Yes, finally, the report has been cleared by our lawyers and I can bring you unexpurgated details of our trip into Hurtwood Forest and Mrs RM will just have to face the consequences of wearing inappropriate footwear that morning that meant the extent of our walking was a trip to the Royal Oak.
We’d parked overnight in Horsham, managing by 37 seconds to avoid paying to park in the multi-storey, and at 8:15 had our campervan receiving urgent attention for a recalled pop-up, which is less exciting than it sounds.
After several complimentary coffees and cookies, Alan at Sussex Campervans told us the solar panel on the roof wasn’t working, conforming my theory that the sun wasn’t working, and we took a complimentary car (a Skoda, since the petrol heads will ask) into the Surrey Hills.
Like micropubs, which fall into 3 categories (high table round the wall ale houses/small suburban cocktail bars/crafty places), GBG Surrey seems to comprise 3 distinct types. The edgy edge-of-London boozer (Staines, Woking, Shepperton), the ancient town selling supplies for Box Hill (Dorking, Reigate), and the destination gastropub in the hills.
Fairly clear where the Royal Oak sits.
Even with an outside Gents.
We actually managed 20 minutes stroll on the slopes before 11:00 opening, at which point Mrs RM headed for the seat nearest the fire.
The village is alive with the sound of tradesman; thatchers, plasterers, electricians, Ocado delivery vans; several of whom pop in to give orders for their lunchtime burgers. It’s like being in my front room, though RetiredMartin Towers doesn’t yet have a beamed bar.
Or a collection of Ouzo bottles. Perhaps that will be Mrs RM’s next project.
Surrey gastropubs aren’t normally fun, but the Royal Oak is smaller and less fussy than expected, the soundtrack is “She Loves You” and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme” and a young landlady is incredibly chatty, which I like. Where you from ? Where you going ? Have you seen the brewery ? etc etc.
I’d seen the on-site brewery, and felt compelled to get Mrs RM to do a taste test against the Shere Drop.
“One of these is made in that shed outside, Mrs RM. Which one is it ?”.
But she just drank them and focused on her French IT complainer. To be honest, the Felday was very decent, almost Harvey’s-ish, but the Shere Drop had the edge in a couple of 3.5s.
A chap from Oxshott came in with sunglasses on his head; they’re surgically attached at birth in Guildford, and within five minutes our landlady knew EVERYTHING about his possible house purchase in the village.
If I was daft enough to part with £1.2 million to buy a 2 bedroom cottage miles from anywhere I’d like there to be a village pub as friendly and unfussy as the Royal Oak, rather than a Brunning & Price.
Now, before we press on, take note of this painting of Winston.