Just to clarify what I mean by that statement, my family history is littered with examples of great granddads and great great granddads who were pub landlords. When I was little my dad was a sales rep firstly for Babycham (we had a garage full of boxes of cocktail umbrellas as a result which the four year old Jane loved playing with) and then with Crawfords whisky, and as a result and my school holidays were often spent sitting in a pub garden somewhere in the country with a glass of orange squash drunk through a straw, and a packet of crisps – Walkers or Golden Wonder, but always ready salted, whilst dad was in the bar pretending to be working. (Reidski will tell you nothing has changed regarding the crisps – I STILL have ready salted every time – but it has been a while since I have been content with orange squash on a visit to the pub) When I was ten my mum and dad went into their first pub, and they stayed in the licensed trade till they retired.
My dad has an encyclopaedic knowledge of pubs. Where ever I happen to be in the UK he can tell me which pubs I should definitely check out – and his recommendations are always first class...and this coming from a fussy bitch. I can not tolerate a bad pub, and my mind is usually made up about a place within moments of entering the front door. Decor, atmosphere, welcome, cleanliness – all these things are taken in and I always remember that I have a choice about where I spend my money and I won’t stay in a pub that doesn’t feel right. There are so many good pubs that I could be spending time in that I don’t want to waste time and money in ones that do not measure up. Part of the pleasure for me of travelling is to discover new pubs – and Reidksi and I have been in some good ones the past few days my favourite of which was probably this one in Polkerris near St Austell. (Up the road from the Inn is a row of old cottages built by the unpopular Preventative Service to house the riding officers whose job was to patrol the cliffs on horse back to discourage smuggling. As in other seaside places they had to be housed together for their own safety. I love stories like this.)
This is a very long winded way of getting round to saying that I have seen quite a few of the programmes with Oz Clarke and James May travelling around Britain visiting pubs, breweries and distilleries in an effort to identify the quintessential British drink.
My offering would be gin and tonic, but I guess it all depends on where in Britain you happen to be. Obviously many people would go for a good malt whisky, others for a true knock your head off scrumpy, and CAMRA members could argue till eternity over the best British beer. Then there are those for whom this present
(TNR’s ace photo taken in a Glasgow off licence) comprising 20 fags, some roll up papers and a bottle of Buckfast would be the perfect Valentine’s gift.
What’s your favourite British drink?
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