Saturday 30 October 2021

Three heritage pubs in the heart of the capital

The trip up to London that I made last week with son Matthew, was the perfect opportunity of trying a few of the capital’s National Heritage pubs.  By heritage pubs, I mean those featured on the list originally drawn up by CAMRA, working in close conjunction with English Heritage.

The list acts as a long-standing repository of all the known pubs that fit the criteria laid down by the two organisations and acts as is the definitive guide to the nation's most important historic pub interiors. The pubs range from simple unaltered village pubs to glorious late-Victorian extravaganzas. Each is very special in its own way, but the common thread is the pub should possess an intact traditional interior or have features and rooms of national importance.

The list seems to have been expanded since I last looked at it, as it now includes those outlets which have interiors of regional importance, as well as those where the layout, and salient features of the inside, are considered important, nationally.

I’ve been in a fair few of these pubs, up and down the country, as might be expected from a drinking career that covers nearly half a century, but there are many more whose delights I have yet to experience. The visit I made to Stockport, earlier this month, with members of the Beer & Pubs Forum, allowed me to tick off a further three heritage pubs, and this is the sort of pub ticking I want to get back into.

I can undertake the task without too much effort, and it also means I will be able to experience some more of these national treasures for myself, so what better place to continue this activity than central London, where there are quite a few National Inventory pubs listed.  I drew up a short list of outlets that are considered of national importance, covering the area that is generally known as the “West End.” The idea behind this was we wouldn’t have to walk very far to find a pub that fitted the bill.

First on the list, and the pub where we enjoyed our first beer of the day, was the Red Lion, a handsome looking, building in the St James’s area, just to the south of Piccadilly. The pub is a “must see” for anyone who appreciates ornate engraved glass, etched, and cut decorative mirrors plus polished mahogany, as it has one of the best preserved, and most spectacular late-Victorian pub interiors anywhere.

The Red Lion dates from 1821 although 50 years later, it acquired a new and attractive brick frontage. It is quite small internally, with the bar space available for customers surrounding a central serving area. A century or so ago, it would have been divided up into separate areas, and evidence of this can be seen in the etched glass of the three outside doorways, displaying the names “public bar” and “private bar.” 

What makes the Red Lion so special are the splendid etched and cut mirrors lining two of the walls. The way that all this glassware catches the light, and the glittering reflections created, conjure up an atmosphere that is far removed from the world outside the pub. It’s almost as if your eyes don’t know which way to look, and whilst I took plenty of photos, they really don’t do justice to the pub in the way it deserves.

It was fortunate that the pub wasn’t that busy, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to take the number of photos that I did, but the late-Victorian splendour appeared lost on Matthew, as he suggested that we went and sat outside. Before doing so, we ordered our pints. The Red Lion is a Fuller’s pub, and alongside the London Pride and ESB, were a couple of offerings from Dark Star, plus former Gales’ brand, Seafarers. We both went for the Pride, which was drinking well, but rather expensive at £5.10!


I was quite happy sitting out at one of the tall tables, whilst watching the world going by. With the posh gentleman's outfitters of Jermyn Street at the end of the road, and upmarket wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd, just a block away, this part of  London is in a class of its own, but where were all the lunchtime customers?

 Our next port of call was a 15-minute walk away, to St Martin’s Lane, which runs up from Charing Cross towards Leicester Square. The Salisbury is one of London’s best preserved, and most spectacular, late nineteenth-century pubs, and takes its name from the Marquis of Salisbury, the local landowner, from whom the site was leased.

The Salisbury is part of a six-storey red-brick block, where the figures set in relief over the main entrance and at the tops of the solid pilasters, along with the etched and polished glass in carved wooden window frames, gives some idea of the splendour awaiting inside. It really is one of the finest examples of pub fitting, as practised at the height of the building boom that culminated around 1900.

The pub has retained one of its timber and glass screens, which marks off a small bar on the St Martin's Court side of the pub. There would have been other such screens originally, creating a cluster of bars round the servery in typical London fashion, as is the case at the aforementioned Red Lion. As with the latter establishment, the abundance of etched and polished glass again creates a glittering and almost spell-binding effect.

As a result of the loss of the partitions, the pub consists of a large L-shaped
main bar. It still retains its original long curved-ended mahogany counter, and the bar back fitting, with highly decorative etched mirror glass panels that extend right up to the ceiling. Towards the rear of the pub is some of the original fixed seating, sited in small, niche bays with more ornate mirrors behind, reaching to the ceiling. Much of the wood surround is said to be original with carved pillars regularly spaced along the wall.

