I was lost in a forest, all alone

While walking in Thetford Forest I had an interesting experience in the Eagle in Great Hockham.

This is a typical Norfolk village local, exceptionally well run and welcoming and with a better Adnams (NBSS 3.5) than I’d had in their Cambridge flagship the night before.  Fresh flowers, proper seating, small interesting food menu, the works.

A very pleasant couple came in from their walk and asked if their small dog could come in, noting canine company in the pub. They were warmly welcomed.

I then sat through a good five minutes of dog noise that would have kept you awake at Old Trafford this season. I’ve no idea what dogs they were, but the other one was very large.  It didn’t trouble the friendly locals, and I was drinking up, but that sort of racket would have attracted on-line outrage if it had come from a child.

It’s a fine line between being welcoming to all and allowing behaviour that might put off potential customers. Which reminded me that my recent experiences in Wetherspoons have seen that line crossed quite a bit recently.

I like children (never “kids”), and my own used Wetherspoons regularly before they discovered my curries were better than those on Club Night (though possibly not cheaper.)

Wetherspoons have wrestled with the issue of children over the years, but their business model relies quite a bit on family dining, and you’ll see as many Mums and toddlers as old soaks in Spoons in the morning.  Which is good – it gets people out the house and keeps pubs open.

The main complaint about children is noise, which for me is rarely an issue. What I’ve seen of late, notably in Exeter and Cambridge, is parents allowing children to run around without control, sit on the bar counter, and play the fruit machines, with all the safety and legal implications of that. There seems to be much less enforcement of the (sensible) rules than before.

It’s often the Spoons in more affluent owns, and the middle-class gastropubs of places like Islington and Twickenham where I see this disregard by parents for the comfort of others.

Pub Curmudgeon had some good thoughts on the topic here.

NB The canine menu from Hexham comes from a pub that operates a separate room for dog-owners, something we used to have more of before pubs were routinely knocked through.


  1. Badly-behaved dogs are just as annoying, if not more, than badly-behaved children. Fortunately most seem happy to just lie down under a table or bench while their owner enjoys a pint. I’m sure I’ve made the comparison before that people may love dogs, but they don’t want to sit in a pub listening to them barking.

    On my sole visit to the Haberdasher’s Arms at Knighton in the depths of rural Staffordshire, I witnessed a kind of impromptu wrestling match between two dogs of the bull terrier type, which was amusing in its way but not really what you want to see in a pub on a regular basis.

    A major problem with children in pubs, as I mentioned in the post you linked to, is that licensees, perhaps understandably, are extremely reluctant to challenge bad behaviour for fear of souring relations with customers.


    1. Couldn’t have put that better myself. When Spoons have challenged families in the past they’ve had unfair bad publicity so seem to ignore their rules now, Children at the bar especially.

      Is that Knighton pub the Banks one ? Very good but second fiddle to the Anchor.


  2. Yes, that’s the one. WhatPub says it now serves Rowton beers. A rather odd place with a bit of “there’s strangers in tonight” about it. Also appeared to have a snug with no external windows, just a window into another room.
    There are very few pubs that don’t come second fiddle to the Anchor.


    1. I just looked on WhatPub; really pleased it still just serves 6X, which was stunning, far better than in Devizes. I think some classic pubs have lost a bit of their appeal by abandoning their historic beer for a local one or a vast range e.g. the Dolphin, the Crown Posada.

      Must pitch a tent there in summer,


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