Apart from his other
obsessions specialist areas of GBG pubs and moths, Duncan “Pubmeister” McKay is a non-league football expert, which may be handy for BRAPA soon.
He may remember Peppard FC, a team from a quiet Oxfordshire village which won the Combined Counties League in a 1993/94 season that went well into June, and who were denied a famous giant-killing in the FA Vase due to their pitch being too small. My season of interest in the non-league game pretty much ended when when I started repeating “Headers !” “Seconds !” in my sleep.
Anyway, back in Peppardland for the first time since then, and a Quiet Lane.
This is the leafy Chilterns, the strip of villages where Reading FC footballers lived when they earned Premiership wages (now they live in Theale).
But there’s some proper Brakspear boozers here, though the ones I remember at Gallowtree Common and Stoke Row aren’t in the Beer Guide anymore.
The Highwayman at Checkendon is actually in Exlade Street, or perhaps Woodcote, or even Greater Reading if you want to be awkward. And, not being a boozer, it opened at the outrageous time of noon. So I had 90 minutes for a walk (5 miles), enough to get to Hook End and back.
Now the one certainty about great walking areas is that you’ll never see any walkers, unless they’re eating their own sandwiches in a pub car park.
But the cyclists and horses made up for it. And squirrels.
Not the most exciting walk in the Chilterns, but at least you get to see the UK’s finest collection of potholes close-up.
The Checkendon village website enthuses over its facilities. Sadly they no longer include a pub or any sort of shop, so I was famished by the time I got to the Highwayman.
Three groups were already in the bar at 12.03, and all three of them said they had a table for four booked under the name of Smithson/Parry-Hughes/D’Arry.
As they eyed up the table near the fire, I made a dash for it. And it was mine !
Not only did they miss the prime seat, the dawdlers did so much hugging and social niceties that I sneaked my order for “Burger and Old Boy” in while they were handing out the menus. THESE PEOPLE RUN OUR COUNTRY !
The bar had another perfectly good table, rejected as being too pubby (or possibly too close to the scruff with muddy jeans, who knows).
Clearly it survives the fate of the Four Horsehoes by being a restaurant, but at least the bar has a semblance of pub, and the beer range meets all my criteria.
Always Good Old Boy, of course, a decently kept half with decent texture (NBSS 3), though everyone else went for the Hoppit.
Whether that was because it was the weakest, or the quirkiest or the local one, who knows.
Anyway, the important stuff. The best burger and chips so far this year, and rather impressive service, so an 4.5 from my Michelin offshoot.
Back to the quiet lanes..