Unlike the Red Lion, there were far more people in the Salisbury, so much so that we were lucky to get a seat. Unfortunately, the large number of customers made it much more difficult to photograph the interior, but you can just make out the small separate snug bar from one of the photos, as well as the separate “Dining Room” at the rear of the pub.

Although we didn’t see them there are reputed to be photos of a number of
famous visitors to the Salisbury, including Dylan Thomas, Marianne Faithful, Michael Caine (not that many people know that!),  plus Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, who apparently celebrated their second marriage here in 1962.

As I wrote in the previous article, Mathew and I manged to find a seat at one of the tables and enjoyed a good lunch. The beer choice was impressive, and that’s without me spotting the second set of hand pumps, hidden around the corner. It was all very different from the standing room only, of my only previous visit, which took place, sometime in the late 1970’s.

Our next and final pub was a tube ride away and tucked away along the Caledonian Road at the side of Kings Cross station. The Scottish Stores is a pub with an unprepossessing exterior, but a totally original, early 20th Century three-bar interior. I admitted in my previous article that the pub didn’t really grab my attention; certainly not at first, but on reflection, this was a rather harsh judgement.

 The Scottish Stores retains an intact partitioned interior, consisting of three separate bars which is described as one of the rarest of the few surviving partitioned interiors in London. There
is a central servery surrounded by three distinct compartments, created by two floor to ceiling screens. One screen runs back from the street front to the rear wall and has some etched glass panels and lots of plain bevelled ones creating the right-hand bar. Another screen, parallel to the street, incorporates the bar back, which creates the front and rear rooms.

In 2016 the pub was extended into the adjacent property on the left-hand side of the pub. The connection is through narrow doorway from the front bar and despite a steady stream of mainly young male customers, has had no real effect on the ambiance of the original building.

  You win some and you lose others, and despite its hallowed status as a heritage pub of national importance, the Scottish Stores paled in comparison with the Red Lion and the Salisbury. 

 That isn’t to say I regret visiting it, as in the world of ticking, it was another “tick,” but to my mind, it does demonstrate the difference between a reasonable pub and a truly great one.

Visits to other heritage pubs will no doubt follow, sometimes planned, but often not, as I ramp up my domestic travelling, post-pandemic. Having significantly more spare time than I did, just a month or so ago, will no doubt assist this process too.  



Monday 25 October 2021

That there London place

Friday marked my first proper trip to London since December 2019. I'd passed through a couple of times, whilst travelling on to destinations further afield. Those occasions were connected with the “Proper Days Out” trips I made to Burton and Stockport, but the visit undertaken by Matthew, and I was our first trip to the capital, in 22 months.

For the record, Mrs PBT’s wasn’t over-keen on us going, given the steady increase in Covid-19 cases, and were it not for the fact I had promised Matthew, I’d accompany him, I might have bailed out too. That decision wouldn’t have been Covid related but followed on from the news that the Halfway House at Brenchley, were running a Green Hop Festival, and Friday would be the first day.

As many of you are probably aware, I’ve gone off beer festivals, but I knew that several friends from the WhatsApp Beer Socials Group were planning to attend, and it would have been good to take the bus over to Brenchley, enjoy a few Green Hop beers whilst catching up with friends and acquaintances who I hadn’t seen for quite some time.

A promise is a promise though, and despite a few slight misgiving’s to begin with, Matthew and I enjoyed an excellent day out. We boarded the 10.31 train to London, alighting at London Bridge. I still find myself gazing up in wonder at the way this once dingy and mishmash of a station has been transformed into the bright, spacious, and bustling space it is today, even though the construction work finished five or six years ago.

Both of us had purchased an All-Zones Travelcard, allowing us the travel around the capital by train, tube, or bus, but given the fine weather, we decided to walk to our first destination. This was a rather plain-looking pub in Bermondsey, that featured in the 1980’s series about a group of firefighters,  “London’s Burning.” Matthew wanted to see it, being a fan of series, so thinking that it probably wouldn’t open until midday anyway, the walk would also kill some time.

After crossing Tooley Street, which runs parallel to the station, I decided, on a whim, to take cut through the impressive Hay’s Galleria, to the Thames. This tastefully restored former dockside and wharf development is well worth seeing, and whilst I had made a very brief visit, a decade or so before, both of us were well impressed by the way in which former tea and produce warehouses have been restored. 

