I was dragged up the pub this lunchtime, well I wasn’t exactly kicking and screaming, but it was still an unexpected visit. The pub in question was the Greyhound at Charcott, just 15 minutes walk away from my workplace, and it was a work colleague who “dragged” me up there.
Now Dave is a friend, as well as a colleague, and like me he is also a CAMRA member. Unlike me he still plays an active role in the running of the branch, and occupies the position of Publicity Officer for West Kent CAMRA. Earlier this morning, I had popped into the office he shares with a couple of other members of our management team, to drop off some documents, when he asked me if I would be going to the Greyhound at lunchtime, for the presentation of their “Highly Commended CAMRA award” certificate.
Apparently I should have received an email telling me about the event, but I receive so many emails that I concentrate on opening work-related ones first, leaving personal emails until morning tea-break, or even lunchtime. As it happened the email had come through, but that’s by the by. It was a bright and sunny day outside, and the prospect of a quick lunchtime pint at the Greyhound seemed very appealing, so of course I said yes.
We each made our own way to the pub come lunchtime. Dave walks much quicker than I do, and although he’s taken the longer route, we still ended up arriving together. Cellar Head Amber Ale was on tap alongside Larkin’s Traditional and Porter. Despite it being lunchtime I opted for the latter; it was a no brainer really, as I’d not yet had a pint this year of this dark and delicious winter brew. The porter was everything I’d thought it would be; dark and warming, with chocolate and coffee notes balanced by an earthy hoppiness. At 5.2% ABV it’s definitely not a lunchtime drink, but what the hell!
One of our CAMRA colleagues was already in the pub, but as he’s retired he’s able to please himself. He’d already grabbed a table, and we’d not been sitting down for long when we were joined by our branch chairman, Craig and branch secretary, Carole. After a brief informal discussion it was time to make the presentation. The clock was ticking and Dave and I both had to be back at work by 2pm, so Craig managed to attract landlady Fran’s attention and called her over to explain what the award was all about.
Every quarter, West Kent CAMRA branch makes an award for the season’s "Most highly commended pub”. This is a new award, which recognises the work and enthusiasm put in by licensees in order to improve the pubs in their charge, and the Greyhound is only the second recipient of it. Fran was thrilled and insisted on calling partner Richard away from his duties in the kitchen. The pub has only recently started doing food and it was good to see it so busy on a weekday lunchtime.
Craig made a short speech and then it was time for a few photos. Unfortunately I had to dash off straight afterwards, which was a shame as it would have been nice to have stayed on for a chat; but not for another pint of porter. Nice though this beer is, it is definitely an evening, rather than a lunchtime drink.
I made it back in time for the scheduled afternoon meeting, and managed to stay awake the whole time. I prefer my pub visits to be more leisurely affairs, but this one worked out fine. It was good to catch up with a few friends, however brief our time together, and it was really good to see the pub so busy, just nine months after it was abandoned and left standing empty and forlorn. It was also good to indulge in a pint of Larkin’s Porter as well; especially as it was my first pint of the season.