Once again our brave team of elite tourists have sacrificed themselves, their precious family time and their livers on our behalf, in order to smooth out any potential tour wrinkles for later in the year. Tour Sec Mike Ireland writes:
“Don’t smell it, just put it on your mouth”
Ignoring scepticism regarding the necessity for a second recce, Barford’s fearless band of brothers braved plummeting temperatures and soldiered resolutely towards the east midlands.
After a visit to the Colston Bassett Dairy to stock up on the region’s finest Stilton (with Richard Jones taking orders for most of Dugard Place) the tour bus pulled into the car park of The Martin’s Arms. We were greeted by friendly staff, a roaring fire and an elderly couple who moved into the other room the moment we sat next to them. The food here is pricey but exceptional quality (and the Timothy Taylor is well kept) and would be an excellent choice for the Friday lunch provided six grand is nothing to you.
After checking in at the Millgate we took the short walk to The Organ Grinder, which had been missed off our previous visits. The pub is owned by The Blue Monkey Brewery and sells an array of simian themed real ales, all of which went down very easily. The pub is basic but welcoming, the only downside being one of the cheeky monkeys at the bar getting quite confrontational over Richard’s attempts to keep the log fire alight. There were also posters trying to recruit members for a book club review, possibly the complete works of Shakespeare, but that’s just one theorem.
The other new pub on the checklist wasn’t so good. The Vaults Ale and Cider House had been recommended to me by some Newark visitors but as we descended the sticky, smelly stairway into the cellar bar I realised I was unlikely to agree with them. The landlady was affable but the ale range limited and the décor in need of some TLC.
The Prince Rupert was once again everyone’s favourite (I personally like Just Beer but I’m in a minority of one) and it looks as though this will remain the tour base for 2018. Increased alcohol consumption (and not a Campari in sight) inevitably led to hunger and we headed to our safe bet The Greek Steakhouse. Unfortunately this turned out to be as disappointing as The Vaults so the die-hards will be looking for another Sunday night dining option.
So another good pub added to the list and remember there are some excellent taverns that nobody visited last year, all within one square mile. Also for those who find themselves enamoured with Blue Monkey beers, they are on sale in bottles from a shop in the town centre-I’m supping a bottle of Guerrilla Chocolate and Amaretto Stout as I type.
PS. The title refers to the comment made by The Martin’s waitress as she served Richard his Stinking Bishop…