Upon reaching the riverbank, we took a right turn and headed eastwards along the Thames, in the direction of Tower Bridge. We stopped along the way to take photos of HMS Belfast, various city skyscrapers, the Tower of London plus the iconic bridge itself. 

There were quite a few tourists and sightseers out and about, all taking advantage of the late autumn sunshine, as we continued our walk, passing under Tower Bridge and then passed the long-closed, former Courage Brewery. The latter has been converted into upmarket apartments – no surprises there, given the views across the Thames from the river facing units. 

Turning away from the brewery, and along Horselydown Lane, we came upon the Anchor Tap. Formerly the tap for Courage’s brewery, I had a feeling the pub is now a Samuel Smith’s house, but with no outward clues, it wasn’t until I checked later, on What Pub, that the Tadcaster company was confirmed as the owner.

The Tap is a pub I’ve wanted to visit for some time, but we were too early for a drink. Matthew was also keen to find the pub from London’s Burning so we pressed on, coming across the Ship Aground, appropriately next door to Dockhead Fire Station. The latter has been rebuilt since the iconic 1980’s series was filmed and is a modern and rather functional looking building.

The pub looked OK from the outside, although Matthew wasn’t that keen in the end to step inside. Possibly the two, rather disreputable looking characters sat outside, with their dogs snarling and facing off against each other, put him off, and whilst I said it would probably be fine inside, he decided that it was too early for a drink! I wasn’t overly bothered, as I wanted to save myself for some better pubs, and potentially better beer, later on, so we took a few photos and then headed off towards Bermondsey underground station.

We took the Jubilee Line to Green Park, a destination that would afford the chance of a coffee under the trees and would also be within easy walking distance of the first of several National Heritage pubs on my agenda. Matthew was blissfully unaware that I’d picked out a few of these unspoiled gems for us to visit, instead of just heading out on a random pub-crawl. He really should know me better by now!

We visited three such pubs that day, and I intend to write about them all, but not in this article. Suffice to say we made our way to the first of these heritage pubs, by skirting Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial, before heading back up through Green Park, and across to St James’s Square. En route, we passed the intriguing brick-built, Palace of St James, observing two heavily armed police officers guarding the side entrance.

The pub chosen for our first beer of the day, was the Red Lion, an absolute gem of a place, and a “must see” for anyone who loves ornate Victorian engraved glass, etched, and cut decorative mirrors and polished mahogany. The Red Lion didn’t disappoint, and the London Pride didn’t either, but more about both in the next article.

We just had the one at the Red Lion, as we wanted something to eat, so after drinking up, we hurried along Jermyn Street and made our way to Trafalgar Square, via Haymarket. I was making for the Salisbury, another unspoilt classic Victorian pub, in St Martin’s Lane. On the way we stopped for a quick look at the food menu for the Chandos, which was displayed outside this well-known, Sam Smith’s pub.

On balance, the food offering at the Salisbury, which we’d already viewed online, seemed more attractive, so we stuck with my original choice. I was pleased to discover the pub wasn’t bursting at the seams, unlike my only previous visit, sometime in the late 1970’s! We even managed to find a seat, plus table. The beer choice was impressive, and that’s without me spotting the second set of hand pumps, hidden around the corner.

I went for a pint of Zephyr, from the resurrected Truman’s Brewery. If I’m honest, it wasn’t at its best, but remained quit drinkable.  For some reason, Matthew chose Amstell – a beer that might have been brewed in Amsterdam, when I visited in 1975, but now just another multi-national bland, that could be, and probably is,  brewed anywhere.

I went and ordered our food – gammon, egg, chips, and peas for Matthew, plus chicken & mushroom pie, mash, greens, and gravy for me. There were no pies though – something about the delivery not turning up. Sounds familiar? I opted instead for the Hunter’s Chicken, with chips, and coleslaw. It was a perfectly reasonable substitute, although I didn’t half fancy a pie!

The Salisbury started to fill up, as the afternoon wore on, so it was time for us to head off elsewhere. There were several National Inventory pubs within walking distance, but Matthew wanted to make better use of our Travelcards. This was where I did a bit of thinking on my feet, and after an online search I decided we should head up to Kings Cross via the Piccadilly Line and see what the nearby Scottish Stores had to offer. 

