Mrs RM has just put the Christmas tree up. No, I lie, she’s put TWO Christmas trees up, having just bought a second. November is turning into a BAD month.

No pubs since the 4th, of course, and my tentative plans to pop to Cornwall for a few quick socially distanced halves prompted an irate son of Kernow (I presume) to scream “Get off my land, plague bringer“.

From the latest figures it’s fairly clear the Covid rates in South Cambs are pretty much the same as in Cornwall and the imaginary Isle of Wight. AND we all know the South Cambs rate is skewed by the trolley lickers of Bar Hill.

But I’m not going to complain about the new Tier system; Kentish Paul does that much more eloquently here.

I’m sure there’s a prize if you can identify Paul’s “takeaway only” pub.

My in-law, down the lane from Paul, s are LIVID about Royal Tunbridge Wells being lumped into the same tier (3) as Sheppey and Maidstone.

I don’t think they’ve actually ever BEEN to Sheppey, but they know it’s not something you want to be lumped with.

Not that they’d have been going up their lane to the Imperial for a pint, but that’s not the point.


Anyway, I’m not going somewhere I’m not wanted; I had a miserable reception in Cornwall in August.

No, I’ll go where I’m welcome, to the terrific Tier 2s, and stick some money in their tills.

With a bit of luck there’ll be a few menus like this one at the King’s Head in Essex so I’m not skint by Christmas.

I’m making little lists of pubs by county. This is Surrey;

Before I set off in the campervan I’m checking opening times, minimum (yes, MINIMUM) group size and ID requirements.

And wouldn’t you know it, first on that list is my old friend, Brunning & Price

At least there’ll be open. No £1.99 meals in Oxted, I guess. And will they really want me hogging a table for an hour in December when I could have been in and out in 15 minutes if they were Tier 1 ?


      1. Oxted is in a great piece of countryside near Limpsfield Common and The Ridge, so I’m looking forward to the visit. Terrifyingly close to my in-laws near Tunbridge Wells and the horrors of Kent’s Tier 3 plague lands though !

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Need to find somewhere that counts a 4 hour+ Tapas tasting/grazing menu for (say…) £3.99pp as a substantial meal. I honestly don’t know how long I can make a rapidly cooling Spicy Thai Basil Rice (Chicken) last, but I’m jolly well going to find out…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny thing is that much of the attention is being paid to how long you can stay in a pub drinking before or after a meal, while for me and other tickers it’ll be more about how quickly the food comes so we can get out of the pub !

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d kill for an afternoon in front of the stove in the Devonshire in Belper with my Domino buddy. A pint here, pint there crawl has very little appeal at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Embarrassment of riches in Belper. Tough choice for the local branch, the greatest concentration of truly outstanding pubs I’ve found anywhere. Though I’m not very well travelled these days…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve never really noticed great pubs in Belper itself, compared to the gems in Openwoodgate, Bargate and Holbrook etc, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was good beer and cheer.


      4. Mark,
        I don’t know the Devonshire in Belper but the Devonshire Arms at Peak Forest was where I first drank Wards in September 1972 and I got in the Devonshire Arms in Hartington quite a few times when that was a good pub about thirty years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Chatting about tactics should our area drop to Tier 2 anytime soon and it’s likely that the substantial meal will be bolstered by frequent top ups of very cheap and cheerful chips for as long as required. As long as there’s one remaining on the plate, the meal ain’t over.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m sure the Isle of Wight exists. I went there once, or so I thought. A year ago gone March I sailed round what looked like it on a warship. Can’t be sure though – might have been clouds. Anyway, your top county is in Tier 3 and we’re rather unhappy. The Tynemouth Lodge is unlikely to sell Bass again until Spring, along with many other proper pubs. I’ve been up to see some friends at a Newcastle brewery this afternoon who are doing takeouts and deliveries and they’re going to weather the storm. Many can’t. It’s all very dystopian. I’m thinking of moving. I hear the Isle of Wight is nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You thought wrong. And even if you did go there, the buses are so bumpy you wouldn’t have remembered anything about it. It’s probably Petersfield you’re thinking of.

      YOU’RE rather unhappy. I’m livid, only had a few in Tyne & Wear, though I suspect they didn’t all do food (too depressed to look).


    2. Martin’s pics give me the perfect excuse to post “Grow Fins” again, but since the festive season is upon us, how about this?

      Why, it even has sleigh bells…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “November is turning into a BAD month.”

    Looking at the map; how the bloody hell can remote northern Scotland be worse than remote Cornwall? And where did the Isle of Man go (and NI for that matter).

    “But I’m not going to complain about the new Tier system”

    With regards to the ‘list’ above. Did they just throw darts at a board to generate that?

    “Kentish Paul does that much more eloquently here.”

    I shall have to take a look.

    “I don’t think they’ve actually ever BEEN to Sheppey, but they know it’s not something you want to be lumped with.”

    (small golf clap)

    “With a bit of luck there’ll be a few menus like this one at the King’s Head in Essex so I’m not skint by Christmas.”

    LOL! Something similar was done in NYC when the powers that be there mandated you had to have food with a drink!

    “minimum (yes, MINIMUM) ”

    Crickey! Didn’t know it was like that! Over here I think we only have a maximum (6 usually). Of course, that is ‘supposed’ to be from one household, but already (across the country) we’ve had photos crop up of mayors completely ignoring their own pious blabberings. (sigh)

    “And will they really want me hogging a table for an hour in December when I could have been in and out in 15 minutes if they were Tier 1 ?”

