamed in from the windows as we enjoyed our drink; we even had one of the regulars bring over a plate of wonderfully prepared finger food the landlady Gail served complimentary for her loyal friendly locals drinking in the bar.  If only this wonderful pub was in our village!

A great atmosphere in this place with a lovely ‘looked after’ feel about the place.  These people care…just wonderful, can’t wait to visit again soon.

A wonderful treat again of the beautiful drive back to Compton Abbas was passing this farm again selling gorgeous cherry tomatoes and sweet red peppers!  We bought a few!!

The Crown at Marnhull….the best thing about the food here?….the mint chocolate on the way out!!!

Saturday in England….mild but rather blustery showers ……perfect conditions for a pub lunch in the countryside (well all conditions in this country are good for a pub lunch in the countryside!!)  After ringing my mum in Australia and doing the usual washing, changing bed linen,  I started to get ready for lunch out at The Crown Inn at Marnhull,  a nearby village where the drive there and back is full of wonderful scenery of rural Dorset.

Well, I am disappointed to say the food was just awful….shocking and typical of the majority of pubs in this country.  We often call in here for the odd drink or two, but have never had a meal here before…..and we won’t again!  We both chose a pie on their menu…..Steve had the Steak, ale, parsnip and stilton pie and I had the Chicken, leek, ham and bacon pie.

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I am a very enthusiastic pie maker/lover so like to see what other cooks are making of a simple but potentially special dish.  This pie was dire in my book…..very dry, flat and flavourless filling with a top that should never be called pastry as it was like eating doughy bread that they had forgotten to season….no sign of the flavour and shortness of any type of pastry, made with good butter or lard or a combination of the two!

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Steve’s pie actually had depth of favour, although I couldn’t taste a trace of stilton cheese and the meat was very dry and the pastry again like a thick layer of bread browned that tasted of very little.  The veg accompaniment compared to what I used to see visiting my dear departed granddad in Bethlehem Nursing Home in Bendigo.  Overcooked, lifeless, colourless food, reheated to serve.  The leeks were watery and lifeless, cooked to death, carrots weren’t too bad and the new potatoes were bog standard and tasteless….no signs of any seasoning and no beautiful parsley or butter coating them like they do so wonderfully well at The Cricketers in Shroton.

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The staff were attentive but there was only one other table eating, so you would expect them to be!  We will return for a drink sometime as the bar is a great space overlooking a fantastic inglenook fireplace but wouldn’t eat here again.  Oh, the mint chocolate we were given on the way out was yummy!  best part of the lunch for me!

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We were delighted on the drive home to see the farm we past last week selling punnets of cherry tomatoes and chillies again on the roadside.  We just bought tomatoes today!!!!

 

 

 

Roast Partridge at The Cricketers in Shroton, Dorset

It’s the weekend, yippee!  and we are going out to lunch today to The Cricketers Free House in the near by village of Shroton in  beautiful Dorset.

The game season is upon us and they are now serving wonderful game birds on their menu.  Today they have roasted partridge…a very lean little delicate bird and if cooked well, an absolute delight.  They are serving this with gorgeous thin game chips, bacon & bread pudding, sweet & sour red cabbage and a white wine sauce, at £12.95, an absolute bargain!

Well, this did not disappoint as the bird was beautifully cooked and the bacon and bread pudding was simply gorgeous, similar to stuffing but with a wonderful, light texture,  The game chips were expertly made, non greasy and light as a feather.  The red cabbage was a wonderful compliment to this delicate game bird and I loved it all.

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We had a drink at the bar first and the lovely girl behind the bar gave us a sample ( a couple!) of the honey chilli nuts they have on offer.  I would highly recommend these moorish little morsels, made fresh in the pub’s kitchen.

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There were many other specials on offer including a number of fresh fish dishes……..and Joe said they will be serving pheasant soon…..unreal!

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Saturday Lunch at The Cricketer’s in Shroton…….another fantastic visit!

Well, it’s been a hell of a week, looking after a very difficult  Keeshond puppy while his owners are away…..the cat and Lab are fed up with him too!  Steve suggested lunch out today and it was just the respite I needed.  It had to be The Cricketer’s Free House in Shroton again as it never disappoints……and I couldn’t cope with another disappointing pub meal after the week I’ve had!