 Covent Garden underground has a lift to transport passengers down to the platforms. Matthew thought this unusual, until I reminded him that

Hampstead Heath tube station has the same arrangement, but what it also has is some rather attractive original tile work dating from Edwardian times.  Kings Cross, on the other hand, is a modernised, major transport hub, along with the neighbouring St Pancras, and has connections that are both national and international. 

 The Scottish Stores is a pub with an unprepossessing exterior, but a totally original, early 20th Century three-bar interior, dating from 1901. I must admit the pub didn’t really grab my attention at first, but a closer inspection, plus a read-up on CAMRA’s National Heritage website, led me to reconsider. There was a scaled-down range of cask beers, along with some well-known international beers. Matthew went for a pint of Budvar, and whilst I was very tempted, I stuck with cask and opted for a pint of Hammerton No. 7, a very drinkable 5.2% IPA. 

Given its three bars, plus what looked like a more contemporary and larger bar to the left, the Scottish Stores certainly seemed capable of packing in the punters. As the clock ticked towards 5pm, a steady stream of mainly young males (students, possibly?), began to swell the numbers further, so after finishing our pints, we made plans to leave.

We walked the short distance, back to Kings Cross and took the Northern Line to London Bridge. The train back to Tonbridge was nowhere near as crowded as might be thought, but we still kept our masks on, as did the majority of the passengers. It is still debatable whether visitor numbers in the capital have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and I’m inclined to think not, but there seemed to be a healthy buzz about the place. 

What was good, was noticing a steady and healthy flow of trade in all the pubs we visited, and long may that trend continue. Also, as  I said in an earlier article, about the trip I made to Stockport, it was nice just to go somewhere and be able to pop on and out of pubs, without having to pre-book or sign in, and to, once more, be able to order one's food and drink at the bar.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Small steps back along the North Downs Way

Last Monday I decided it was high time to hit the trail again – the trail being the North Downs Way. The last section of the trail I did was back in July, when I had to abort the walk after 5-6 miles, due to problem with my left knee. It locked up, making even the slightest lateral movements painful. I limped to the nearest pub, and called a taxi - after a well-earned pint, of course!

The problem cleared, after a day or so’s rest, and I was able to resume my normal lunchtime circular walk without any further trouble, but I was conscious of this happening again. After taking advice from colleagues, who are probably fitter than me, I looked around for a suitable knee restraint. I then encountered the new-age problem of far too much choice, and too many conflicting reviews – how do you tell which are genuine?

Eventually I bit the bullet and bought a suitable knee brace from a well-known online store, and it seemed to do the trick – more on that later. The logical next step was to attempt another hike, whilst wearing the brace, but I then came up against family concerns. Anyone would think I was hiking across Dartmoor or the Brecon Beacons, and it was son Matthew who showed himself as being far more concerned and protective than Mrs PBT’s.

Her only concern was where exactly would I be walking, so I agreed to leave a synopsis and a sketched-out route for her, should the need arise. It was only a short walk to get me back in the swing of things, and basically involved finishing off the stretch I failed to complete last time.

I didn’t want to repeat any of the previous route, so the question was how to get to Knockholt Pound, and the Three Horseshoes, which was the point I’d limped to back in July?  Some online research revealed a bus service running from Orpington station to the pub. I could then walk the three and a half miles or so, to Dunton Green, from where I’d be able to take the train back to Tonbridge. Easy-peasy!

So last Monday, I used my Senior Railcard and took the train to Orpington. I then exited straight into the bus rank, on the north side of the station, and waited for the R05 bus. Bus travel is free for me, courtesy of my Senior Citizens Bus Pass, so once on the small, single-deck bus I enjoyed a half-hour journey, through leafy suburbia, out of Orpington, Green Street Green and the delightfully named Pratt’s Bottom.

The bus deposited me, directly opposite the Three Horseshoes, and after crossing the road, I headed off along the narrow, but virtually traffic-free, Chipstead Lane. The bus had climbed steadily out of Pratt’s Bottom, and the road continued to do the same for a half-mile or so, before reaching the point where the NDW crosses. This is virtually the summit of this section of the North Downs, and after following the path steadily eastwards, it then turned sharply towards the south skirting an area of woodland.

