Sunday, 3 January 2010

Closer to Home

Whilst there's something both highly satisfying and immensely enjoyable in flying off to foreign parts in order to sample different beers, sometimes it makes sense to pay a bit more attention to what is going on a bit closer to home.

Today, being the last day of the long Christmas break, I was determined not to waste it by sitting indoors. I was up quite early, we had taken the last of the Christmas decorations down, and now it was time to get out in the fresh air and enjoy a long walk in the countryside. My destination was the Hare & Hounds, in the small village of Bidborough, a pub which although virtually on my doorstep, was somewhere I hadn't been in a long time.

I set off following the scenic route up towards Bidborough Ridge. Although there was still frost on the ground in places, it was very pleasant being out in the bright January sunshine. I wasn't hurrying, and it took me an hour and a half to reach the pub, (I could have driven there in 15 minutes!). On the way I stopped to take in the spectacular views from the top of the ridge, right across the Medway Valley towards the Greensand Ridge.

The Hare & Hounds is a Victorian building on a cross-roads in the centre of Bidborough. Internally there are four separate drinking/eating areas ranging from a basic public bar (complete with darts and pool), a saloon with comfortable sofas, a large main bar with tables for bar food, plus a restaurant to the rear. There were four cask beers on sale: Harveys Best, Youngs Bitter, Sharps Doom Bar (a beer that seems to spring up everywhere round here!), and my choice of the day O'Hanlon's Firefly. This was a cracking beer; at just 3.7% it proved the perfect session bitter. I sat in the corner, close to the fire pleased to see that this particular village pub was thriving with a good mix of different customers.

After a couple of pints it was time to leave. I chose a different route back, following the Weald Way footpath down off the ridge. I was keen to follow this route as this is the next long-distance footpath that my friend Eric and I are planning to walk later in the year. The path was quite muddy in places, and I was glad to get back onto more solid ground.

I popped into our local Wetherspoons when I got back to Tonbridge. The pump clip for the Thornbridge Pioneer said "Available Soon" (how many times does that happen in JDW?), so I settled for a warming cup of coffee instead. After that it was time to meet my son from work and head for home for a most welcome dinner.

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