25th February 2020
The actual last Wiltshire GBG pub was a couple of miles from the honeypots of Melksham and Chippenham, in the suburbs of Corsham. You’ll remember the joy the Flemish Weaver gave me last year with its “winter hours” definition.
I arrived in tiny Neston after one of the rare sunny days this year (it’s raining again this weekend) under dramatic skies.
Wiki only tells me one fact about Neston; the Fullers family, of Tokyo Pride fame, came from Neston Park.
10 minutes till 6pm opening at the almost eponymous inn; time to find the eerie church and a potential micropub conversion project.
The Neston Country Inn (what’s wrong with trad names like Bouncing Barrel ?) gives nothing away.
Two South Africans, our publican heroes, are running around stoking fires and tidying the bar as I push the door to at 18:01.
They seem genuinely pleased to see me; that’s not always the case.
I ask them how long they’ve been here.
“The country, or the pub ?”
The pub, of course, I’m intrigued by how long it takes to get in the GBG.
Perhaps they’ve only recently gone LocAle. Perhaps they only had their first NBSS scores from a local member 2 years ago. Perhaps it’s just their turn (joke).
Anyway, the Stonehenge is crisp and cool and looks immaculate, and I score it a 3.5 to single handedly keep it in the GBG for 2022.
The Landlady chats about weather and real fires, and I marvel at her ability to make a pub look so effortlessly simple and unmodernised despite relying on food.
Right on cue a couple of local husbands and wives tip up for their tea; the first pint of Box Steam is already being poured.
“I’ve dropped a spike in my toploader” says the Landlady, to much merriment.
I know nothing about beer, and still have no idea what that means, but I do hope it’s not a euphemism. I return my gaze to the fire.
ICYMI, here’s that Wilts glory again.