The second new GBG pub on our trip was what we tickers call “an irritating b****r“.
Not just because Bishop’s Castle is tucked so far away from civilisation (well, Newtown).
I just KNEW we’d been in the Castle Hotel before; we must have done the whole town (1,630 souls, six pubs, 347 coffee shops) back in the ’90s. But the Castle wasn’t in the Guide then, and therefore it’s omission from The Spreadsheet rankled with me.
As is now necessary, I’d done my research to establish it was open, would serve us, and didn’t require us to eat.
But we decided that we WOULD eat, healthily of course, and were directed to the top of a landscaped garden I would confidently place in my Top 5 beer gardens (see also : Duke of Cumberland, Henley, West Sussex).
The downside is being seated where you don’t want to sit, so you can’t quite hear the conversation on Table 5 about pashmina futures markets in Halifax (poss. misheard) or see the top of the Mynd. But as a spot for lunch your Mum/Aunt/Sis would love it.
You’re also not allowed to visit the bar, unless you put your hand up and ask teacher if you can go to the loo, which I did after eating my healthy (but dull and pricey) lunch.
The nice lady with the plastic visor had read out a long list of “ales“; I’d heard Clun and Tuns and had those. Mrs RM had the lion’s share and found them “nice”, and she’s a self-accredited beer somellier.
All your pale favourites. Nice and cool and immaculate looking, if a bit sweet and floral for me.
Mrs RM wanted to go to sleep, but I made here walk the whole of Bishop’s Castle. It’s only a couple of streets and one of them is downhill.
Look how the houses look like your favourite dolly mixtures.
The highlights are the houses made out of jigsaw pieces bought over Offa Dyke in the famous jigsaw shop in Hay on Wye.
In Yarborough House, the famed bookshop/greetings card emporium/cafe we wondered whether face coverings were necessary as we asked for excellent coffees. The scowl on the faces of the vast family who crowded round the counter, a bigger offence, suggested they were.
A lady from the shop next door came in with a pashmina a customer had left, enquiring whether she’d popped in for cards for National Pashmina Day or something.
“It was a lady with auburn hair, with a Brummie accent” she said, hopefully.
“Well that narrows it down” we agreed. Finding someone without a Brummie accent would be harder.
A delight, whatever you think of the homebrew, speaking of which;
The pubs aren’t posh, Castle apart, and you’ve even got TWO Indian restaurants and a recommended Chinese takeaway and chippy. Even Waterbeach can’t match all that.
The only thing missing on this visit was an appearance from my Cat of the Year for 2016, which seemed to live about here;