    They should consider a ‘drinks only’ table or some such. Si got treated to that at the Alice Hawthorn in Nun Monkton.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for you in a few days.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. The Isle of Man is one of those odd Crown dependencies that govern themselves, rather than being told what to do by the UK Parliament. Lucky them. Their pubs are back to normal, but I’m not allowed over there (essential business only). Probably the same in the Channel Islands.


      2. “Quite a stark political divide in Canada, although compared with other countries they’re quite polite about it.”

        That map is… pretty accurate I would say.

        – that huge red/orange blob way up north are our three territories; Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. They are not provinces and as such get the bulk of their money from the federal government (e.g. they don’t pay for their own healthcare like provinces do, it’s completely funded by the federal government). Hence, their desire to keep the money flowing. 🙂

        – the big blue blob on the left is Saskatchewan, Alberta and the eastern portion of British Columbia. That’s where the oil and gas industry is, along with some mining (e.g. potash and uranium in Saskatchewan) as well as large rural swathes

        – the red bit on the far left is all of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, as well as most of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Small populations, no major industry (maybe oil for Newfoundland), so dependant on the federal government via the equalisation payments

        – all of the orange bits are the NDP (New Democratic Party). They firmly believe everything should be done by the government and everyone should be in a union (i.e. give us all your money and we’ll dole it out equally!)*

        – as for the light blue, sigh, that’s Quebec. I would liken them to Scotland perhaps? Itching to be out from under the thumb of the Rest of Canada but never quite getting there (we’ve had two national referendum votes with regards to them leaving Canada and going it on their own).

        Note that these are my own opinions. 🙂


        * – to be fair, BC (where I live) has an NDP provincial government. And I think they’ve done a pretty good job (so far) with regards to Covid. 😉


    1. As Mudgie just said, that’s the English system. I’m not even allowed to visit Wales (a bloke travelling from Essex was sent back at the border yesterday) and Duncan isn’t allowed to leave his home area so visiting Scotland is also out of the question.

      I think there’s some logic to the Tiers, it takes in age of population and hospital capacity etc, but counties like Kent and Derbyshire see the posh bits suffering for the “sins” of the disadvantaged.

      When I read you comments, Russ, I always wonder if you’ve pick up enough from Simon, Duncan and my posts to get a rounded picture of the UK. Cause I have NO idea which are the posh/run-down/ethnic/most right-wing areas of Canada, for example. Where is Canada’s Southend ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. Thoughts to ponder.

        I mentioned this to my darling wife and we both feel that Canada is a bit too big land wise, and too small population wise, to be as definitive as areas of the UK are.

        But, off the top of my head:

        – the posh bits are certain parts of our major cities, as well as some enclaves on both coasts (i.e. some of the islands in BC and some areas in the smaller eastern provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I (Prince Edward Island)

        – run-down would be again, parts of our major cities, as well as the smaller eastern provinces (not much industry, small population)

        – ethnic would be centred around the major cities (possibly due to government largesse?)

        – right-wing would be the rural areas (somewhat like the US)

        As for Southend, no bloody idea.

        Oh, and as for being the butt of jokes, that would be Newfoundland. 🙂


        PS – I guess a good way to see which areas are doing better would be to look at our equalization payments.


        Basically the Federal government takes money from those provinces doing well, and doles it out to those that aren’t. And don’t ask me how bloody Quebec gets in there every year (sigh).


      2. Some wag recently noted that the North American continent above Mexico could be neatly divided into two, with a bit of border shifting.

        That would be “The United States Of Canada” and “Jesusland”.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t see that many pubs in Tier 2 except for those that are effectively restaurants anyway being so busy that they need to impose a minimum group size.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree, but problem is that most of new Surrey entries are effectively restaurants. And the first Oxfordshire pub I looked at had a minimum table of 2 when I tried to book for next week.


      1. In the two weeks we had around here of the old Tier 3 before the lockdown, most of the general-purpose pubs that sold some food closed down. It was really only Spoons and the dedicated dining pubs that stayed open.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it’s far too much effort to have a chef and waiter for half a dozen £8 dishes.

        Our local, the Sun, notionally serves food but in practice it seems to be a lasagne and pie every Friday at 6pm for an old couple on their weekly pub trip. They plan to re-open next week so be interesting to see their solution; next door there’s a new pizzeria we wondered if they could collaborate with.


      3. In cases where there is a minimum of two punters, could you not book for two and then rock up with some excuse as to why the second person isn’t there. Say they’ve been arrested or your friend who lives alone that you provide a support bubble for has been put in self isolation? Anything like that, will be difficult to prove otherwise and I doubt they would turn you away to leave the table empty.

        Looking on that map, I hadn’t realised how big Slough actually is.

        Just please, I know it is hard, make the most of your COVID League Division 2 status. You never know when you might be relegated. If I am going to be limited to my local area, I want to see those of you with that little extra freedom making hay whilst the sun shines.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There is one entry, and not always the same one. Ideally I’d want to do all of them on a trip to avoid the horror of a different one entering the next Guide (as happened in Bute and Alderney).


  5. Thanks for the mention Martin, and also for the link back to my post on the absurdities behind the Tier system.

    You, and many of your correspondents have already said most of what I would have come up with, so I haven’t got much else to add. What I will say is there are some splendid examples of gallows humour this morning, including the Boris menu, but pride of place must surely go to that “Welcome to Sheerness” poster!

    I’m assuming that not everyone knows the story behind the USS Montgomery, or the threat that the increasingly unstable munitions, stored in her submerged holds, poses to the town, but that mermaid has a real look of determination on her face.

    Pure and unadulterated black humour, but it’s really put a smile on my face this rather dull and grey November morning!

    Liked by 1 person

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