When people talk with moist eyes of the English country pub, they’ve usually got somewhere specific in mind — a place which greeted them like old friends; which had an open fire; good food; low ceilings; and fresh, tasty beer. Cosy is the word that usually gets trotted out.
Sadly, not many country pubs live up to that ideal, especially out of season. One pub we visited in Cornwall last week seemed pretty typical of the reality.
We walked into the gloom and were struck by the smell of damp carpet and the chilly feel of the air.
The place was large (with seats for more than 100 people, at a guess) but almost empty. There was just one old man sat at the bar with a dog asleep at his feet. The only light was what made it through the small, dusty windows, and from the flickering mp3 jukebox.
The beer was actually spot on, although it did take a couple of attempts to find a pump clip that wasn’t purely decorative (“Ain’t got that ‘cept in bottles”). The landlord wasn’t unfriendly but nor did he look especially pleased to see us. Why should he? Our £5.20 wasn’t much of a contribution to a miserable winter weekday’s takings.
We sat on damp red velvet seats underneath foxed, curling pictures of local sporting teams and chains of dusty horse brasses for as long as it took us to finish our pints in seemly fashion and escaped into the fresh air.
Not so much cosy as bloody bleak.