You know that moment in films when the stranger walks into the bar, conversation stops and all eyes turn to look in silence? That’s what it feels like… Not that you are unwelcome in the bar… but you know that you are neither unnoticed nor anonymous. The welcome is assured… as long as you don’t use your mobile phone. They are frowned upon here… and completely out of place.
On a Sunday, there is folk music… but it was Saturday and you never know what to expect. The old door resists entry. I wonder how many have tried that recalcitrant handle and turned away, fearing they intruded upon a private cottage. Inside, summer and winter, a fire blazes. The tiny bar has just a few hand pumps, a few bottled beers on the shelves and a menu that changes with whatever is available. Hand thrown pots with simple, beautiful designs that demand to be loved and used, sit on a rack on the wall. The owner and his wife are potters and this is their craft. If the handful of seats around the old range are not filled with people, they are likely to be filled with lurchers and I have heard of falconers perching their hawks there while they trade bags of game for potent ales.
We don’t come here often… nowhere near as often as we would like… but once, after a year’s absence, when we had ordered a pint of Black Lurcher and a bottle of alcoholic dandelion and burdock, the barman had nodded, “I thought it was you…” It is that kind of place. Stepping through the door into the very small room is not only like stepping into someone’s home, but also like erasing centuries from the march of time. You cannot tell ‘when’ you are.
We managed to find a seat… a couple of spares squished near the inner door… and were glad to simply be there. There is another room, the one where the music is played… a little more spacious, being twice the size of the main bar… but still tiny, looking, with its more elaborate fireplace, like the original parlour of the cottage. The door was closed… and it felt intrusive to even attempt to open it until someone else went to sit in there, after discussing what they had brought for the kitchen. It felt wrong to be sitting in there alone though… antisocial… so we went outside to sit in the sunshine that warmed the old stone instead, while the owner and barman ate nasturtium flowers from the little herb garden.
It is the type of place that gets under your skin. Am I going to tell you where it is? No… they don’t particularly want any publicity. They are busy enough for their needs. But if you are ever in the area, you just have to find it for yourselves…