I’m working far too hard, curating this blog. You can find Chopwell yourselves on the map, somewhere between Consett and Chester-le-Street. An intriguing area of coal mines, Cava and clubs.
Where the bus drops you off in Blackhall Mill, note the leg to the sign stolen by a vandal from Vindolanda.
Sadly the Social Club can’t honour its promise of Federation Bitter as it’s closed down.
BUT there’s a bakery/deli/cafe on the riverbank that’s more Clapham than Chopwell, where I join pashmina Durham in sipping piping hot filter coffee and nibbling cheese and ham quiche which is a bit too “eggy”.
The Red House is the new GBG micro, either so named as it’s red, or in homage to Chopwell’s well hidden Communist leanings, or because it was called the Red House in 1832.
I’ve had to book a slot fir for my Beer, my last in Tyne & Wear, and I hate myself for succumbing to this dreadful continental craze of table booking, which also means I’m obliged to actually turn up. ON TIME.
Chopwell is tidy and has the sort of views alien to a Fen lad,
and a small shopping precinct with all your essentials.
On the dot of 4 I stand impatiently at the door, clutching a phone with a booking reference. It all seems pointless, though it gives the gentlefolk of the village who stream in some reassurance the Guvnor takes Covid and social distancing seriously.
The Guvnor clearly takes his beer more seriously than I do, tasting and doubting the quality of my pint of something local (Allendale ?) , which is excellent.
The people who doubt the pints they serve often serve the best pints.
There’s a huge collection of political writing, including the latest version of Norfolk Nips, on the bookshelf.
But the two old lads that come in seem more enthused by discussing the liveliness of the pubs are the hill, before you reach the High Spen micro.
I didn’t push them for preemptive tick predictions.