Yesterday I had the great joy of accompanying BRAPA again as he conquered bleeding (green blood) swathes of north Dorset. It’s like following Forrest Gump on his run but you make more loo stops.
On the Monday afternoon I was staying a pub or two ahead of Simon as he attempted to complete the marvellous Matravers two by bus before starting on the Wool/Wareham circuit.
I’d thought about warning the Landlords in the Black Bear and the Horse & Groom to lock up their locals, but what’s the worst that can happen on a BRAPA visit ?
It seemed I was only in Wareham 5 years ago. Actually it was 2016, and little has changed, unless the BrewDog bar and tanning salons were well hidden.
A beautifully located town, feeling more cut off from the real world (Poole ?) than it really is.
I thought I could do the ten minute walk both ways AND get a half in the 40 minutes between trains, but of course you’re obliged to take the same photos you took last time.
The famous King’s Arms looked exactly like it did three years ago, even down to the 2011 POTY banner, and I knew I was daft to resist the Otter (first pint below £4 on my trip). But I did.
A week before half-time, and even with some glorious February sunshine the town was quiet. Or “reflective” as I believe the TIC would call it. A pleasing town to amble and drink too much tea, rather like the Huntingdonshire towns on the Ouse.
Typically, the newbie isn’t the Duke of Wellington as I’d hoped, but a pub I didn’t even notice last time out. The Horse & Groom looks like an unspoilt terraced market town boozer, the best sort.
And inside you get the sense that’s what it was, albeit with Marvin Gaye‘s ’71 classic playing and an understated pub food trade. Bit like the Cambridge Mill Road pubs.
My instinctive impression was “spotless“, which isn’t necessarily what you want your first impression to be, but these things matter.
At the bar the Landlord (I was to discover later) was chatting about brewery trips. Although I don’t know how beer is made, it did at least allow me to be nosy and join the conversation.
In fact, he’d just been to Hattie Browns in Swanage, probably bumping into BRAPA en-route, and their beer was on the bar. But I went for the Palmers.
Good, and cool and all that, but never a beer for the half-pint.
Good chat at the bar with the staff, but I was only joined by another customer just as I left. No point telling Si not to scare the locals, or vice versa.
“Take care mate. Keep well” said the Landlord as I took my glass back and attempted the ten minute walk back to the station in nine.
Nice pub, bit quiet, I thought.
But, just a couple of hours later…