The next leg of our Kent trip saw a pass the parcel session in the micropubs of Sheerness, the parcel being the Maltmeister and myself. Definitely excess postage involved.
Sheerness is an interesting place. It’s the most populated town on the Isle of Sheppey, bridged to the north coast of Kent. 40,000 people live in 36 square miles.
Sheppey hosted a Royal Navy Dockyard for nearly 300 years, the closure of which signalled a decline in prosperity. It also enjoyed popularity as a resort but doesn’t really feel like a holiday island, especially on a windy November night, though there are still some people who rent or own caravans and return every year.
Famous former residents include Richard Beeching- he who savaged Britain’s railway network. Ironically one of Sheppey’s station closed before his own axe work but one survives. And Rod Hull, who found fame manipulating an emu.
Pic: The Herald
Our first stop was the Flying Sheep, run by Amanda (pictured above) and her partner, the magnificently named Smutley, in her former hairdressing salon. Different kinds of clips feature there now. We had the 3.7% Iron Pier Perry Pale, my second encounter with the impressive Iron Pier brewery, from Gravesend
Smutley asked if we were going to “A Wise Man” and after asking him three times I dimly understood it was A Y’s Man, another micro. “Tell Debbie that Amanda sent you” so we did.
It might indeed have been by the beach but it was pitch black round there so we had to take their word for it. Inside was a small, brightly lit bar with less of an obvious beer vibe than Amanda’s.
Debbie was a welcoming host who has moved here from Bedfordshire and who pulled a decent drop of Wansum Dynamo. She then asked if we were going to the Heritage in Halfway. Oh no another micropub, apparently the first on Sheppey. “Tell Rose that Debbie sent you” she called after us, so we did.
Told you it was dark
A pub on two levels with local beers from Old Dairy and High Weald, and an evidently brisk trade in cider.
The Maltmeister counts his money
She asked where we were going next and we told her we were finishing in Sittingbourne. “Tell Donna that Rose sent you” so we did.
By this stage we were offering to do deliveries as required (I once delivered an empty cask to a pub in Somerset in vaguely similar circumstances).
So we left the island, missing out two other micros we had been to before, otherwise the relay would have become a marathon.
Donna’s was filled with the politest and most courteous chapter of Hell’s Angels it’s possible to find.
Sadly there are no surviving photos or notes to out them.