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Steve sitting by our favourite window at The Cricketers in Shroton…..looking a little tired though after a 30 minute rowing workout beforehand!!!!!

We were greeted with a smile by the beautiful girl behind the bar and reserved a table while we had a drink at the bar.

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A generous serving of veg was on offer and perfectly cooked….new potatoes, carrots, sugar snaps, beans and peas, tossed in a little butter and just a fantastic, no fuss accompaniment to a pie.

We didn’t go past the freshly baked pie of the day which was gorgeous with crisp shortcrust pastry and a wonderful tender filling of pork and prune.  This was the perfect ‘proper pie’ for me……There were also a number of specials on the board again today including a number of fish dishes, one being skate wing which I was almost considering!

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I was not disappointed with this gorgeous pie and the combination of pork with prunes was divine……a great marriage of flavours.  I missed breakfast and just had coffee this morning so no guilt here!!!  I will walk Basil the lab when we return home…

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I love this place….The Cricketer’s at Shroton….and no, I did not have this bottle on my own! Steve and I shared this bottle of red and the past week looking after the puppy was becoming a distant memory…. lol! He’s sleeping now which is when I like him best!!
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Looks can be deceiving! This adorable looking Keeshond puppy is a mischievious little devil…….

 

 

Fantastic Long Weekend Lunch at The Cricketers Free House in Shroton…..we didn’t want to leave!

What do you do on a wet, dismal Bank Holiday in England?  Find a good country pub and have lunch.  The Cricketers Free House in Shroton was our choice again and it was fantastic….Steve and I both had ‘the proper pie’ again! as it is so good….home made shortcrust pastry that melts in the mouth and the filling was very moorish….. tender beef and pork.  Served with beautifully cooked vegetables (new potatoes, beans, peas, mange tout and carrots, all tossed in a little butter.)  We shared a bottle of red wine and found it very hard to leave!  The service, atmosphere and food was spot on….yet again.  Thanks so much……perhaps I’ll have the mussels next time??

 

The Cricketers Free House, Shroton, Dorset

  • Great food, service and atmosphere…..
    Just back from a lovely lunch at The Cricketers and it didn’t disappoint, in fact it was the freshest, beautifully cooked pub food I have had in a long while…fantastic! We sat outside in the sunny beer garden and the tables were filling up quickly. Steve had one of the famous pies (pork and beef today) and it was just sensational with crisp, homemade short crust pastry. Presented beautifully it came with a decent serving of veg (buttered new potatoes, peas, beans, carrots and mange tout.) I chose the Cod in Beer batter which was cooked perfectly, served with a generous serve of crisp, golden chips and a lovely mixed leaf salad, along with tatare sauce and fresh lemon….extremely good (and I was pleased I missed breakfast and walked the dog up Melbury Hill this morning!!) The menu is so reasonably priced, not over complicated and many daily specials were on offer on the blackboard inside. We drank wonderfully chilled Stowford Press Cider and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The staff are wonderful, a breath of fresh air really…so polite and the attention to detail is just fantastic (our plates were cleared in no time with a friendly smile)….but all good things must come to an end, but we will be back again soon!!! Magic place.

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Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas, Dorset

Steve enjoyed a great Birthday lunch last weekend at the Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas in Dorset.  It was gorgeous sunny day, but a little too cool to sit outside!

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The Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas, Dorset
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Tubs, pots and hanging baskets with spring flowers are a lovely greeting at the Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas

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Steve with Gina and Ken who were visiting from Florida, in the Conservatory at The Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas, Dorset. I promise Ken was not asleep for the entire lunch!

 

We booked a table in The Conservatory which was lovely….we ate in this wonderful, bright and airy room when Steve’s mum Gina and husband Ken were visiting recently from Florida.  I love this place, it has a great atmosphere and the food is pretty good.  Advisable to book though as it can be quite busy, especially on the weekends.

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The Greyhound Inn Blue Vinny Wellington, a vegetarian delight!
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Buttery garlic french bread at the Greyhound Inn, Sidling St. Nicholas

I chose a scallop and bacon salad (scallops were cooked to perfection) and Steve had a Blue Vinny Wellington.  Tender vegetables were wrapped in philo pastry and served on a bed of Blue Vinny sauce.  He thought there could have been a little more blue cheese flavour in the sauce, but other than that, cooked and presented beautifully.  We ordered a side of lovely green veg and french garlic bread.