Emerging from the trees, I was rewarded with a spectacular view over the Vale of Holmesdale, spoiled somewhat by the presence (both visual as well as audible) of the M25 motorway. To my right I could see Chevening House and its surrounding parkland – the property being the official grace & favour home of the serving Foreign Secretary. I understand there is currently a bit of a spat going on, between the new incumbent Liz Truss, and the disgraced former holder of the position, Dominic Raab – he of the closed Cyprus beach fiasco, as to which of them has the right to use this imposing pile.

The pair certainly don't spoil another couple and with luck, they might end up battering each other to death, but I digress, as a long steep descent then followed, down from the top of the escarpment. Unfortunately, it led directly towards the noise of the encroaching London Orbital Motorway, but halfway down I noticed a handily situated bench, where I stopped to eat a couple of the cheese rolls, I’d packed in my rucksack.

Continuing my descent, I passed a farm, before joining the B2211 Chevening Road. The latter runs parallel to, and almost within touching distance of the M25. Then, after a right turn at a roundabout, it joins the A224 road, which runs down from Bromley. Fortunately, there is a pavement, and even better, it leaves the M25 behind.

The relief is short-lived, as the road into Dunton Green crosses the M26, the so-called Wrotham Spur, that allows traffic travelling eastbound on the M20, to directly join the M25. This small section of Kent is definitely no place to live, if you wish to escape from traffic noise.

Prior to the bridge over the M26, a road forks off sharp left, towards Otford, and overlooking the junction is the imposing Rose & Crown. I might have once called in, back in the dim and distant past, but there was no chance of a drink, last Monday. The pub is currently closed, undergoing major renovation works, as the attached photo shows. Somewhat optimistically, it is supposed to be re-opening, in time for the Christmas period.

I carried on along the A224, crossing the bridge over the M26, when what did I spy in the distance? A pub, of course, but thinking it was the Miner’s Arms – a Greene King house I’ve never been overly struck on, paid little attention, until it came clearly into view.  It was in fact, the Duke’s Head, a white-painted and weather-boarded old pub which, I've never really noticed before, let alone set foot in. according to WhatPub,

According to WhatPub,  it was once a coaching inn, but also according to the website, the Duke’s Head shouldn’t have been open on a Monday. In addition, it was supposed to be located down a side street, rather than the main road. I’d obviously read the map incorrectly, but with the front door well and truly open, the pub was definitely welcoming customers across its threshold.

I popped inside to find one customer sat at the bar, a young barman behind it and the landlord busying himself with a number of different pub-related tasks. The bank of four hand pulls on the counter, was devoid of any clips so more in expectation I asked which cask ales were on, only to be told, “none at the moment.” They did have a good selection of lagers on tap, so after asking mine host which one he recommend, I was told without hesitation, that Heineken was the one to go for.

Heineken it was then, and in that particular moment in time, it really hit the spot. I didn’t have long to savour it, as I could see from my phone there was a train due in 20 minutes. The lone drinker at the bar told me there was a tarmac path leading from the adjacent recreation ground direct to Dunton Green station., so after thanking both him and the landlord, I set off across the fields to catch the train home.

Arriving back in Tonbridge, I managed to grab a “walk-in” haircut at my usual barbers, before making my way home. My knee had held up well, as on top of the four miles of trail-walking, there was an additional mile to and from the station.

Sadly, my optimism was short lived, because on Friday, Matthew and I took a trip up to that there London place. We walked our socks off, and without realizing it, clocked up over 20,000 steps – if you include that mile each way, to the station and back. 20,000 steps equate to 10 miles, and without the benefit of a brace, my knee really felt it.

I’ve been hobbling around in discomfort, all day, and should really have strapped that support around the joint before leaving. If I’m honest, neither of us expected to do that much walking, but I won’t make that mistake a third time.

There will be a full report about our London visit, in the fullness of time, but in the meantime Monday’s short walk along the NDW, means I have now completed two thirds of the trail, with just over 40 miles to go. 

I would like to finish the walk this year, but it depends on variables such as the weather, the rapidly fading hours of available daylight, plus that lower left limb of mine. If any of these reasons conspire against me, then completing the NDW will be something to look forward to next year,  come the spring.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Let the sunshine work its magic

In mid-September Pub Curmudgeon, (Mudge), published an interesting post about outdoor drinking, and how this pastime had increased in popularity over the years. Utilising a garden, courtyard, or other outdoor space, to take advantage of an all too rare spell of fine weather, was once viewed as a bonus, rather than a regular boost to trade, but times have changed.

