Trips down to Kent and West Sussex do seem to involve a lot of halves of Harveys. I’m not sure any regional beer is as ubiquitous in local Beer Guide pubs as Sussex Best. I’m a fan, but it’s rarely stunning, except (as here) in Hailsham.
Twenty years ago Mrs RM and I stayed in Hartfield on some sort of “four tokens from the Telegraph” promotion, in the days when people got their news from pieces of paper. Mrs RM’s knowledge of the country pubs she’d visited from her Tunbridge Wells home was both impressive and a little bit scary; she could describe every pub en-route from the in-laws in BRAPA-like detail. Her memoirs will be stunning.
The premise for that stay in ’96, I guess, was that that you hunted people dressed as Winnie the Pooh in Five Hundred Acre Woods and celebrated with Australian students in the Anchor afterwards. The only thing I actually remember (vaguely) from that trip is lashings of Tanglefoot, the Summer Lightning or Jaipur of its day. But it’s all Lewes’s finest now.
I followed a group of gentle folk into the pub, at approximately 2.7 miles an hour, and stood patiently at the bar.
Everyone else was dining (apart from the bloke at the bar I’ve only just noticed). Look at their website and you’ll see a picture of Judi Dench. Dining.
As “England’s Least Patient Person 2014”, I’m not great at waiting at the bar, but I do at least stand quietly with toothless smile, correct money in hand.
No “Ahem, ahem“, “Why are we waiting ?”, tapping coins on the bar or waving tenners.
I waited a good four minutes while three staff made Gaggias gurgle, brought out menus and returned to check what was in the chicken and mushroom pie.
No eye contact.
My post was written in my mind*, on a theme explored by Tandleman and Pub Curmudgeon here.
But just then the young chap said “I’m really sorry to have kept you Sir. Be right with you“. And as I paid, the Landlord added “I do apologise for keeping you“. And meant it. My whole view of the pub changed instantly.
I still drunk my Harveys outside rather than hog a table, mind. It was excellent (NBSS 3.5), cool and chewy with a tight head of foam. A worthy GBG entry.
In the end though, it’s the people that make the pub.
*I don’t really go in pubs for blog material; I go because I love pubs. But you know what I mean.