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The scallop and bacon salad at The Greyhound Inn was wonderful
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Water served with fresh orange and lime is fantastic
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Flowers on the tables and throughout the Greyhound are a beautiful, fresh touch

This is a great country pub in a pretty village, down the hill from Brynmor Acres.  If only they left there doors open on a Saturday afternoons as it would be great to walk down and back to Brynmor for a pint!

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The Greyhound has a great selection of real ales and are very well kept too.
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Happy Birthday Brownie Cake for Steve!

The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend, Hampshire.

This gem of a pub, called The George and Dragon was a favourite of ours when we lived in Baughurst.  In the winter the fires were a wonderful comfort from the bleak winter chill outside and in the summertime, the outdoors were fantastic……the beer garden went on forever!  Springtime saw the beautiful willow tree under planted with daffodils…we spent many hours relaxing in the sun (that’s if the weather was kind) at this pub, especially enjoyable after a long hike in the Hampshire countryside.

The George and Dragon, Wlverton Townsend in the spring is delightful.
The George and Dragon, Wlverton Townsend in the spring is delightful.

The George and Dragon, Wlverton Townsend in the spring is delightful with spring bulbs in full bloom, especially under the large willow tree at the end of the beer garden.

The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend, Hampshire
The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend, Hampshire

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, Tadley, Reading.

The Pineapple Pub, Brimptom Common, Reading,
The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, Reading
A pint of London Pride real ale and a Stowford Press cider was our typical order at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
A pint of London Pride real ale and a Stowford Press cider was our typical order at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
The woodburner in the inglenook fire place at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
The woodburner in the inglenook fire place at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

Steve’s missing his real ale and I suppose I’m missing the lovely English pubs too that we frequented whilst living in the UK.  This lovely historic pub was our local and I am sure we will pop in for a pint again in the future.

Quirky handmade furniture at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
Quirky handmade furniture at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire, Pub Review.

I was tidying up my computer and realised I had not included a pub review of The Ship Inn at Ashford Hill on my website.  Sorry John!  Better late than never!

The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire.
The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire.

This village pub has a wonderful position, backing on to the Water Meadows and Woods at Ashford Hill.  It is wonderful in the summertime to take a walk through the woods and meadows, stop for a pint or two and some lunch then walk off the calories back to the starting point!  We lived about a half hours walk away and loved the walk through the water meadows to sit outside and sip a cool beverage or two!

A half pint of Suffolk Cider and pint of real ale from the barrel on the bar (which changed regularly) was our usual tipple. The strongbow on tap was also popular with the locals.
A half pint of Suffolk Cider and pint of real ale from the barrel on the bar (which changed regularly) was our usual tipple. The strongbow on tap was also popular with the locals.

The owner, John and his family have had this place for forty odd years I hear.  He used to run the post office in the village before small village post offices were made to disappear!  He still has a paper delivery service which delivers daily to a couple of hundred local homes.   His wife arranges the most gorgeous flower displays and it is a treat for flower lover me, especially in the Spring, to see what she has arranged on the tables.

The Ship Inn also has accommodation, nine en-suite rooms at very reasonable rates which includes a full English Breakfast.  There is also WIFI which is a bonus. The pub fronts on to the B3051, so easy to find.  It opens all day, except Sunday where John shuts up shop around 3pm, after the Sunday lunch trade.  Lunch is served seven days a week and evening meals Monday to Friday. We finished a 13 mile hike (22kms) at The Ship Inn with one of their sausage and onion sandwiches and the best crisp, hot chips I have ever had!  This went down extremely well with a bevy after a massive few hours in the countryside.

The best crispy, hot chips I have ever had, at The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill.
The best crispy, hot chips I have ever had, at The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill.

The food here is basic, but very well done.  Everything is priced so reasonably it’s almost hard to believe.  Sunday lunch is a big hit and bookings are advisable.

The sausages and onion sandwich was basic, cheap and yummy!
The sausages and onion sandwich was basic, cheap and yummy!

Well, The Ship Inn at Ashford Hill is a place you should visit….especially if you are taking in a hike or a short walk through the water meadows.  Thanks to John and his sons for making us so welcome while we were living in England.  I wonder what flowers John’s wife has arranged in the pub this week?

