No-one believes it, but I can get to Durham quicker (and cheaper mid-week) than West London’s suburbs. Three hours to Sunbury, but of course it’s worth it to see the UK’s fourth greatest city.
I felt a bit cheated. Sunbury-on-Thames in the Beer Guide normally means this;
A smart dining pub with riverside views and the ubiquitous Naked Ladies* is now obligatory for Sunbury, but there isn’t one this year. Instead we have a smart dining pub with the ubiquitous London Pride in a scruffy bit of Feltham.
I decided to re-evaluate Feltham before the Hare & Hounds opened. I’ll spare you the tattered Chelsea flags and playing fields; the main building of interest on the way up Cadbury Road is the BP Head Office, but I appreciate it’s a marginal pleasure unless you’re a fan of corporate glass.
In my first year in the NHS I was sent to Feltham to learn how to switch on computers (I’d forgotten a couple of years later, but married well shortly thereafter), and had to spend the night in a scary B&B. As a 22 year old old who’d hardly left the Fens, if left some scars. I don’t remember braving any of the pubs that night, but found a decent Chinese takeaway.
If only they’d had the flashy new Travelodge (£94 tonight, unbelievably) back then. I presume it serves as an emergency room when your flight from Heathrow gets cancelled. If that happens, I recommend that you try the well-established Wetherspoons at least. The beer wasn’t better than OK (Hooky/Yeastie collab NBSS 2.5), but the atmosphere was buoyant.
Apart from the local beers they had the Eton Rifles craft keg as well. The enterprising beer range may reflect the manager’s own tastes but I suspect real ale sales here are at levels closer to Corby than Chorlton. Other beer sales were rather stronger.
The two barmen were cheerful and chatty with customers, a great advert for Spoons in a terrific location for observing early morning English drinking. No EU chat here either.
I attempted to follow the Feltham Heritage trail for a bit. This consists of a few old buildings round the pond, including this one with a phone box and bathtub. The signs for the Heritage trail petered out a bit around the back of Domino’s Pizza, but re-emerged at St Dunstans.
Back in Sunbury, the Hare & Hounds is a real oddity. Fullers have clearly given a fairly plain suburban pub a major glamming-up, mirroring what John Barras have done at the Golden Hind in Cambridge. It feels very out of place.
That said, it’s gorgeous, inside and out, and the manager was another gem. A slight shame, then, that the Pride wasn’t drinking well. A braver person would have gone for the ESB, and a pint at that.
Feltham isn’t for the fainthearted but it is incredibly friendly, which counts for a lot.
* this one