I thought it wise write a blog before the economically inactive amongst us are forcibly sent to pick potatoes in Lincolnshire.
There are plenty of economically inactive people in Surrey. You can tell by the number of Bentleys and Jaguars in people’s drives. But despite its proximity to Smart-on-Thames, the town of Ashford is not like that. It’s slightly scruffy and the only pub I saw on my way to the new Good Beer Guide entry had long since closed. Whatpub lists only 4 others (in a town of 27,000 people).
The above pic is one of 67 in the UK (Wimpy not the Fiat Doodah). There used to be more than 500 till MacDonald’s marched in, all fanfare, fries and flurries.
The King’s Head is a Marston’s diner though it felt more pubby than most in their rapidly expanding new build empire. With 5 more to do in Surrey then a train journey across London, I had secured pole position at noon ahead of a few old boys who were cheerfully exchanging belches. A friendly welcome was accompanied by Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard and a decent enough glass of Saddleback (3.8%) at £1.40 to get off the mark.
Onwards to Staines where I made a mistake in the rather more venerable Old Red Lion with a distinctly sharp beer called a Passing Time, brewed to co-incide with the Six Nations rugby.
There followed several miles on foot punctuated by two buses, sliding through Laleham – an upmarket eatery that serves Hog’s Back TEA in great condition at £2.25 a half- then Sunbury-on-Thames followed by Walton-on-Thames. The White Horse in Sunbury felt like a boozer and the Twickenham Naked Ladies (4.4%) positively sparkled.
By the time I got across London to Eltham it was getting dark. There was not enough time or light here to do justice to its host of attractions that include a Spiritualist church and a Dixon of Dock Green-like police station, though sadly no longer the Frankie Howerd club. The Rusty Bucket keeps good house. Spurning the “hoppy cider” my 3.8% Siren Yulu was super fresh and tasty.
I would have stayed longer but had to race to Lewisham for a quick half of Volden’s Session in Sutton’s Radio, a Antic pub as you may have guessed, then meet pal DJ in the Real Ale Way in Hayes (Kent). It is by the station (geddit?) and they now have a sister pub in Westerham. All Kent beers in here to stimulate a post-work crowd, including a goodie from Cattle Shed, which appears to be an Old Dairy Brewery project.
Final stops of the day were the Guide-listed Spoons and a newish micropub, both in Selsdon. We had two contrasting beers in the Spoons, mine in good nick, DJ’s verging towards vinegar. A few doors down lies the Golden Ark run by a lovely Colombian woman and her English partner. Martin Taylor, the well known blogging advocate of micropubs, had commended it and he was spot on.
We had all four cask beers between us and took two away, all in great condition. We would have taken part in the quiz but were a day late. However we had a stab at this which had been left from the night before. All the answers have the word van in them. How many can you get?