On a couple of occasions, when the weather was fine, I took said Labrador, whose name is Ellie by the way, for a walk.
We live on the edge of town and once you get beyond the busy mini-bypass there are some nice walks. Sunday was a particularly fine and bright day, (a welcome change after all the wind and rain we’ve had), so I walked Ellie right up to Somerhill; a large Victorian pile that was formerly the manor house for the area of south Tonbridge where we live, but is now a fee-paying school. As is often the case with such grandiose houses, Somerhill is surrounded by parkland and is set high up on a ridge, overlooking an ornamental lake. It is quite a climb up to the house, and despite the cool temperatures, both me and Ellie were quite warm by the time we reached the top.
The views from just below the house are quite spectacular, sweeping right across the town and away to the Greensand ridge in the distance. I kept thinking the spot would be an ideal place for a watering hole, in fact had this been somewhere like Bavaria, then I’m pretty certain some enterprising soul would have opened a bar-cum-restaurant. Not in England though, especially where there is a school in the vicinity, but on the way back I couldn’t get the thought of a thirst quenching pint of bitter, and a nice cosy pub, out of my mind.
There is what used to be a fine old pub back down the hill, on the edge of the estate; in fact I believe at one time it was something to do with the “big house”. Nowadays the Vauxhall Inn is run by Chef & Brewer, and being much more of an eatery than the old alehouse it once was, dogs are not allowed inside. A great pity as it would have been the perfect way to end our walk. Instead, Ellie and I had to walk forlornly past and make do with a cup of tea at home instead.
Of course, the Vauxhall is not alone in banning dogs. In the mistaken name of hygiene and ‘elf ‘n safety, we have denied admittance to man’s best friend from hundreds, if not thousands, of pubs up and down the country.The whole episode got me thinking about just what a crazy country we now live in, where all sorts of absurd rules and regulations govern our every day lives.
A dozen or so years ago we had a dog of our own, and probably six or more years prior to her passing I used to take her into the Vauxhall. Back then it was traditional old pub and, as it had several separate bars, potential conflicts between diners and those just wanting a convivial drink, (with or without a canine companion), just weren’t an issue. Oh that this were the case today – separate bars catering for the different needs of disparate groups of people.
We certainly have lost a lot in the rush to create a homogenised society, and when one combines all this with all the rules and regulations we have to put up with today it really makes me yearn for the past. Things were a lot simpler back then and people just got on with their lives without interference from petty bureaucrats and the all pervading influence of the “nanny state”. At least I am old enough to remember such times, which is more than can said of today’s generation.