A couple of weekends ago, a branch trip to Ramsgate, to attend a beer festival at Gadd’s Brewery had to be cancelled, and prior to this a number of other plans had to be altered. I’d been out of the frame for a while anyway, but the other Friday I decided to join local CAMRA members on a bus trip to Paddock Wood. This trip was a replacement for the cancelled Gadd’s outing, but being a bus outing, was by nature a much more localised affair.George & Dragon, between Capel and Tudeley), have a beer or two there, and then take the next Tonbridge-bound bus. Again, there would be a refreshment stop at the Poacher & Partridge, a large “destination pub” on the road between Tudeley and Golden Green. I could have boarded instead at the other end of my road, but I wanted to call in at the bank first. Keith, who had organised the trip was waiting, as expected, outside the Rose & Crown. We chatted for a short while, but as we waited for the bus to arrive, we were approached by a couple of little old ladies, who asked if we were waiting for the Paddock Wood bus. After replying “Yes,” they told us that the 205 would be terminating and turning round at the station, due to roadworks affecting the other end of the High Street. This was contrary to information displayed on the bus company website.
We have asked drivers before, on these sorts of trips, and they are usually happy to oblige. This one was no exception, and pulled up near to the pub. I thanked her and said to look out for some dodgy characters getting on at Paddock Wood, and wanting dropping at the same pub. I carefully crossed the busy B2017 and made my way to the pub entrance. The car park looked reasonably full and through the plain glass windows I could see a healthy number of customers inside.The latter overlooks a large and well-laid out garden, but it was far too hot to sit out in the sun unless you wanted to frazzle. The CAMRA contingent told me their visit to the Forester’s had been worthwhile, although with Doom Bar as the sole cask ale, I hadn’t missed much beer-wise. From a pub point of view, the Forester’s remains as one of the few local hostelries I haven’t managed to visit.
Roughly an hour later, we traipsed outside to wait for the next bus heading back to Tonbridge. There was a different driver this time, but it was only a couple of stops before our next port of call – the Poacher & Partridge, at Tudeley. The Poacher is a large sprawling pub that had been enlarged over the years. It has also undergone several name changes, before adding a bird to one who steals game, and adopting the present moniker.
The ripening bunches of grapes, hanging from the woodwork unfortunately
attracted the wasps, but they didn’t cause us too much bother, and we spent a
pleasant hour or so catching up on beer, pubs, and holiday related matters. We were joined by a member from Leigh who had driven over, and he very kindly offered me a lift back into Tonbridge. This meant avoiding the, at times, hair-raising walk back to the bus stop.
So, despite earlier problems with the buses, the afternoon ended well, with two contrasting pubs proving that on a Friday at least, people still like to head out for a drink or two in the great outdoors.