You’ll be delighted to hear that, following discussions between myself and our readers in Kent and Ireland, brokered by Kofi Annan, I have agreed to discontinue the weird “paint effect” filter.
Instead, I bring you Chepstow in black and white, which I hope you like.
Actually, it looked like a black and white town in the drizzle as I emerged from the station to claim my last two Gwent ticks.
There’s some reassuring signs as you brave the drizzle and slippy streets;
As usual, I’ve tipped up a few weeks too early for the Punk weekender.
Now, I’m ambiguous about Chepstow. Some good walks round the edges, a castle and all that, but it lacks a bit of magic and I really didn’t warm to the micropub last year (partly because it knocked the Brains pub out of the Guide).
But how can you resist a rusty old hotel with a Doom Bar parasol as a new entry ?
Astonishingly, for the second time that week, the Doom Bar was off !
I’d not seen much going on early evening; I assumed they’d all cycled off to Cardiff to celebrate Gareth Thomas’s fun ride.
But, lo, here were the Professional Drinkers turned Tour de France experts, hustled around giant TVs in the Beaufort‘s Lounge.
A pleasingly dull atmosphere, an obsession with the ’80s, cool Butcombe (NBSS 3+), and a tribute to Lester Piggott. What’s not to (sort of) like ?
Actually, the answer is Coldplay*. Can there be any greater hotel-clearer than “We Found Love” ?
Still, a welcome bit of variety in the Guide, and more of that at the Five Alls, a pub I must have walked past half a dozen times and thought “Oooh, that looks rough“.
Now, if there’s one thing that screams “Proper Pub” it’s this sticker on the window.
No, not the Beer Guide sticker, silly, the Level 2 hygiene rating. I’m not joking.
And inside, it’s quite wonderful, a community pub bursting with life on Sunday evening.
Most of that life was two feet tall and nearly knocked me over on the way to the bar (and made these photos a bit of a challenge), but I didn’t mind.
I didn’t even mind the beer choice. In fact the Bath IPA (a pint to end Gwent) was pretty stunning, but I couldn’t work out if it was NBSS 4.5 or 2.5, and I never thought I’d say that about Bath Ales.
No, this was a real cultural melting pot of a place, as the Beer Guide always says about the White Lion in Walsall.
Sunday night is clearly not a quiet night.
I sat on a high table and admired how the Five Alls had made this into a welcoming pub, catering to some folk with special needs without fuss. It reminded me a bit of the atmosphere in the Carlton Arms in Cambridge under Terri and Jethro, quite a compliment.
Finally, after a few minutes of ’50s jive, I got the jukebox to myself.
My quid bought the following;
- Byrds – Bells of Rhymney (local interest)
- Kane Gang – Closest Thing to Heaven (because it was)
- BA Robertson – To Be Or Not To Be (hipster)
- Camera Obscura – Break It To Me Gently (Tune !)
- Mama Cass – Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Because…)
A couple of lads playing pool whispered “Who-put-this-on”
Then their dads started whistling along to it. A perfect moment, but not in a Martine McCutcheon way.
And that, my friends, was Gwent 2018.
A truly great place to end.