Church House Pub, Sutton, May 2019

We have been staying at Jarman Farm in Sutton again, with regular MOFAD companions Karon & John. It was the second outing of Mrs MOFADs shiny new camping machine. The weather hasn’t been kind this weekend, so we’ve been straight out to the pub each night.

It’s a pub that we are familiar with, having been three times in 2016 when we were staying at Jarman Farm over two weekends. It’s a lovely village pub, friendly and welcoming, and with great food and drink, so it’s a very easy choice to decide to come back, even though there are several other pubs within walking distance. If a pub is good, why risk going somewhere else that might be less good?

We came here three nights in a row, over a rather soggy and cold Whitsun bank holiday weekend. The usual drill of decent walks during the day (with the added challenge of waiting for the rain to stop on Sunday morning) and then dinner in the pub. It was not weather for sitting around chatting on the camp site, so it was a weekend of early nights.

On to the pub and the meals then. Friday night saw hunter’s chicken (a pub classic) with chips and token salad (sad iceberg), followed by a deliciously gooey chocolate brownie. Liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch (a lovely cask pint) and Silk of Amnesia from nearby Storm Brewing Co, a classic caramel bitter.

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On Saturday night, we were back at the same table, this time tucking into the classic burger and chips with token salad (sad iceberg), and a decent apple crumble. This time last year it would have been way too hot for a crumble, and we were tucking into strawberry pavlovas at The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook. A warm crumble was very welcome on a dull night.

Liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch again, and Exmoor Gold, a simple malty golden ale.

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Sunday was very much a day of rain. We waited for it to stop. It didn’t stop. We drove out to Alderley Edge (the actual edge, not the bit where all the footballers live). We waited for the rain to stop. It eventually stopped. We went out for a walk, and got a bit more rain for our trouble. The sun did eventually come out towards the end of the day.

Once again we were back at our usual table, and tonight it was the turn of my pub yardstick, gammon. I judge most pubs that serve food by their gammon, because it’s easy to get right, but horrible if you get it wrong. Sadly, it’s another pub where you have to choose between pineapple and egg. I want both. You can have both if you pay an extra £1.50, for a slice of pineapple. No thanks, I could buy a huge pineapple for that. A lovely piece of gammon, a perfect egg, chips and peas. And more of that token salad.

Once again, liquid accompaniment was provided by Moorhouse’s Blonde Witch and Exmoor Gold. Not a big turnover on casks this weekend, but they were all in good condition.

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A lovely long weekend in a lovely village pub. I’m sure we’ll be back at Jarman Farm again in a year or two, and we’ll be back here when we do return. A great place to go if you’re staying nearby.

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Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton, July 2018

It’s the classic “first night of holiday” trip to the pub. We are in Yorkshire for a week of camping, and we have the Yorkshire three peaks ahead of us this week, as well as some other, flatter, walks. We decided to stroll down to the village of Ingleton from the camp site, and settled on the Wheatsheaf Inn. It seems that a local couple had also settled on it as their wedding reception venue, as there was a lot of activity out the back, and a large number of wedding guests milling around the bar.

The first pint was a familiar one from across the border, Moorhouse’s Brewery’s Pride of Pendle, full of caramel and malt.

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What to choose to eat when in an unfamiliar pub? Gammon of course, my “go to” dish when trying out a new pub. It was off to a good start before it even arrived, as it was to be accompanied by egg and pineapple. It should always be accompanied by both, never a choice of one or the other. Pineapple has a definite place in savoury dishes, and boo to all those pineapple haters out there (you know who you are). It was also to be accompanied by big fat chips and peas, the classic partners.

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As you can see, it was exactly as advertised, and was really nice. The only let down was the mustard, cheap stuff in a sachet which is never as good as something freshly made. Accompanied by a pint of Gale’s Seafarers Ale, now a Fuller’s beer.

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This was Blandy McBlandface. I swear it was better before they were taken over by Fuller’s but it’s been quite a few years since I had it, so the mind could be playing tricks.

A pleasant town centre pub, just a bit too popular on this particular Saturday night.

The Old Mill Coffee House and Bistro, Chipping Norton, July 2018

A rare thing in more recent times, a breakfast post! It’s been a while since we’ve been out for breakfast, but as we were camping down the road and planning on a mooch around Chippy, we decided to pop in for breakfast/brunch. This place was recommended to us by an RAC employee who Hazel and Matt met yesterday after a minor issue with their Romanian automobile. And by minor I mean their towbar was just moments away from falling off as it hadn’t been installed properly. And that towbar had a caravan attached to it. By some miracle, it didn’t fall off.

A lovely warm day in this currently endless summer found us here in reasonable time for some breakfast/brunch. The staff shuffled a couple of tables around and we had a nice space in the corner, underneath the Velux windows which were open for some breeze, but with their integral blinds (great Velux feature) pulled down to keep the sun out.