These days, the lucrative appeal of alfresco drinking and dining, has become much more an essential, rather than a novel addition to pub life and the upsurge in this activity has been spurred on, over the past two decades, by a couple of unforeseen factors.

I am talking here of course, about the 2007 smoking ban and, most recently, the strictures associated with the UK government’s approach to dealing with Covid. Thinking back to the beginning of April, this year, when pubs were finally permitted to re-open, albeit in an outdoor capacity only, I recall sitting out, in a sunny, but freezing cold pub garden, insulated by several layers of clothing, whilst enjoying a pint.

I also remember, taking Mrs PBT’s along to meet up with a group of her friends; again, in an outdoor pub-garden setting. On that occasion they enjoyed an evening meal, whilst wrapped up warm against the cold of an early spring. The pub in question, had space heaters, but even so sitting outside in the freezing cold was not normal behaviour.

Whilst appearing extreme, these were necessary measures that enabled pubs, and restaurants, to begin trading again, and generate much needed income. But now, with a degree of normality having returned, such measures are thankfully, no longer necessary. There’s no harm though, in taking a look at outdoor drinking, and in particular one often overlooked aspect of the practice.

It might seem strange writing about this topic, when the clocks are set to change in a couple of weeks’ time, as for many, this ritual turning the clocks back an hour, heralds the approach of winter.  Perhaps then this piece should serve as a reminder of the fast-fading days of summer, and an inspiration to look forward to next spring, and the promise of what is to come, with the return of the warmer weather.

Before starting, I’m going to be brutally honest, and say we don’t really have the right climate for outdoor drinking, certainly not on an uninterrupted basis from April through to October. This is almost certainly why institutions like the beer gardens of Germany, and other central European countries, have never really caught on in the UK. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take advantage of spells of warm, dry, and sunny weather, when they do occur, but do so with a hint of caution and not allow ourselves to get too carried away.

Mudge’s article covered the rise of outdoor drinking, in rather more detail than I intend to do here. The impact of the smoking ban and of Covid, have both been major factors, and their importance should not be ignored. Neither should the different approaches of those who prefer to remain hidden away indoors, in the gloom of a dark and low-lit bar, and those outdoor types who are rolling up their sleeves, and heading into the pub garden, at the merest hint of a ray of sunshine.

What both of us are hinting at, is alfresco drinking tends to divide pub-goers up into two distinct camps, and whilst I fully appreciate the advantages, and the disadvantages of both situations, what I want to cover here, is a particularly enjoyable aspect of enjoying a pint outside in the warm weather.

I’m talking about a sensation that is often overlooked, but one which is associated not just with beer drinking, but with beer appreciation and enjoyment of the finest long drink in the world. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I refer to the following words, that I wrote three years ago, following a particularly memorable lunchtime visit to a local pub.

“It was whilst sitting there, nursing my pint that I began to notice a wonderfully hoppy aroma emanating from the beer, which brought back pleasant memories of outdoor drinking, on a warm summer’s day.” The hoppy nose, and wonderful aroma I experienced, is most noticeable whilst drinking outside, when the sun is shining, and is due to the action of the sun's rays on some of the more volatile components present in the beer.

It seems that the presence of the sun, rather than just high temperatures, is required before this effect occurs, as the hoppy aroma is still noticeable in spring or autumn, when the thermometer can be struggling to register anything remotely respectable, providing the sun is shining.

These wonderful hop aromas enhance the overall drinking experience and are one of the many pleasures of beer drinking. This sense of anticipation given to the enjoyment of a well-crafted pint, is one of the bonuses of outdoor drinking. It is said that the sense of smell, perhaps more than any other of our senses, can invoke memories which have lain hidden for years, or perhaps expunged from our consciousness altogether; and that was certainly the case that day.

So, for me, sitting outside in a pub garden from early spring to late autumn, whenever the weather is kind, whilst enjoying a well-hopped pint of bitter is, one of life's great pleasures. Even at either end of this extended period it can be worthwhile finding a sheltered spot, away from the wind, in order to add that extra enhancement to a pint.

One final point to note, is the power of the sun to release these amazing aromas, seems far more evident with top-fermented ales and stouts, rather than bottom fermented lagers, so perhaps factors such as the variety of hops used, as well as the strain of yeast, all play their part.

Whatever the reason, there is still time before the onset of winter, to find that cosy corner, out of the wind and in the full glare of the sun and put what I am saying to the test.