Back on the GBG ticking trail in early July, this time from our new Rye base (I only spent 7 nights in Sheffield that month).
Oddly, hardly any quicker to get into the New Forest and Dorset from Rye than Yorkshire.
That drive through the New Forest took us on a gorgeous slow road between Deadman Hill and Black Gutter Bottom, past pigs, ponies and cows towards Cranborne Chase. Clearly animals blocking my route to GBG glory is the theme for 2022.
The Western Downlands are the horsey part of west Hants/east Dorset, home to a village called Martin, the End of the Road Festival and Fordingbridge, one of the dullest places on earth (and believe me, I spend my time looking for them).
Whitsbury (pop. 211) lays claim to training Desert Orchid, who earnt £654,066 in their career, enabling them to retire to Ab Kettleby. And why not ?
The poshest villages have one of these community libraries where you take out a Robert Harris paperback and leave a Robert Harris paperback. The village stocks are still in use for ANYONE who leaves a book by
JK Rowling Jeremy Clarkson.
With 20 minutes till a rare 11am Sunday opening, I had time to The Courier. The Rev’d Les Player is running a course on the use of paragraphs in letters.
Oh look ! The Cartwheel has a literal sign !
AND a prominent board outside with opening times on it.
Which they stick to, even though the Young Barperson looks shocked and surprised as I fly through the door at 10:59 to claim my tick. I think rural gastropubs often have a first hour of opening which is meant to be used for cleaning and writing specials on blackboards, rather than selling beer.
The pub is neat and plain, with the mushroom sculptures the big selling point.
They’re magic, but not in a suspicious way.
I could have told you what sort of pub this was from the cask Three microbreweries, three beers 99.9% of people have never heard of, smart pumps.
But the service was friendly, the Downton Quad Hop a cool, foamy and crisp NBSS 3.5 (best Downton beer ever), and the garden a slopy delight.
But if you’re looking for thrills, a Hampshire gastropub an hour before food service isn’t the place for you.