The Ship Inn, Ashford Hill, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG19 8BD.  Phone: 0118 9814504.

 

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, Reading, Berkshire.

Valentines Day in the late afternoon at The Pineapple Pub in Brimpton Common, didn’t disappoint in any shape or form!  We pre ordered a cheese board for two to divulge around 4pm with some lovely Aussie red wine. 

Vases full of red roses on the tables....a.fabulous touch as we entered The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
Vases full of red roses on the tables....a.fabulous touch as we entered The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

 A very nice surprise to see fresh flowers adorning some of the tables.  It was a lovely touch.  The wood burner was burning beautifully and the regular local crowd were sipping on their bevvy’s just like normal.  I started with a Stowford Press cider and Steve was pleased to see Spitfire Real Ale on tap, so chose this with a smile on his face!  Wonderfully served ale as usual!

Half of Stowford Press Cider and a Spitfire Real Ale was a great starter at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
Half of Stowford Press Cider and a Spitfire Real Ale was a great starter at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

 But the best was yet to come.  When we ordered a great bottle of Aussie Red Wine, the cheese board came out, delivered by Tyler the manager.  Great job mate!  This was amazing….such a generous serve for very good value.  Thanks to the fantastic chef……it was presented beautifully.  We had a selection of five cheeses, with caramelized red cabbage to die for.  This had a jammy quality that complimented the cheese so well, especially the brie in my opinion.  There was also rocket, cherry tomatoes, Jacob’s cream crackers and a generous amount of butter if you like to add this.

The chef at The Pineapple Pub Brimpron Common made an amazing cheese plate for two.
The chef at The Pineapple Pub Brimpton Common made an amazing cheese plate for two.

 This cheese plate for two was fantastic value at 8.95.  We made a few of the hungry local drinkers a little hungrier I’m certain.  Teamed with the Aussie red wine, this was a sensational way to spend a couple of hours on any occasion, not just Valentines day.  Thanks guys, we will repeat this activity for sure!!

Cheese and wine at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.....sensational.
Cheese and wine at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.....sensational.

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, Tadley, Reading

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and we are heading off to the Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common for a late afternoon drink.  We organised for the chef to make us a special cheese board to have with some lovely red wine by the fire side.  A great way to celebrate in our favourite local.  No other couples in sight (hopefully!) just a few of the regular lot sipping away on their usual bevvy.

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, where a wonderful fire will greet you as you enter the front door.
The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, where a wonderful fire will greet you as you enter the front door.

 The pub is doing a special Valentines set dinner menu for those who want that kind of treat, but bookings have been coming in fast, so if you want a table, get cracking………phone Tyler on 0118 981 5006.

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common
The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common

 

 

The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, Christmas Menu,

Like it or not, Christmas is approaching fast.  The season of over indulgence can be a problem for some! but if you keep repeating “everything in moderation,” you’ll be kinder to your wallet and waistline!

Our lovely local pub, The Pineapple at Brimpton Common, has a great Christmas Menu now, along with their regular yummy offerings on the blackboards and printed menu.

The Pineapple, Brimpton Common.
The Pineapple, Brimpton Common.

Here’s the Christmas Menu….contact the pub for further details and you’ll probably need to book ahead…..it’s a pretty popular spot! 0118 981 5006

And for Main Course…….

And Desserts…….

 

Hope you enjoy this Christmas Menu……it’s worth the visit!

The Pineapple, Brimpton Common, Berkshire.

We have just walked back to the cottage after a lovely early Saturday evening drink at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common, better known as “Our Local.”  The new manager is Tyler, a great young guy with energy and interest.  A breath of fresh air really……..I believe he is a winner for this place and not bad looking either!

The Thatched Roof is a wonderful sight at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
The Thatched Roof is a wonderful sight at The Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

 How happy was my husband Steve! when we made our way to the bar, under the lovely old low beams, to see a barrel of real ale resting on top of the bar.  Steve, just to mention is a rather special fan of the good old real ale!  Tyler is now doing a guest real ale poured straight from the barrel on the bar.  This was just put on this morning and was doing very well while we were there, with a number of punters sampling and ordering pints of the stuff!  Steve thought it was excellent….well done Tyler.  Anyone who puts my husband in a good mood is a friend of mine.  Instead of my regular Stowford Press Cider, I had a large glass of an Aussie red wine on offer.  Have to support my homeland exports!!  This was a smooth, gorgeous Shiraz…wonderful on an early Autumn evening!

