Approaching the end of Surrey’s Beer Guide entries now, and still no sign of a great wave of craft flooding down from Bermondsey (or up from Brighton).
Instead, the new entries are nearly all your typical eateries with lots of handpumps, rather like Oxfordshire in fact.
I like the county a lot though. Box Hill apart, it’s known more for smart villages, golf courses and gated communities than natural beauty, but the countryside inside the M25 is wild and wonderful in places. I wouldn’t have discovered Banstead Heath if not for GBG entries in oddly named places like Mogador and Mugswell.
Woodmansterne is typical of the area below Croydon. A rambling parish with woodland, golf courses and a prison, it provided some modest walking on Sunday, and a modest new Guide entry in the Woodman.
This should tell you all you need to know about the Woodman:-
Yes, more busy seating arrangements. Actually most of the pub’s custom seemed to be standing at the bar in groups, and I had to move from that comfy looking window seat as claustrophobia kicked in. Plenty of posing tables available to enjoy a decent Dorking Gold (NBSS 3) from a sensible little range.
It’s always a joy to visit a family dining pub on a Sunday afternoon, and this is a classic of the type. Lots of cheery people and barking dogs, all enjoying their local pub in a South London style, and I do like to see people enjoying pubs.
My only previous trip to Reigate was in 1998,when I fitted in a quick last pint before a Gatwick flight to a work assignment in Zimbabwe (some interesting beer there). In 1998 I thought Harare looked more modern than Reigate, and the pubs weren’t much worse.
The fact I’ve never had to go back to the centre of town says a lot about the pub scene since then. Dorking and Guildford seem to have a healthy rotation of good pubs, and there’s clearly spending power in Reigate.
This GBG has just the Bell, a new entry this year, and it’s a Greene King house ! I presume it’s in the Guide for its range of local guests though, including a Westerham Grasshopper (NBSS 3).
A peculiar narrow shaped place, with plenty of decent seating and a few nice touches, including the historic OS map on the ceiling. The Bell had also kindly provided (I assume)two actors for my afternoon entertainment, whose comedic routine revolved around the merits of Coldplay v Bieber, and a sketch involving the actions to YMCA. All for the price of a half, and much better value than the rubbish you’d get on the telly anyday.
The town was much better than I remembered, primarily due to the gorgeous park developed around the castle remains.
Sadly the High Street itself was very identikit, with a string of Italian/Thai/Steak chain houses that made this seem like tourist Cambridge without the history. Redhill has much more to offer the urban explorer, which is saying something. Noticeably, no Spoons.