Falmouth-Brightlingsea-Manchester-Dover-Manchester is feeling like an ambitious schedule at the moment, but I need to follow the trail of cheap Premier Inns.
I’ve been visiting Dover regularly the last few years, as it gradually acquires a proper pub scene to accompany it’s underrated scenery.
It’s still a mess, but it’s hard to ignore the beauty of the cliffs and castle on a cold clear evening like this. Bill Bryson was scathing about its rundown B&Bs in “Notes from A Small Island” and they don’t appear to present any better an introduction to brave French tourists.
Some of the worst derelict buildings seem to have been tidied up since last year, but it still looks a bit like Hull without the Old Town, but with hills. The Maison Dieu is a beautiful building though, and as usual I do spot enough street art to make it a useful amble round town. The 2 mile walk up the castle to the hotel is fun too, and shows that much of the suburban housing is of a decent standard, looking more presentable than the town centre.
Despite it’s shortcomings it still gets a fair few foreign visitors, though at 3pm on Sunday it’s deserted, and it didn’t look much busier this morning. Obviously the Castle and Roman museum are closed, and it will take more than great pubs with cheap beer to change the town’s perception. To be fair, I’m sure we think similarly about Calais.
Dover is fertile ground for micro pubs, with lots of empty shops and enough beer lovers to pay the rent. The Mash Tun, new to the Beer Guide, is a typically sized micro, distinguished by it’s Tchaikovsky and some cute toilets. It feels more homely than most micros, and the banter is of a higher class than that encountered in the Spoons in the morning !
The pleasant landlord used to run Blakes, once the leading specialist ale house here, and he’s put on a good range, with a house beer for £3.80 and a Gadds Porter (NBSS 3) for the standard £3. As elsewhere in Dover, it’s a cheerful place I only left as the last order bell range (4pm closing).
The other micropubs have the now traditional look, and I was drawn to the wonderful tiling of Les Fleurs, though for once the offer of Greene King IPA could not tempt me in.
Dover is no Deal or Hastings yet, but well worth a short break if you’ve got a working pair of legs. An excellent Eggs Benedict at the Spoons too.
I’m visiting a lot of micro-pubs, there must be a hundred new ones in the 2016 Beer Guide. They’re friendly, and decent beers seems permanently priced at £3 a pint. But most of them look the same, have the same customer base and soon I’ll be able to guess the beers too.