Lots of breakfast options to choose from. Full English (usual stuff), Big Breakfast (Full English with another sausage, another egg, black pudding and 2 hash browns), breakfast bap, beans on toast. There are also the usual sandwich/bap/baguette offerings as well as eggs on toast. I opted for the Full English…

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It was a good breakfast (with decent toast – not pictured). Everything cooked perfectly, and all very flavoursome. A lovely little cafe doing good food and tea/coffee etc. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Chipping Norton.

The Plank & Leggit, Sawley, July 2018

This is another of those occasions where we don’t get to choose the pub. We’d been out walking with friends around Shardlow and Castle Donington earlier in the day, and were due to meet more friends here early in the evening. We abandoned the second part of our walk due to the scorchio temperatures and headed to the pub early. Normally this is a cause for celebration. In the case of a Greene King “IPA” establishment, it’s a cause for lime and soda.

So we sat back with some refreshing not-beer, and planned some future walks whilst waiting for other friends to arrive. When they began to arrive, I headed to the bar to order food, and another tasty pint of lime and soda.

Tonight’s dinner was “Route 66”, a burger topped with cheese, BBQ pulled pork rib meat, 2 hash browns and a free-range fried egg. Reasonable fodder, nothing special. Enough to replace lost calories afer a warm walk in the heat of the day…

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Another of those pub visits where you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered here each week.

Buddy’s Restaurant, Albufeira, Algarve, October 2017

Albufeira, the Skegness of the Algarve. As you approach the area, you come through lovely countryside, and some nice old buildings. This soon deteriorates as you get to a tribute version of any tacky English seaside town, somewhere where they sport “kiss me quick” hats etc.

Before tourism and package holidays exploded into life in the 1950s and 1960s, farmers who owned areas of land away from the coast where the people with the money in this area. Land by the coast wasn’t viable for farming, so wasn’t worth a lot. When holiday resorts and hotel complexes came knocking, the landowners by the coast were suddenly sitting on a goldmine, and they were the people with the money.

Goodbye characterful area, hello to identikit hotels with pools surrounded by sunbeds, and pubs serving a full English breakfast all day every day. That’s not really what I want when I’m going on holiday, I want something that is different to what I can find at home.

This is the dichotomy of Albufeira. Keep things like they were, and nowhere near as much tourist trade comes your way. Ruin your town, and your local economy produces enough money to support your population. A tough call.

A very philosophical start to a quick blog post about a club sandwich and some chips, in one of those aforementioned bars which doesn’t appear to have anything reflective of local culture. Maybe the token olive on a cocktail stick feels slightly local, but I don’t think the Portugese nation was built on chips, sliced white and club sandwiches.

This was essentially fodder for the rest of the day, nothing special, just enough to fill a hole.

If you’re coming to the Algarve, don’t come to Albufeira.

Skipton Park Guest O’tel, September 2017

On our previous visit to Skipton, we stayed at Fawlty Towers. This was due to the late nature of our booking, so we didn’t have a lot of choice.

This time, we had choice. We booked Skipton Park Guest O’tel (their abuse of English, not mine), back in October 2016 whilst we were in Southwold. It looked quirky, but in a good way.

We arrived not long after lunch on Friday afternoon, and were met by Jenny, one of the owners, who gave us an effusive welcome and explained everything about the hotel in forensic detail.

We were out for most of the day, and then up for breakfast on Saturday morning. Hazel & Mrs MOFAD needed fuel for their Yarndale exploits, Matt & I needed fuel for our walking tour of Skipton. This was a decent hotel fry up (a bit more colour on that sausage wouldn’t have gone amiss, but nothing to complain about).

Fast forward a day, and you get something very similar, just with some lightly toastesd toast on the side. All cooked by Ken, who is heard but seldom seen throughout your stay. Lots of very flavoursome ingredients make a cracking hotel breakfast.

After the craziness of Fawlty Towers in 2015, this was an enormous improvement. Lovely breakfasts, perfectly located for Skipton town centre (just  a short walk away, but far enough to be quiet at night) and friendly owners make for a lovely stay. I think we’ll be back next time we come to Skipton for a walking tour.

The Tudor Arms #4, Slimbridge, September 2017

Oh dear. It had all been going so well. After 2 good dinners and a decent breakfast, the wheels came off today. The normal chef had a family matter to deal with, and the relief chef hadn’t turned up to take over. This left a pub full of diners waiting for breakfasts. However, we didn’t find out about this until later on in proceedings. We ordered, we got teas and coffees. No mention of any problems.

An hour later, no sign of breakfast. We were informed that they were prioritising their residential guests first. Shame you didn’t tell us that earlier on. We managed to twist their arms into giving us some more tea and coffee. It shouldn’t have taken arm twisting, and the feeling of “other customers are more important than you” did rather put a dampener on our lovely weekend.

A much sadder offering today, the sign of a kitchen out of their depth and desperate to get plates out. Eventually. A shame things had to end like this, and a shame that they weren’t really interested in trying to treat all of their customers equally.