The wood burner at The Pineapple is a real gem.....now that the weather is cold it burns continuously.....
The wood burner at The Pineapple is a real gem.....now that the weather is cold it burns continuously.....

 I really would have loved to have stayed for another glass of red wine (this place is always hard to leave!) but it was getting dark and we were walking back to the cottage.  Only a short ten minute stroll back wasn’t far at all……always nice after sitting for an hour or so.  We may be back there tomorrow, being Sunday….we’ll see!  Just remembered, a Christmas menu has been just released and it sounds wonderful……I will post this soon…..If there is no barrel of a guest ale on the bar when you visit, choose a pint of Fuller’s London Pride, always kept and served extremely well.  Cheers!

A Pint of London Pride Real Ale and a Stowford Press Cider never disappoints at The Pineapple, Brimptom Common.
A Pint of London Pride Real Ale and a Stowford Press Cider never disappoints at The Pineapple, Brimptom Common.

 

Eyre Court Pub/Hotel, Seaton, Devon.

We had just walked The Under-cliffs Path from Seaton to Lyme Regis and as we made our way back into Seaton, it was still a lovely! typical summer’s day here in England….very grey and overcast with the threat of rain at any moment!

The very peaceful unspoilt seafront at Seaton, Devon.
The very peaceful unspoilt seafront at Seaton, Devon.

We had worked up quite a thirst and what better way to quench this than a pint in one of the local pubs here.  The Eyre Court was a good choice and Steve was impressed to have sampled the best pint of Tribute he has ever had.  This Real Ale is a West Country favourite from Corwall”s St. Austell Brewery. At 4.2% abv, it is brewed using specially grown Cornish Gold Malt.  It has a fine balance between malt, hops and fruit with a dry and bitter finish.  My God, how hard was it going to be to get Steve to leave this pub?

The best pint of Tribute Steve has ever sampled!  I was pleased with my choice of Gaymer's cider.
The best pint of Tribute Steve has ever sampled! I was pleased with my choice of Gaymer's cider.

Well anything wet in my mouth at this stage was a good thing! so I chose a Gaymer’s Cider.  Originally brewed in Norfolk, today the Gaymer Cider Company is the second largest cider maker in the world, producing all of it’s ciders at its Shepton Mallet Plant in Somerset.  I also sampled one of their Perry Ciders which I preferred.  It was lighter, crisper and fresher, a wonderful real cider made from pears.  Yes, I could see it was going to be hard to leave this place!

Eyre Court Hotel, Seaton, Devon.
Eyre Court Hotel, Seaton, Devon.

The manager of this pub takes so much pride in the upkeep of his cellar.  When Steve complimented his Tribute, he was thrilled and revealed how hard he works to serve his ales at their best.  It is quite a large place, with accommodation for tourists and Coast Path walkers. We chose well and would recommend it highly to anyone passing through for a pint or two.

The Pineapple Pub, Brimptom Common, Berkshire.

With our supper already sorted for this evening (Steve has made a Beef Rendang with rice and flat breads!) and after all our jobs done, we were looking forward to a couple of quiet drinks down at our local pub, the Pineapple, at Brimpton Common.

Hanging baskets adorn the front of the Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
Hanging baskets adorn the front of the Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

We had both been to the gym earlier that morning so there wasn’t any guilt about a beverage or two.  We were extremely delighted that Robin Redbreast joined us while we were there.  He loves the beer  garden at the Pineapple.  We must remember to take a few little bits of bread for him next time we visit!

Robin Redbreast joined us for a drink at the Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.
Robin Redbreast joined us for a drink at the Pineapple Pub, Brimpton Common.

So, it was very relaxing, sipping on a Stowford Press Cider in the lovely beer garden with Robin and Steve who ejoyed his pint of London Pride.

Jenny Kirwan (me!) enjoying my Stowford Press Cider in the beer garden at the Pineapple, Brimptom Common.
Jenny Kirwan (me!) enjoying my Stowford Press Cider in the beer garden at the Pineapple, Brimptom Common.

The Badger’s Wood Pub, Baughurst, Tadley, Hampshire.

