For the pubber, Surrey tends to group into 4 main headings;
- Stockbroker suburbs to the north (Englefield and Epsom) – Brunning & Price land
- Grittier “Real” towns (Staines, Woking) – Courage pubs run for Chelsea fans
- Surrey hills village pubs (Shere, Friday St) – gastropubs serving warm Ranmore
- Hambledon – £10 a pint, visas needed to enter.
Plenty of time for me to upset Surrey fans (are there any ?) over the next week, but I start with a real cracker. Fascinating OS extract, too.
Staines-upon-Thames is, I wager, a lesser known Thames town compared to Maidenhead or Sunbury, but I did uncover some famous residents, including All Alone,
and of course the musical stars of my blog title (five points).
Lots to explore, but I started in the woods.
For about 5 minutes. Until I realised it was actually now a swamp.
The walk through a heavily modernised town towards the Beehive is a mixture of charm, and whatever is the opposite of charm. With a shopping centre called “Two Rivers” it could have been Watford without the Elton John statue.
You can review the evidence and decide which bits are charming.
This is a town where my Uncle was a Church minister decades ago, but I don’t find the shop where I bought Gillan’s live version of “Smoke On The Water” back in 1980 and listened to it silently on Sennheisers at their suburban house later.
Not much modern art, though the pedestrianised High Street makes an effort with historical sculpture, and a busker plays “Wind Beneath My Wings” on a violin. It’s a “Wind Beneath My Wings” sort of town.
The Library/Museum looked the most interesting, but obviously both of those were now closed.
There’s been an interesting mix of pubs in the Beer Guide over the years, with smart riverside Fullers pubs, free houses and a stalwart basic Spoons in the east Croydon mould.
Perhaps London Stone will bring the Craft that Staines deserves.
Oddly, my notes say “but the smells !“, and it’s not what you think.
The riverside, dotted with fragrant plants, is the best smelling patch of town imaginable. What it covers up, I couldn’t guess.
Not the most picturesque part of the Thames round here, but at least there’s no stuck-up blokes in boats this far out.
The Beehive is my favourite type of Guide pub, the Irish back street local.
And not just because of the extensive range of real ale in this free house.
The choice of two types of Courage pump clip is a nice touch, bringing to mind the five different Youngs options in Bristol.
As befits the national beer of west Surrey, the Best, despite the head, is cool and creamy. It’s a lovely lunchtime drink of Beer Guide standard (NBSS 3+), and the seating is from your “proper pub” dreams.
I was highly tempted by the bar stools, but feared someone would join me to discuss John Terry or the Chelsea ladies team or summat. Chelsea posters dominate the pool room and the outside loos (no photos).
Instead, I was drawn to the benches by the unexpected sight of the Daily Telegraph, a rare John Terry-free zone.
The fastest talking Grandma in the west joined me and the bloke drinking a bottle of Courage light to discuss Grandparental duties with the Landlord, which I loved.
Courage Light man was reading from the obituaries, much to Grandma’s delight.
“Honest to God” etc etc
Not quite a classic, but pretty much an essential stop if you’re walking or boating the Thames. Coincidentally, I met a former resident of Staines in the Staffordshire Moorlands a week later who thought exactly the same.