Actually, the only thing my 10,000th Good Beer Guide pub didn’t have was Bass.
Obviously the number of pubs is largely incidental; completing the Beer Guide is all about finishing counties, then countries. I only realised I was close to the 10k when I finally updated my GBG spreadsheet last week.
Excitingly, this minor landmark was in a place I’d never been before, that I’d always assumed was a hamlet a few miles off the A68 as it heads into the Scottish borders. That means I get to draw new pink lines on my trusty millennium Philip Navigator. Big win.
Charles is a man of the world, coming from Dereham via Bathgate, and racked his brain for nuggets about Bellingham.
“It rings a bell. Does it have a power station ?”
“That’s Billingham !”
The hamlet turned out to be a beautiful, bustling village with an improbable number of pubs, always a good sign. We counted four, WhatPub shows three. Five points if you can work out what’s happened to the Black Bull’s entry.
Charles was weighing up the merits of a walk along the Pennine way, having registered those four pubs, Chinese takeaway* and New Horizons gift shop selling these;
Top graveyard too. I’d just started to read the 17th century headstones when Charles reminded me we were here to tick pubs.
A bit of a Beer Guide desert round here (bar the one five miles away), so it was important the Cheviot Hotel was open.
Not only open, but apparently almost never closed.
You know immediately when you’re in a gem, this one a cosy, unfussy place welcoming to all. Only the presence of a large table of children playing cards (probably rummy) limited my photo taking.
There were nearly as many dogs, all of the well-behaved variety, as befits one of the cheeriest Sunday afternoon sessions for many years.
Charles debated beers with the jovial landlord. He may even have asked for a sample; I disassociate myself from that crime against humanity.
And the beer was nectar. The Wylam Jakehead IPA perhaps the beer of the year.
Rather a shame, then, that I was driving, and had only a sip to make that judgement. But, in truth, a smell was enough. No doubt if I do ever complete the Beer Guide Mr Everitt will deem this cheating, but pubs are as much about rummy, flat caps, cross-breeds and hot nuts as beer. The nuts were the pub snack of the decade.
Plenty of modern touches made this a very Mrs RM place (she was organising hustings back in Cambridge).
The “pis de résistance“ was, of course, the loos.
I now have enough toilet art material for three blogs, which I will leak out over the next year. This is but a sample;
I could have stayed in there all day, but of course there are laws about that kind of thing.
I told the Landlord this was my 10,000th pub and he gave the only possible response;
“This weekend ?”
A sort of classic, and not just for sentimental reasons.
* No curry house, but I bet they deliver from Hexham