A very friendly local pub, The Badgers Wood
A very friendly local pub, The Badgers Wood

We have known this pub for only a short time but can safely say it would have to be run by the most welcoming, friendly couple. 

 Alan is spot on with the care of his real ales.  Bombardier and Hobgoblin are the most popular and always poured expertly by Alan or Sylvia his hard working wife.  She has the gift of the gab, always with a smile on her face.  Even when their boiler decided it wanted to go to heaven, she made sure her customers were kept warm with the open fires blazing constantly….still with a cheery smile.

The Badgers Wood, Strongbow Cider and Bombardier
The Badgers Wood, Strongbow Cider and Bombardier

It’s a great locals pub and a good spot to call in for a quick glass or two.

The Pineapple at Brimpton Common, Berkshire.

The Pineapple?  Not the most traditional name for an English pub is it, but everything else here is.

Winter frontage at the Pineapple
Winter frontage at the Pineapple

As you approach the lovely looking thatched pub and wipe your feet at the front door, you have to duck your head to enter.  The low beams continue as you move through the pub towards the bar.

One of the lovely girls there will welcome you and serve a pretty good Real Ale (Timothy Taylor is my husband’s favourite there) and my choice is a pint of Stowford Press Cider which is always good here.

Darren, the landlord is doing a great job here since it closed its doors just past a year ago now.  The dreaded brewery chains don’t make it any easier to survive in this already hard economic climate. 

A Pint we had been looking forward to!
A Pint we had been looking forward to!

The massive open wooden burner/fire is always a wonderful welcome, positioned in the huge inglenook fire place.  This is a great place to escape the chill outside and as the skies become darker, candles are lit to create a wonderful atmosphere.

The resident young Labrador called Cocoa will usually greet you with a sniff or two and he does a great job hoovering up every single crumb he can find on the slate and stone tiled floors!  Don’t worry about leaving a crisp or peanut or two on the floor as it will be cleared up in no time.  Well behaved dogs are allowed and welcomed by Cocoa!

Cocoa
Cocoa

Well, another relaxed Sunday drink at the Pineapple Pub in Brimptom Common, Hampshire.  The walk back to the cottage was very welcome and we were looking forward to getting the wood burner fired up again and getting our Roast Chicken  supper underway!

Christmas Cheer at the George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend

George and Dragon Pub, Wolverton Townsend
George and Dragon Pub, Wolverton Townsend

We pull up to The George and Dragon Pub for a couple of festive glasses before our Christmas feast at home and there seems to be a decent crowd there already, going by the amount of cars outside.

Paula looks gorgeous and offers me a glass of champagne and Steve a pint of his favourite real ale.  She made the most amazing smoked salmon pinwheels filled with cream cheese and herbs…magnificent with the champagne.  She also made tiny meat filled pies which went down a treat with Steve’s ale.  How special was this.  Just brilliant…and with class.  We stayed for two drinks as we had to get back to check on the lamb..and the fire…..but it was hard to leave (again!)  The atmosphere was so relaxed ……just people standing, sipping, nibbling and chatting before they had to head home for their own Christmas feast.  thank you Paula and Lionel…..it was just lovely.

A Merry Chilly Christmas

Woke up a little later than usual on Christmas morning…wanted to go for a walk but it was quite foggy and bleak and also very cold….made my husband and I leek scrambled eggs and bacon.  A beautiful start to the day.

I make a brief visit into the dog’s room to wish Jester and Indi a very “Happy Christmas!”  Jester is absolutely totally absorbed with his new Christmas bone filled with chicken (our present to him)  His tail is wagging madly but doesn’t move from his bed…”Thank you Jenny, Merry Christmas to you too but could you let me finish my bone?”

Indi gets up out of his bed thinking I’ve come in to take him out for a walk!  “No Indi boy, just coming in to wish you a Happy Christmas.”   “Oh, that’s a shame.”  I think I heard him mumble!  “How come Jester’s got a special treat then?  Where’s my special grand treat?”  I bet he said.  “In you bed Indi, have a good day.” I say to him  and give him a good old pat.  The look he gave me was disappointment and he resumed back to huddling up in his cosy bed.

 Meanwhile Jester the little monkey was still madly wagging his tail while engrossed in his new bone.  When I went over to him to say goodbye he rolled over onto his back (bone still in his mouth) and let me tickle him a little on his belly.  left their room pleased to have seen the two lovely dogs.

