Just a quick post before I head off to the airport tomorrow morning for a trip to foreign climes. It’s another business trip – the second one in as many months, and more than I’ve had in most previous years in my current position.
Still don’t knock it, as you never know when the chance might come again; or perhaps not! I’ll be wanting a holiday when I get back, but there’s little chance of that as on top of organising my trip, I’ve been busy wrapping up a lengthy recruitment process.
So a week after my return, I’ll be welcoming a new member of staff to the QC department and getting stuck into the training process – all good fun, as they say; or perhaps not?
I took today off, not for pleasure or anything remotely like it, but Mrs PBT’s and I had a funeral to attend, and has the deceased was my wife’s former boss, it was only fitting that we should go and pay our respects. It helped that he was a genuine, all-round good guy and even though it was some time since either of us had seen him, it was good, in a therapeutic sort of way to catch up with a few of his friends and what remains of his extended family, swap memories and share a tale or two.
Friday’s weather had a real funereal feel about it; dull, overcast and with intermittent drizzly rain, which was quite heavy at times. There was also a cold easterly wind blowing – not what you’d expect for the second half of May.
The service itself was a fitting tribute, and apart from a quick rendition of Amazing Grace, followed by the Lord’s Prayer, was more humanist in nature than religious. Much to my late mother’s eternal disappointment, and despite her best endeavours in sending my sister and I to Sunday school, I never really "got religion", so to attend a service which only paid lip-service to the almighty, was right up my street.
There was a small gathering afterwards at the Black Horse in Pembury; a real Tardis-like pub, right in the centre of Pembury – a village which, since the opening of the by-pass a couple of decades ago, is now virtually traffic free.
There were still too many parked cars though, and precious free parking spaces; a situation made worse by the central car-park now in the process of being turned into housing (it’s no good building all these houses if there’s nowhere for residents to park!).
I dropped Mrs PBT’s off outside the pub, before turning round and heading along to the nearby Tesco superstore, where there were plenty of free spaces. After a brisk 10 minute walk, I was back at the Black Horse, stepping inside for the first time in eight years.
It’s a lovely old building, with a typical Kentish tile-hung, frontage. Inside there’s a large inglenook fireplace and a central bar, which you can walk right around. The front of the pub seems popular with locals, whilst the area to the rear of the bar, is more of a dining area.
There were just three cask-ales on the bar, so I knew I stood a good chance of getting a decent pint. The beers were Fuller’s London Pride, St Austell Tribute and a “house beer” – Black Horse Bitter. I’ve never been a fan of so-called “house beers”, as you just know they’re either just a re-badged, bog-standard bitter, or they’re a “brewery –mix” of two beers the brewery wants to get rid of. I played safe and opted for the Pride, which was in good form, and scoring an easy 3.0 NBSS.
After a quick look round, I made my way to the restaurant section at the rear of the pub, to find Mrs PBT’s and the other mourners. We stayed for about an hour carrying out the sort of conversation you so at funerals – quiet and polite to begin with, but becoming more relaxed and laid-back as the initial awkwardness wears off and the drink begins to lubricate the proceedings.
We left shortly after 2pm, as we had some shopping to do, and I had my packing to finish off. As we departed I reflected that whilst I’m by no means a regular visitor to the Black Horse, I’ve known the place for the best part of the last 30 years, and I’m pleased to report that very little has changed during this time.
According to the pub’s website, landlord and landlady Gary and Michelle, have been at the Black Horse since December 1990. Such longevity is rare in the licensed trade these days, so it is comforting to see that the pub has been in the capable hands for the past three decades. The couple are obviously doing something right, and long may they continue.