“Write about a day trip you’d recommend”, said Dave.
Well, where else to start but Dover ? Best known for these,
but I was rather charmed by the seafront. And the hills.
Disparaged by Bill Bryson in “Notes from a Small Island“, it’s a rambling, slightly shabby town with more character than your Stratfords and Southwolds, and the walk to the well-preserved castle is a joy.
Some attractive pubs where you might get a proper Doom Bar, or even Courage Best.
But ultimately Dover is a cut price Ramsgate, packed with cheerful micropubs.
I really enjoyed the Thirsty Scarecrow, which was demonstrating why Childrens Services have a harder time here than in Maidenhead.
Mr Thirsty playfully tried to get a child to take those first tentative steps into the world of adult bar snacks.
“Go on ! Try a pickled egg ”
“Noooo !” screamed the toddler.
“What about scratchings ?”
The Lanes (sadly now closed) catered to a more mature drinker, and wouldn’t appeal to the Sam Smiths fan, but wouldn’t offend the PubMan.
All sorts of non-beery banter, from a review of the relative merits of Fred Olsen and Royal Carribean cruise lines (the posh table) to the joys of San Miguel on the other.
But rarely have I had such a genuine welcome in a pub, or felt such a sense of contentment from the regulars. I asked the landlord to recommend a beer (Tonbridge Pale, NBSS 4), and was grateful to get a clear steer, rather than that “Depends what sort of beer you like” flannel.
They even shook my hand on the way out; possibly in recognition of my rate of consumption, but more likely because they’re just lovely folks.
My favourite pub, though, is the Spoons, one of the “lively at 9am” ones you lot love.
Great view to the formalwear shop from the beer garden.
The Old Dairy beers here were superb (NBSS 4). Grab the seat by the coffee machine for the best fun.
For your essential craft, Breakwater Tap is quite a pleasant place to drink, with a good buzz aided by “Fox on the run” and “Since you been gone” booming away. (I’m not joking).
But the beer was a bit thin, so best stick to the Strongbow.
Oh, you want entertainment ?
I brought Matt to Dover recently to see some Californian hardcore in the old Port Booking Office. At 17 he was one of the oldest lads there.
At the interval your hero, some 37 years older than the average stagediving local nipped out for a half in the Cinque Ports., only accessible by clambering over a flyover. It reminded me of a scarily isolated pub in Barking Docks that once made the Guide.
Two unused handpumps so I have a half of Fosters, the crafties’ choice. I’m the only one not standing at the bar, discussing Strictly, domestic disputes, and undercooked broccoli at the GBBF.
I get up to go, and realise my elbow is stuck to the table. Then I try to exit from the locked door. BRAPA style embarrassment.
“Bye” someone shouts. Everybody hates a tourist.
I think you’re best off finishing the night with a kebab.
ALWAYS go for the one called “The Best Kebab and Pizza”, eh ?