So, it’s just the two of us this year for Christmas day (I rang my parents in Australia last night to wish them Merry Christmas as they are 11 hours in front of us here in the UK)  So, I have no stress cooking for a large number and am enjoying this quiet time very nicely thank you!  Not doing a traditional lunch. We will be serving a slow cooked leg of lamb marinated over night with rosemary, garlic pesto and tomato paste, topped with onion and a decent amount of red wine in the pan.  This will cook for 3- 4 hrs and will fall off the bone to serve.

So, this morning I’m setting a lovely table for two! with candles.  I’ve made a cauliflower cheese, prepared brussel sprouts and carrots.  Also made thin wholemeal bread stick toasts for our smoked salmon caper and creme fraiche starter (we will have this when we get back from the “George and Dragon.”  Cheese board includes a West Country Cheddar, Stilton and French Brie.  We have some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (a gift for Steve from the big house) as well as some French Champagne and some decent Australian red wine. 

We have a gorgeous fire burning now and the cottage is very cosy….oh my God! the sun is out now which is quite lovley….think I will turn a few lights off now and let the Christmas tree lights take centre stage.

We just rang Steve’s mum on skype in Florida for a Christmas chat.

Sunday Roast Lamb at The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend, Hampshire

Winter at The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend
Winter at The George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend

Sunday lunch is always a treat at The George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend. 

It is especially good when Paula has Roast Leg of Lamb on the menu.  The sensational waft of lamb cooking as you enter the pub is truly mouth watering (my favourite roast meat, if that isn’t already obvious!) 

If your lucky enough,  (or smart enough to book as my husband did) the table by the fire is unbeatable, especially on an icy cold day as this was.

We settle very well in front of the roaring fire and after a pint of real ale (my husband chose Henry’s IPA) and a Thatchers Cider for me, we order our meal at the bar. 

Our meals come swiftly to the table and we are not disappointed.  Quite a huge serve of tender, succulent lamb is accompanied by a large roast potato, Yorkshire pudding and beautifully cooked broccoli, carrots and peas, along with a perfect amount of gravy and a side dish of mint sauce.  Pretty damn good, and the Australian Shiraz Cabernet turned it into a feast for lamb loving me!  Priced at £9.99, it’s extremely good grub for the price.

The other Roast of the day was Loin of Pork.  Other specials were listed on another menu board along with some yummy desserts and the full menu was also on offer.

It’s always hard to leave this place….just as well it isn’t open all day as we would certainly be tempted to linger a little longer!

Fire-side chat at the George and Dragon, Wolverton Townsend, Hampshire

One of my favourite, relaxing, most enjoyable pastimes….. to kill an hour  in the early evening, is sitting with my husband at the round table by the amazing, blazing fire at the George and Dragon Pub in Wolverton Townsend. 

By the fire at the George and Dragaon, Wolverton Townsend.
By the fire at the George and Dragaon, Wolverton Townsend.

 It’s a five minute drive or so from our place and never disappoints.  I occasionally drag my husband there at lunchtime on my day off for a pint and a serve of their lovely pork pate.  We find it hard leaving that table when it’s bitter and cold outside! 

It is a very well run country pub and as the owners have been there for 25yrs now, they take great pride in the running of the place.  My husband is a huge fan of real ale! and will be delighted to tell anyone that Lionel tends his cellar of ales to the highest standards.  “This is very good”, “top class” is often heard from his lips (when the pint glass isn’t touching that part of his face!) 

Christmas is looking magnificent here already with Lionel’s talented wife Paula decorating the characterful pub with her touch of Christmas.  She has a lot of class and does a brilliant job at running this pub with Lionel. 

Even though we are in the depths of bitter, winter conditions now, I must mention this pub in the summer is also a real gem.  They have a huge, magnificent green outlook from numerous tables facing a beautiful old willow tree.  In the spring, this is under planted with a huge display of daffodils.  Also, plenty of parking and very dog friendly.  We are off there for a bite to eat on Friday night, perhaps a bottle of a lovely Australian red wine along with a great steak from Wyatt’s Butchers Wolverton Park…..Magnificent!  Hope no one has booked the round table by the fire!   Will keep you posted!