9th January 2020
Surrey. Underrated county, overrated beer, BRAPA-unfriendly pubs in waiting.
Fourteen new entries in GBG 20, the usual mix of Michelin stars, micros and posh mummies and daddies.
Great Bookham is a pleasant but safe bit of suburbia next to the mighty Leatherhead, but it does have Box Hill and a string of National Trust piles to keep it company, which is nice.
The village is home to two famous Britons.
Referee Ray Lewis, the “Great Booker from Great Bookham” achieved a UK record of 1,237 bookings and 85 red cards over a 24 year career, though VAR may yet upgrade some of those yellows.
There was also some prog rock chap from the ’70s, but his last number 1 was in 1979.
Stafford Paul will have more interest in the Hodgsons’ tiling on the Old Crown.
The Anchor is the classic gentlefolk pub, right down to the font beloved of Home Counties Courage pubs since 1962.
Surrey pulls this sort of pub off perfectly, from the opening on the dot of 11:30, to the padded seats,
to the roaring but unnecessary fire,
to the weird homemade homebrew clip.
to the classic Courage and Pride range.
Actually, I say it was open on the dot of 11:30 but the venerable Landlady described opening times as “loose” these days, which was what us pub tickers want to hear.
The other thing with Surrey pubs is I always fail to have enough coins ready in my hand to pay, particularly after a week of £1.50 or £1.75 being plenty.
The Courage was a flat 2.5, OK but hardly Doom Bar standards, and the only sound a crackling fire and the inevitable phone calls from Colonels to book lunch, which looked splendidly unpretentious.
Perfectly pleasant, though it left me with a nagging feeling I’d been before.
A feeling confirmed when I opened up my giant spreadsheet a day later and realised I’d been here before the internet. Poor record keeping, but I’ll live.