Real ale sales are going especially well, I was glad to hear. Greene King IPA will shortly be joined by another permanent beer, the unusual (for these parts) Thwaites Original, a fine session ale from Lancashire. Two other pumps feature changing guest beers - Shepherd Neame Spitfire and a super drop of Batemans Valiant on our visit. There are regular deliveries from the Wolf Brewery in Norfolk and beers from Oulton Ales near Lowestoft were very well received. Chris and Kes have noticed that drinkers are very much attracted by the prospect of not knowing what they might find each time they pop in.
Linda had long nurtured an ambition to run a Tea Room and her wish has now been realised. Between 11.30am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, the lounge becomes that tea room, with white tablecloths and a wide range of homemade cakes, sandwiches, light lunches and, of course, different teas in abundance. There's also a children's menu in three sizes - tiddler, toddler and tad bigger. Linda says that the tea room has brought in a lot of people, especially from the village, who hadn't been in for years. And, yes, you can have an alcoholic drink with your carrot cake or greek salad if you wish.
In the evening (except Sunday and Monday) full meals are served. Top of the bill is the homemade Steak and Ale Pie, described on the menu as "not for the faint hearted" and Richard can testify to its enormousness - not eating for 48 hours previously is probably a good idea. The standard menu also includes cottage pie, lasagne (vegetable or beef), curry, mixed grill, rump steak and fish and chips plus daily specials and puddings.
The pub has a lovely garden with a petanque pitch. We've reported in ALE the attempts by the owner of the building to build a house on part of the garden and car park; these have so far been thrown out by the planners because of the threat posed to the pub's viability. The extent to which the car park is now used lends further strength to the arguments against such development.
Running a pub these days is mighty hard work with new obstacles seemingly being erected every few months. However, as Chris, Linda, Ken and Debs have shown, you can make it happen especially if you use imagination and enterprise. What most struck me on my visit though (apart from the quality of the ale) was the sheer friendliness and bonhomie of both staff and customers - it really did feel like a lovely place to be. Highly recommended.