I’ve really been noticing the welcome, or lack of it, in pubs recently.  Pub Curmudgeon and Tandleman have both posted on this, and it’s pretty much the main thread through BRAPA. Welcomes, of course, come from both staff and other customers.

I’ve had good and bad this week. The bad experience, in a smart Wiltshire town, was clearly my fault because I speak Estuary/Fen, and failed to notice that everyone else was drinking pints of Courage before ordering my effete half of Butcombe Gold.  If you can work out where I was there’s a pint of Thatchers Gold on the bar at the Vaults for you.


I found Andover very friendly earlier this year, and the village of Kimpton just to the west felt like a continuation in terms of feel if nothing else.  The Welcome Stranger is the sort of farming village pub you occasionally find in East Yorkshire or rural Suffolk, but is actually on the edge of Kimpton Barracks, with the hills below Perham Down as a beautiful backdrop.

The Stranger advertises proper pub hours (12-4, 7-11), but looked decidedly closed when I tipped up at 2, with more activity from the adjacent farm than in a pub.  The owners beckoned me in to their home, a pub with the atmosphere that places nowadays attempt but fail to replicate. The owners have been here 20 years +, which rather begged the question of how it’s been overlooked in the GBG for so long.

Top 10 pub seating of the year

I’m always over-impressed by pubs that use the old-style handpumps (particularly with Bass, Pedigree or London Pride on them), and the 6X pump in the side room is a gem.

The landlord was admirably performing childminding duties (i.e. he managed more than 2 minutes with the baby before handing over to the wife).  I was delighted he didn’t feel the need to apologise that the pub did no food apart from some proper cobs/rolls/baps.

Not a difficult decision here

Despite the call of 6X, I can’t resist Otter at the moment, and this was further confirmation of the consistency of the Bitter when cared for properly (NBSS 3.5). I enjoyed it as much as anything all year, which was as much to do with the proper pub seating and the stillness of the rooms.

It was the unaffected welcome from the locals that stuck in the mind though. This is clearly a place the village comes to chat and drink, not to complain about condiments.


I don’t often volunteer the fact I’ve travelled specifically to a pub, but in a place like Kimpton you’d never stumble across it’s hard to avoid the question. For my hardship of a 5 minute detour off the A303, I was presented with a very useful pen, which I feel I ought to declare.  Goodness know what Simon Everitt will blag off them, but I’m sure he’ll be impressed.


  1. I AM impressed!! Looks and sounds like the kind of pub is proper pub men crave. A pen would do me but a skinners beer towel which I can then use to form a beer themed pair of punk trousers would be even better!

    Are you finishing Hants then?

    Is the Somerset town Taunton?


    1. Phew changed it to Wiltshire. No doubt my Mongolian reader (yes) is trying to match the Courage/Butcombe range to a Somerset pub as we speak.

      I have a cluster of pubs around what I’d call New Forest Coastal (Lymington to do) to complete Hants. In july.


  2. I was only in the town briefly. I do know what you mean in your description. Like the quiz function in the blog. Adds to the fun. Not to keep puffing you up but at least two of us are loving the blog. Great fun.


  3. My day starts with both of you and Ronald Pattinson. All very good and all equally witty. Each in their own way. You do a great job of conveying the sense of the place. Stourport for example. Great pics and text about a town I have never been to, but may visit now. Frankly, Bewdley would have been more likely until I read your post. Now it is a tougher choice. The photo of the Black Star was fantastic. As was the canal shot. You are not wasting your time doing these write ups.


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