Saturday, 12 March 2022

At Last, Garswood

Regular readers, if there are any, may have noticed that Garswood has been popping up in the "Coming soon" at the bottom of these blog posts for about six months.  Various reasons including the poor train service, not wanting to walk down narrow country lanes in bad weather, low confidence in opening hours and sheer laziness have caused the trip to be postponed multiple times, but I couldn't waste today's lovely weather so off I headed.

My first destination was the Stag:

The real ale and the welcome has been up and down in here over the years.  I haven't been in since my local friends moved away, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  What I found was a nicely done interior, and four handpumps on the counter.  Three were "coming soon" but the friendly staff had soon poured me a fine pint of Eagle IPA, from Bedford.  One quality cask ale is enough!

About a dozen customers in at half two on a Saturday, gentle chatter forming the main soundtrack.

I tried unsuccessfully to recall the decor last time I was here, in 2015.  Has it been changed since then, or simply very well cared for? It looks good, anyway, with a dark grey and white colour scheme.

Next, on to the Simms Road:

Another one which had suffered intermittent beer quality in the past, but my pint of Landlord was spot on this time, the beer has been good on the last couple of visits.

It doesn't seem to have changed inside since I was last here in 2014, but the pleasant traditional decor has obviously been well maintained.

Quiet music, slightly louder rugby commentary and background chatter combined to give the place a comfortable pubby feel.

Customers were a bit thin on the ground at three on the afternoon, but it was ticking over, and a few meals came out of the kitchen.

My next objective is the most doubtful of the day, the Blue Bell spent some time closed and then became a community pub with limited opening hours, although it has now reverted to being run by a brewery.  Their Facebook page hasn't been updated for some time, so I felt my chances were slim, but it was worth a try as I haven't ticked it since 2004.  Would it be open?

Yes, it was.  After asking if I was from the brewery (She saw me taking a photo.) the landlady followed me inside to pour a pint of Guinness.  I was the only customer.  She bemoaned the lack of trade since COVID, they only took over the place a couple of months before the first lockdown.  Perhaps that's why the brewery want to sell it, she said.  Oh dear.

Plain well cared for decor in a knocked through u-shaped room, with some good woodwork. 

This is the sort of place I fear we will lose over the next year, as the COVID support such as reduced rates, staff furlough and so on, ends.  Come on, folks, support your local, I can only do so much on my own!

One more person came in, but after a chat with the landlady he left again "I must have a pint in here some time" he said as he departed.

Half way down my pint, custom tripled, thank goodness, and then another two came in a couple of minutes later.  They all knew each other and the landlady and, as usual on my research trips I was the odd one out.  I also got the impression I was sitting in their corner, although no one complained!  Ten minutes later there were quite a few in, and I was on the edge of a large group of chatty pals.  So perhaps not quite as doomed as I feared.

Finally, the best pub in Garswood (On previous experience, at least) the Railway - always a reliable source of cask in the past, and convenient for the station as well:

Would it live up to my recollections?  In a word, yes.

"Only" two real ales in here, I had Farmers Blonde, the other was Wainwright.  Mine was spot on.

Quite busy here, with the football commentary completely drowned by lively chatter.  As always, this pub is doing well, lots of blokes, couples, families, oh and one lone pub ticker.  I was the only person in here with no one to talk to!

I looked around.  All the blokes I could see were on lager, I tried to keep an eye on the counter and I didn't see any cask poured.  But my pint was jolly good, so either they're selling enough or they're throwing a lot away.  I suspect the former.

Some kind of "important" footie match started, everyone moved around the pub so they could see a telly. I think it was Man U? Luckily, my corner seat was underneath a TV so I wasn't depriving anyone.  Actually, having written that I noticed the screen above me was showing something different so I think the people looking over my head were rugby fans.

So, quite a good survey, three pints of quality ale and four overdue revisits.  The country roads weren't so bad, they all had pavements on at least one side.  I don't remember that from last time, perhaps they've been upgraded, or more likely my memory is inaccurate.  

What a friendly place Garswood is:  In each pub people said hello to me, and most of the drinkers seemed to know each other.

Pub of the day: Railway
Miles walked: 2.3
Maybe coming soon: Don't know!

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