It’s a bit unfair to call the middle of Northumberland a beer desert, though you can see from the Beer Guide extract below just how few there are between the A1 and the A69, so you have to get your ticks when you can.
That lack of pint pots is due to the lack of people between Kielder and the National Park, of course.
That makes the presence of a second new GBG tick something of a bonus, even if I am on the Fentimans.
Only 286 in the parish, presumably all on a bus trip to Hexham Spoons, as the Holly Bush had a select band of drinkers. As the landlady said, “Blink and you’ll miss us”.
Three locals at the bar, one tucking into her Cumberland sausage (“Get it doon yer neck, pet“) , another claiming to be “absolutely mortal“. Perhaps this is where Geordies dismayed by the gentrification of the Free Trade hide out these days.
My travelling companion is never one to stand idly by when there’s a double entendre to be rendered, weighed in with “You can’t beat a big sausage“, which seemed to be lost in Edinburgh/Geordie translation.
As various characters came and went from the bar, I did wonder if I’d stumbled on a piece of performance art sponsored by the Sage.
I was delighted to see just one beer on (Nel’s Best from down the road at High House); a quick taste suggested it was proper cool and chewy, just like my ginger beer. A packet of Pipers, who really ought to sponsor me, had survived the longer journey from Brigg well too.
I felt like sitting down on the bench seating to admire the photo of Charles and Camilla above the fireplace, but frankly the landlady was holding forth on a variety of matters and that would have been rude. We took her advice to admire the garden views though.
Somehow the Holly Bush has managed to combine a very unpretentious boozer with a homely restaurant area and B&B for the Dark Skies enthusiasts who came in as we left. I fear their evening in a hut in Kielder may have been better spent in the bar.
NB No idea why I took this shot; possibly I thought it was from the Roman museum at Vindolanda. Makes a nice beer mat, anyway.