“I need to get out more.” I reached that conclusion a few Thursday’s ago, when I attended the “Meet the Brewer” evening at a local pub. I also came to the same conclusion after going along to my local CAMRA Branch’s AGM.
OK, Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club isn’t really my cup of tea, but meeting up for a drink with friends is and afterwards, as we sat in the cellar bar at the newly opened Pantiles Tap, I realised this was something I miss, and that I really do need to get out more.
If I lived in Tunbridge Wells, I undoubtedly would, as drinkers in the town really are spoiled for choice in terms of decent beer and equally decent places in which to drink it. Tonbridge is the complete opposite, with an almost complete dearth of decent pubs, and an with most offering a choice between either Harvey’s or Doombar, there's nothing much to tempt me out.
Alright, that isn’t strictly the case; there are a number of outlets selling Tonbridge Brewery beers now, plus the odd oasis offering something different. I hasten to add that there is nothing wrong with Harvey’s; a beer that has always counted amongst my favourites, but whilst it is easy to handle, with a propensity to drop bright quickly, it is a beer which benefits from a bit of judicious looking after, especially in the cellar department.
Unfortunately, the proposed micro-pub for Tonbridge, seems to have fallen through, thereby dashing hopes there would be somewhere to enjoy a decent pint in the company of sensible and mature adults, away from the Sky Sports, karaoke and other noisy and unwanted distractions which mar so many of the town’s pubs.
With little in the immediate vicinity to tempt me out, most evenings I’m happy to sit in front of my computer, tapping away at the keyboard, composing my latest blog post. I find it relaxing, and with the added bonus of a glass or two of something decent to drink, it’s not a bad way to spend an evening. However, I do miss human company, and whilst I’m engaging with colleagues all day at work, it’s nice at times to relax in the company of like-minded individuals.
So what about the family, I hear you ask? Well, we all like our own space, with my lovely wife Eileen watching the latest celebrity nonsense on TV downstairs, and son Matthew tapping away on his own computer. With all three of us tied to busy and demanding jobs, and with Matthew not getting home until 7pm, there isn’t a huge amount of the evening left by the time we’ve finished eating and washed up.
Matt and I did venture down to the Punch & Judy with my friend Eric, last Friday; a pub I have written about before. The Punch has changed hands yet again; it’s a popular enough pub, but in recent years it has had a succession of different landlords. I’m not sure whether this is due to high rents, or if the beer tie is too restrictive, but I hope the new incumbents manage to make a go of things and stay a bit longer.
It was busy when we arrived and we had trouble finding a seat, but once settled there was no escaping the overly-loud music blaring from the speakers strategically sited around the pub. Now much as I like Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones, I don’t want them blasted in my ear at a volume which forces me to stick my head so close to my companions that I'm practically in their faces in order to hear what they’re saying. Equally I don’t want to shout in order to make myself heard!
To be fair, the barman did honour my request to turn the volume down, but it wasn’t by much, and I do question exactly for whose benefit the music was playing? It certainly wasn’t for my benefit or that of my companions, and I expect there were quite a few others in the pub who felt the same. I will go back, but if I find music blasting out like that again I will make a point of walking out.
I do think sometimes that people go into the pub trade with a blinkered idea of what their customers actually want – well I’ve got news for them this customer wants to talk and engage with people and not be subjected to ear-splitting music, karaoke, or having to watch over-paid and under-talented prima donnas kicking a football around, as dished up by Sky Sports!
I seem to have answered my own question, as to why I don’t get out more!!