I am pleased to report that the CAMRA National Inventory listed, Old House at Ightham Common is alive and well. It was certainly busy when I called in at lunchtime today, and with a fine range of beers on offer, and customers in both bars, it was definitely worth my stopping by.
I don’t often get over that way; even though Ightham Common is only about eight miles drive from my house; but this could all change. Our son has recently started dating a girl who lives in nearby Ightham village. She has a car, but he doesn’t; in fact he has yet to book himself some driving lessons, let alone take his driving test! The upshot of this was dad’s taxi had to run him over to Ightham at lunchtime, and with the time being just after 1.30pm, it seemed an ideal opportunity for me to make a slight detour on the way back and see how the Old House was doing.
I noticed a number of racing bikes lined up against the wall when I arrived, but there was only one other vehicle parked outside. I think this 4 x 4 belonged to the landlord, who was sitting outside, having a crafty cigarette. I said hello, and made my way inside; choosing, as always, the left-hand public bar, which is the larger of the two bars.
The owners of the bikes were sat in the adjacent saloon, all looking very professional in their black and yellow cycling gear. There were four or five of them, all looking older than me, but much fitter and leaner. They were all drinking pints, but as I’ve heard beer is isotonic, it was probably just the right drink to replace lost body fluids after all that exercise. I later discovered they were from the Sidcup area, and from their conversation, they appeared to be real ale enthusiasts, or possibly fully paid upCAMRA members.
There were a couple of old boys, dressed in their Sunday best, sat at the bar in the public enjoying the plate of sausage rolls and scotch eggs laid out on the counter. They acknowledged my presence and shouted for the landlord, but as he had already seen me, he soon appeared on the scene. I can’t remember all the beers on sale, but I did see Harvey’s Best, Dark Star Cappuccino plus a Red Ale whose name escapes me, Titanic Bitter, Mr Swift’s Pale Ale from West Berkshire Brewery, plus Oakham Inferno.
It was a toss-up between the latter two, but with the landlord recommending the Inferno, I went with that. It was pale golden in colour and bursting with citrus flavours from the North American hops used in the brewing. I had quite liked the sound of the Mr Swift’s as well, but as I was driving I wisely limited myself to just the one pint.
The public bar began to fill up soon after my arrival. Everyone seemed on first name terms with both each other and mine host, so they were obviously all locals. I was offered some sausage rolls, which went well with the beer, as did the peanuts on the bar. It was a nice fairly warm spring day outside, so the door had been left open.
The cyclists filed in from the other bar for refills (thirsty work riding up and down all those hills between South London and Ightham!). Most opted for the Cappuccino, although Titanic also seemed a popular choice. In contrast, the regulars were drinking Harvey’s, to a man, but Sussex Best is regarded as a “must stock” beer in this part of the South East, so this wasn’t surprising.
As I said, I restricted myself to just the one, secure in the knowledge that, providing the romance lasts, I’ll be making a few more trips over to Ightham. It was good to see the Old House nice and busy, and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself over that way. Just remember though that it has limited opening times, as it is something of a “hobby pub” and the landlord has a full-time job elsewhere.
|Rifle Volunteers - Maidstone|
I know the Rifle Volunteers well, as I used to live in Maidstone. Back then it was a Shepherd Neame tied house, but more recently it has belonged to local brewers, Goachers. It is well worth a visit, but check it out first, either on WhatPub, or here on the National Inventory website.