Last Sunday morning I was planning the journey home from the Premier Inn at Southampton Airport.
The journey back looked startlingly straight, and not just on foot; the A34 really is a marvellous road.
40 minutes after leaving Southampton we were parked up in Overton, whose new GBG pub has defeated me a fortnight earlier. I feel I know the area between Basingstoke and Andover better than the rabbits in nearby Watership Down country.
Half an hour till the Old House at Home (hopefully) opens, just enough time to explore a pleasing linear village (pop. 4,315) with some great tiling, thatching and toy shops.
Not too sure who this lot are, or why they live above the door.
The Old House at Home is one of four pubs (and a club) in Overton, and ticks 87% of my Unfussy Village Pub Checklist (available on request, send 25p Postal Order and S.A.E.).
We’re first in, which is unsurprising as we sneak in just before noon.
Mrs RM takes the seat closest to the bar (excellent work, Mrs RM), and I confirm the bustling Landlady is happy for us to hog a table in the Public rather than being consigned to the restaurant area at the back.
First rule of choosing a beer in a rural pub; always go for the well-known brand. So I pick the local Andwell, don’t I ?
Which is OK, but I suspect not flying out. The first local arrives at 12:05, takes a perch at the bar, and orders a Pepsi (“NOT diet”). He’s chatty, and a good listener, and I learn that confusing the village with Whitchurch up the road (which I did) is a capital offence.
We order from the Thai menu; squid and beef salad and Pad Thai. It’s tremendous.
Pubs with a Thai kitchen are often your best bet for an unfussy meal (see: The Wrestlers in Cambridge, The Plough in Little Downham), and it’s clear we’re not seen as defiling the sacred atmosphere of a boozer as the Old Boys start to come in, all of them clearly despatched by the missus so as not to get in the way of Sunday lunch preparation (or perhaps their church services are just very casual).
If you want to see what make English pubs great, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. Un-sweary but irreverent, full of local dialect (“Stick it on the rabbit, Colin ?”) I’d have said was from farming stock rather than stockbroker belt, and a sense of trade finally returning post-Omicron scares.
The first two locals had a medium Shiraz, the next three had the Proper Job. I quizzed on bloke on the Job as to what he thought about the Andwell and his response was
unprintable “It’s too light“.
So I had a half of the Proper Job; it was marvellously conditioned (NBSS 3.5+). I didn’t want to leave. But if I’d just nipped in for a quick half and left before the Shiraz crowd, I’d have missed out on all the banter and beer. And that’s why BRAPA’s pint + 27.5 minute rule is so sensible.