A month after I contemplated a first visit to Hoddesdon for the first time in a quarter century (football rather than pubs), the Beer Guide sends me there.
Well, Roydon, which is on the edge, in some senses.
Some lovely villages between the “challenging” towns of Hoddy and Harlow, with Roydon having the bonus of a railway station, a Marina and a Country Club for Cats and Dogs.
Three pubs too; must be an evens chance of Doom Bar and creaky beams.
I took a look at the What Pub entry for the New Inn as I walked to the door.
Limited Open Hours.
Mon & Tues Closed
Weds & Thurs 12.00 to 15.00 & 18.00 to 21.00
Fri, Sat & Sun 12.00 to 23.00
It was a Tuesday, of course.
But then I saw the opening hours, on display in the window, and my spirits rose.
Oooh, someone had nipped out and changed the sign.
12:02. I washed my hands, signed in, and nervously approached the bar.
No-one about to stop me in my tracks, insist I sign a form, sit down immediately, stick a quid in the Sally Army box.
12:04. No answer, not even the shuffling of an octogenarian in the back room. All you could hear was Shakira singing about her hips.
I took a photo. Lovely pub, isn’t it ?
Look ! Doom Bar ! I knew it !
My heart leapt for joy. No beers brewed in broom cupboards here.
12:06. “Er, hullo” a little louder. Nothing. Duncan would have poured himself a half by now.
I took a seat. What to do. Head for the kitchen ? Phone them up ? Message them on Facebook ? Go and buy a bell from Argos ?
None of the above. I was patient (Mrs RM won’t believe that), and sat and waited, contemplating the liver and bacon.
12:07. “Oh sorry to keep you”. That’s OK.
12:09. I’d drunk my half of Doom Bar, a nicely dry 3+, and had one of those cheery conversations about mishearing things through masks.
Another couple of gentlefolk (I hit that milestone in 10 years time) came in for what seemed to be a daily trencherman’s lunch, and I thought pubgoing was an entirely lovely and safe pursuit.
Shame our Prime Minister is just about to kill it all off again.