At the first pub there’s a piano in the window but no one to play it. The seats are filled with ghosts. A long pew is adorned with individually wrapped cushions, resembling a bum-friendly box of Mr Kipling cakes. It’s quiet, the fireplace glows warm and friendly, everything is cosy and snug. Welcome to Pete’s Retreat. “We’ll be at home here, let’s get a pint.”
Much as we could stay forever we’ve a long crawl ahead so off we march off towards The Plum Tree Arms. We’re first in so grab the dominoes and two pints of Wold Top Bitter. The artefacts and fittings come from pubs past and present, and from beside the 1910s till Geoff pours with skill. He quickly challenges us to a game of Yorkshire darts. With no trebles to help us we don’t fancy our chances!
Next up is the modern wooden doors of The Tranters Arms. It’s the antithesis of our first stop, walls like a flat pack sauna and an uncompromisingly purple pool table sitting squarely in the middle of the main room. Tall silver fonts peer over a fussball table, a darts board (regular this time). It’s a back garden sports bar. Only one thing for it, let’s sink a cool lager.
The Magpie, sat deep in hop country, in the garden of Kent. Armchairs prevail here, if you can find them beneath the clutter of a hoarding landlord. We slump down and rest amongst the lived-in charms. And then we spot jagerbombs… let the party begin!
Along the twilight air we hear music, and follow the bluegrass tunes to the Gem Saloon. Guitars, double bass and harmonicas light up the night. Folk feet tap, dancing fingers strum, a violin screeches and a banjo jingle-jangles everyone to their feet. There’s food on the hob, the wood burner chugs away, beer flows freely. Under the hazy yellow glow of oil lamps everyone is free, everyone is in a better place.
Our night ends at The Cool Runnings Rum Shack. We’re running on empty but the shutters are open wide (do they ever close?) and tired eyes find new legs. Under moonlight we ditch the Red Stripe beer for cocktails and spiced spirits, admiring the graft that’s gone into this personal homage. We and stay up late, prostrate on the grass watching stars roll gently over the impossibly deep sky.
Tags: beer at home, beer garden, british pubs, drinking at home, Garden, sheds
As you might have guessed this pub crawl never happened. The pubs all exist though – each one is a home built castle and has been entered into the pub category of this years Readers Shed’s competition.
Head Sheddie Andrew Wilcox says that over the last two years entrants to the category have risen 20%. Whether it’s because of local pub closures, rising on trade beer prices, the unreliable garden weather or a weak property market, it seems that pubs are the new greenhouses and beer the new wine. “It’s the most contested category” Andrew tells us, “and the majority plump for a traditional pub rather than wine bar.
Whatever the reason, here’s to the landlord sheddies and their DIY Moon Under Waters. And make sure you get your vote in before tomorrow’s deadline – Saturday 16th June Midnight GMT.