For completeness, a short review of the three pubs we visited in west Herefordshire to complete the county in the Beer Guide.
Our ticking took us into the Golden Valley, strikingly highlighted on Bing Maps by the blue line from Ewyas Harold to Bredwardine.
You may remember that Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger pre-emptively played Mrs RM and myself touring the Golden Valley in the 1993 film Shadowlands.
That’s the best shot I could get; it’s come out better than I thought. To be frank it’s a journey with highish hedges on either side that limit your appreciation, and Mrs RM got a bit hysterical when I stopped in the middle of the road and jumped out to take photos (just like Debra Winger in Shadowlands). For the best views, head for Hay and ease down to Llanthony instead.
The pubs round here are often small hotels, which mean you get more all-week (and often all-day) opening than you’d get in counties like Durham or Lincs.
As with the Temple Bar in Ewyas, a nicely modernised gastro-café which caters for gentlefolk with slices of flapjack for a quid. Despite having had a robust and leisurely Eggs Benedict in Hereford’s Little Bridge, that flapjack was gone within 27.5 seconds.
The Wye Valley HPA (hidden from sight) took a little longer to drink in the sun, not because it wasn’t OK (NBSS 3), but flapjack dulls the beery taste buds (FACT).
Perhaps the full set of What Pub symbols here, too.
Ewyas Harold (pronounced ‘Arold) is a pretty village with another recent Guide entry, and an average age of 53. We fitted in perfectly.
Less so in the Red Lion in Bredwardine (there’s no pubs called No.58 at Bred’s Boutique round here), where the customers divided neatly between old colonels and ladies in fascinators and waistcoats. The waistcoats are obviously now compulsory in a post-Southgate Britain, but fascinators ?
Ah yes, a wedding group staying at the hotel, providing all the polite society drama that Mr BRAPA and I live on.
They were running late, presumably their taxi taking the bends on the approach from Peterchurch at a more sensible speed than we had. So no business for a couple of handpumps at a pleasingly unimproved hotel bar.
They don’t dress like Kevin anymore, except in Bredwardine, where Radio 2’s Great Gambo entertained the septuagenarians with a run-through of the charts from ’76.
Not the place to try a glass of homebrew from Ruffled Feathers that was just good enough (NBSS 3). When in the Marches, stick to Wye Valley.
My last tick came in the Monkland, in Monkland near Leominster, a place I couldn’t have placed a year ago. What Pub says it’s closed lunchtime, their website says they’re open, a phone call confirms they’ll expect my visit.
This pub will be most memorable as the one where Mrs RM and I had an unfathomable argument outside the cheese shop opposite. Mansplaining cheese was the alternative title for this post, but the subject is still too raw.
Hard to judge the Monkland from outside.
Inside, three locals who could be IT professionals sit at the bar, leaving a leather sofa as the only other seating in the bar. Mrs RM nearly sinks into the sofa, and judges it less harshly than Mr RM.
No obvious food trade on a Friday lunchtime, which is disappointing, but a pubby enough feel and some beers you’ve heard of, albeit too many of them.
Once again, the Ludlow meets my minimum GBG standard (NBSS 3), and is beautifully presented. Three cool beers in the Hereford heat, but none of them are getting you off the Strongbow/Peroni/Prosecco, I fear.