I spent Saturday afternoon having a solo pootle (or was it a bimble?) around the pubs of Falmouth.
You know those pubs that look ‘rough’ until you get close and see the ancient peeling Good Beer Guide stickers, and realise they’re just ‘eccentric’? That’s the Seven Stars. I headed for the narrow front bar because that’s where everyone seemed to be. I got a couple of nods of greeting, someone called me ‘boy’, and space was made for me at the bar.
On the back wall were several casks on stillage and I was torn between Bass (slowly becoming an obsession of ours) and Oakham Citra, but the desire for the whizz-bang-wow of the latter won out. Despite being served on gravity with no obvious cooling system, it was in damn near perfect nick.
As she served me, I asked the barmaid under my breath: ‘Where can I perch that I won’t be stealing anyone’s seat or be in the way?’ She looked around and replied cheerfully, ‘Sit where you like — they’ve had some Bass now, they should be OK.’ Should? What did that mean?
I shrank into a corner and pretended to read while eavesdropping and glancing around the bar. Politics were discussed, conspiracy theories about the missing Malaysian airliner shared, and affectionate insults traded. ‘Any chance of getting bloody drunk any time soon?’ shouted an enormous bloke waving an empty glass at the barmaid, who told him to calm down.
The walls were covered in photographs, trinkets and gewgaws evidently collected over the course of decades, faded by the light and stained with nicotine. I wanted to take a photo, but there was no ambiguity: mobile phones are STRICTLY forbidden. One was nailed to the wall just to underline the point.
I wasn’t, to be honest, quite comfortable. Elbows kept finding their way into my back, and I felt like a tourist. Not entirely reluctantly, I moved on after one pint.
But here’s a funny thing: four pubs later, I found myself thinking that I’d made a mistake. None of the others (Beerwolf, Five Degrees West, the Front and the Oddfellows Arms) had the depth of the Seven Stars, even though they were all good in their own way. The best pubs aren’t always the easiest.
There are more photos of Falmouth pubs in this gallery.