Back in Essex to finish off ticking our most consistent county for pubs. Mirroring the rest of the country, this year the last three ticks are a micro, a brewery tap and a very Proper Pub.
The micro was so worthy but dull that I can’t bring myself to bore you with pictures of its identikit barrels-for-seats and high tabled interior (think Hebden) and admittedly good Suffolk Pale. But it’s not about beer, is it ?
So instead here’s Rochford, where you’ll always get a pub experience, like it or lump it. I thought this might be a radical new help yourself beer pump, but sadly it dispenses Strongbow Dark Fruits.
The town looked very autumnal, it being autumn. Most folk would describe this as a middling town, in every sense.
Enough shops (mostly pet shops and nail bars),
just enough pubs, though Shep’s Kings Head has gone,
and just enough attractive feeling to offset the sense you’re back in 1987.
Most people would head through to the riverside pub in Paglesham, which is what we did a year ago, before stopping for chips here. They lasted us all the way to the M25.
I did a full tour waiting for the 11am opening, touring the hospitals, charity shops and the Greggs, where I gave in to the tuna crunch and cappuccino lunch deal.
I then had the issue of where to leave my coffee cup while I went in the Rose & Crown for my tick. You can’t take your own hot drinks in a pub, can you, even if Si takes his lunch in.
I hid in behind the advertising board, and hoped no-one used it for alternative purposes.
I entered at 11.10am to find ten regulars already in (there’s no Spoons in Rochford), and the first Danny Wilson LP playing.
Two Old Boys were complaining about Christmas decorations.
“Not fooking Christmas, already, is it ?”
That will be the theme for every pub conversation till Christmas Eve.
A traditional, sprawling pub where anyone would be welcome to join in at the bar, or hide away in the seats round the edge.
I had a half of the cutting-edge craft from Sharp’s, which was smooth and lovely (NBSS 3+) and only £3.20 a pint. It tasted its 5%, too.
“Yeah, get in there. TENNER !!” said the chap in the padded jacket, showing the barmaid his scratch card. That’s excitement you don’t get in a micro pub.
Romanian craft bars were OK, but it was good to get back in an English boozer where they play deep cut Abba you don’t recognise, rather than deep house.
But you only take so much padded jacket.
*Send us a stamped addressed envelope and a picture of your cat and I’ll send you a mini review. If you must.