One of the most contentious issues in the pub blogging world is what makes the optimal music selection in a Proper Pub. This is very different from what constitutes good music; I don’t expect to hear Car Seat Headrest or Bo Ningen in a Sam Smiths pub, or Bruckner’s Eighth in a Brewer’s Fayre.
I think BRAPA and I agree that Dire Straits is what you want in your average local, or at a push Nik Kershaw or Level 42. And so it was that Mark King’s mates turned up on my Durham crawl, confirming that great county has finally left the ’70s behind.
It was chugging rubbish back in ’83, it’s rubbish now. (I’m sure that jam smeared over my vinyl copy of “Standing in the Light” was no accident).
But it’s our rubbish, and it’s recognition of that fact which makes it perfect pub music for pubs like the Cross Keys in Eastgate on the A689 in Weardale, one of the world’s great roads. WhatPub even lists the address as A689.
There’s nothing between Middleton and Eastgate, except stillness, potholes and sheep trying to sneak through gates you have to open yourself half-way down. You can’t even see the road on the WhatPub map above, which probably means it doesn’t exist. Do I ?
Westgate, to the west of Eastgate (I’m learning, Mudgie), has a campsite next to a homebrew pub and a ford that was unexpectedly deep, even in the middle of our current drought. Family Taylor bravely stayed here in the summer of 2014, a summer it rained incessantly, prompting the upgrading of our tent to a campervan a year later.
I’d assumed that we’d preemptively visited ALL the pubs round here while dodging the rain, but apparently not the Cross Keys, built to withstand Weardale’s worst weather as well as day-trippers from Bishop Auckland.
I would have remembered the sign on entry.
It was cosier than that austere notice suggests. Everyone seemed to have come from or be off to a week in Marbella. Or at least they were dressed for it. Anyway, they made me feel young for a change, which was nice.
It didn’t feel gastro, but everyone in the bar was queueing for the 1.30 Sunday lunch sitting in the informal restaurant, so I hope the 1.00 session was getting a move on with their chicken and caulis.
Durham does this sort of place better than most; it reminded me of the Miner Arms in Acomb, without the smell of “boiled cabbage”. The sort of place you’d come for Sunday lunch when you don’t need an indoor play area and unlimited ice cream machine any longer.
Those pewter tankards are just for show, aren’t they ?
I guessed the gentlefolk in the corner (below) come here every Sunday. If they do, they probably keep the Cross Keys going all week. Good to see the ladies on pints.
I sat in the sunshine with a decent half of Golden Plover, and pondered on the mystery that has endured 35 years. Why is “Living It Up” written as “Livin’ It Up” on Wiki. These things matter.