Mrs RM and I have just completed the Beer Guide entries for Essex.  Yesterday the pubs were all heaving with Christmas bookings, which gave us a chance to moan about the once-a-year pub goers that keep our pubs going till February.

But at the end of November in wildest Essex, there were some very quiet village pubs.

Just for a change, here’s the lovely Navigator extract, with West Hanningfield next to the big blue blob of reservoir.

Exciting picture of new A130 pre-opening

Five miles away, the entire OAP  population of Chelmsford would no doubt be descending on the antiques centre at Battlesbridge. Here, a few ramblers had just left the Three Compasses on their way to the sludge treatment reed beds. Sludge treatment works are No.177 on the Trip Advisor “Things to do in Chelmsford” rankings.

Watching sludge drying a Mid-Essex highlight

Mrs RM humoured me and we set of for a walk that took us about half a mile along the banks of the water, before mud saved her from further exertion.

Autumn walks

A joy for lovers of Pubmaster insignia, the Three Compasses also has classic hours, open every lunchtime and evening.

Three Compasses

I’d expected something quite foody, but this is Essex, where unpretentious  unmodernised village pubs survive better than anywhere else apart from the Marches.  The hunting prints and red plastic menus won’t get it on the National Inventory of Classic Pubs, but this is still one to treasure.

As if the ’70s/80s/90s/00s never happened
Classic bench seating

And we had to it ourselves. Just us and the longs-serving landlady (watching soap operas on a portable TV like they do in Germany), and a slight worry the pub is in the Beer Guide as a reward for long service.

Two pump perfection

Not at all, the Maldon Gold was well presented and a solid NBSS 3+.

We sat by that fire at the top and worked out that a Ploughman’s lunch would be easiest for the landlady to knock up without fuss.

Proper fire

To amuse ourselves while we waited, we set up a special art shot of condiment bottles from smallest to largest. Just for you.

Art shot

It was a very ’70s Ploughman, certain to break every rule in the Pub Curmudgeon Book of Ploughmans. Mrs RM was expecting sourdough bread, I think.

Not Mudgie-approved

But it was cheap and filling, and you can’t always say that.

Classic art in the Gents, too;







  1. My main complaint about that Ploughman’s would be the ludicrously excessive proportion of ham in relation to cheese.

    That’s a very old Navigator if the A130 past Rettendon is shown as still under construction – I’ve driven along the new road in 2005.

    Wasn’t Lord Hanningfield convicted of expenses fraud?


    1. Martin has got me wondering if there is in fact a Pub Curmudgeon blog post describing the ideal Mudgie Ploughmans. I recall ordering one in the vicinity of Burnham Bucks that included a single huge chunk of cheese and a whole unpeeled apple, both of which delighted me.

      Loved all the photos here (including of course the art shot). Looks like a wonderful place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. An authentic ploughman’s lunch would be a huge slab of cheese, a big hunk of fresh crusty bread and an apple, maybe a bit of pickle too, all wrapped up in a colourful linen handkerchief. They never really caught on in The Great North the same way as they did down South, but oh. Look what they did to it!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Stokesley where men are men and sheep tremble. Once played cricket there and someone wanged a lump of coal at us in the pub after the match. Missed everyone and hit a brass plaque above the fire place. With a crashing din everyone looked round and the pub went quiet for a good minute or so. Sore losers I guess. Never been back since.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That post certainly sums up what a proper Ploughman’s Lunch shouldn’t be. I’d say the essentials are:

        1. Large chunk of crusty bread, with butter
        2. Large chunk of proper cheese (although the exactly variety doesn’t matter too much). Two or three different varieties can be good
        3. Selection of pickles – brown, mustard, pickled onion, gherkin maybe

        A bit of lettuce and cucumber is OK to decorate the plate, but it emphatically isn’t a cheese salad. No objection to alternatives like ham and pork pie provided they are offered as options, but shouldn’t be included by default. This is obviously especially important for vegetarians.

        Egg is always a no-no, as is beetroot as the juice gets everywhere. Whole apples are in my view inappropriate as they’re too fiddly to cut up.

        It’s important to match the proportions of bread and cheese so you don’t end up with a big lump of cheese and a titchy little roll.

        If it costs more than say £8.95 you’ll either end up with far too much or it’s a rip-off. I had a perfectly adequate one in the Anchor in Sevenoaks in September for a fiver.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I have brown sauce on cheese,bacon and sausages,i can not stand tomato sauce.

    Sorry to advertise my blog again on yours, Martin.
    But i have just posed my 2017 pub stats and it will be my last post for a long time.

    Cheers Alan

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On the old sauce thing I’ve noticed that I prefer ketchup with a hangover bacon sarnie but HP sauce when not hungover.Strange.
    Also,just to keep you updated,the reason why this week’s two day hangover was so bad is because when it wore off I found it was cleverly disguising a dose of manflu.
    That was one hell of a hangover if it was two days before I noticed I had flu.

    Liked by 1 person

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