The Hog’s Head Inn, Alnwick, is where it all started for me and is the perfect place to base yourself if exploring Northumberland’s countryside & coastline. Part of the multi award winning Inn Collection Group, comfort, charm and locally sourced food & drink is what they do. Renowned for being located in some of the best beauty spots across the North East, you can find a list of all their Inns and locations here: www.useyourlocal.com/publist/the-inn-collection-group-1763
The Bear & Ragged Staff, just on the outskirts of Oxford however, was my latest pub stayover. Again, great location for exploring the surrounding areas, well connected and helpful staff offering local knowledge. Also part of a small collection of multi award winning pubs, Peach Pubs are a group full of character, found in market towns across the heart of England: www.useyourlocal.com/publist/peach-pubs-making-life-peachy-since-2002-1764
As Glamping becomes more popular, I have Scotland’s highest pub on my wish-list, hoping to stay in one of their wooden pods at The Wanlockhead Inn. Located in Dumfriesshire rather than the Highlands, Wanlockhead Inn can be found 1531m above sea level – also the name for their locally brewed “Beer with Altitude” from the nearby Lola Rose Brewery.
If high peaks and long walks are your thing, where better to visit than the Peak District? The Old Nag’s Head in Edale, sits at the official start of The Pennine Way, just down the road from The Rambler Inn. Both steeped in tradition and history, The Old Nag’s head is where The Great Kinder Beer Barrel Challenge originated from in 1998 and was still going strong, celebrated yearly before the pandemic hit.
To find a coastal hidden gem however, you could to try The Badger’s Set in Hinderwell. Nestled in between the seaside towns of Redcar and Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast, these newly refurbished rooms are a great addition to The Badger Hounds. If landlords Andy & Stephen’s pride & passion is anything to go by – you know you can expect great things!
When it comes to city breaks, London has to be a top pick. With an array of traditional pubs to choose from, they can be competitive alternatives to city centre hotels. The Alma Wandsworth, close to Wimbledon Park, and The Pelton Arms in Greenwich are two fantastic choices for discovering the city. You might recognise The Pelton Arms from being featured in “Rock and Chips”, the prequel to Only Fools and Horses, where it became “The Nag’s Head”.
Also featured on TV, we have The Railway Inn near Hull, who starred in Channel 4’s Four in a Bed. With three generations at the helm of the pub, hospitality runs through their blood. It all started with Edith, one of the very first landladies in Hull, and the family business has continued to strive ever since – along with the family recipe’s homemade pies!
Talking of blood-lines, all pure-bloods, half-bloods & muggle-borns are warmly welcomed at Hallow & Crux. With 4 individually designed bedrooms, you can transport yourself to the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter right on the doorstep of where the first 2 movies were famously filmed. Situated above pub & restaurant The Dirty Bottles, who have their own luxury boutique rooms too, you don’t have to venture too far to be served delicious fresh food & fancy cocktails. Just try not to disturb the mandrakes on the roof top terrace!
With the further delay of the restrictions easing, uncertainty has once again crept into the minds of publicans as well as the general public.
Everyone can feel anxious and lonely from time to time so why not take the time out of your busy day to reconnect with old friends, family or listen to the stories and experiences from people who may just need someone to talk to. At Useyourlocal we believe there is no better way to do this than over an ice cold beverage and some good old fashioned pub grub.
Building on the belief that Pubs are at the heart of many communities, which create spaces for sociability and companionship, Pub is The Hub has launched a new call to action poem and advice guide for Loneliness Awareness Week (from Monday, 14 June).
For more information on the “Join Inn – Last Orders for Loneliness” campaign and ideas for how your pub can help tackle social isolation within the community, go to: https://www.pubisthehub.org.uk/news/loneliness-awareness-poem/
With less than 2 weeks to go before pub gardens reopen, there’s one thing England’s publicans and pub lovers are all praying for – warm sunny weather.
Whilst there’s obviously nothing any of us can do to change the weather, new research does highlight what we can do to give everyone the very best chance of enjoying a couple of pints outside from 12th April.
Professor Stella Foster-Smith, from the Clothing Retailers Association of Psychology, has been looking into the effects of clothing on our mindset for over 25 years. Funded by some of the world’s biggest clothing brands, results from her latest research project are startling.
Stella has found that when people wear shorts, they perceive the ambient temperature to be 2-3 degrees higher than it actually is. The impact is even more pronounced when larger groups start wearing beachwear together, with people in the trials feeling anything between 5 and 6 degrees warmer as a result.
Stella commented, “There’s nothing new about what people wear influencing how they feel, but even we were surprised by the huge impact that everyone wearing swimming shorts and bikinis together has on an overall group’s perception of warmth. I will certainly be wearing my favourite swimming clothes on 12th April and will be encouraging all my friends and family to do the same.”
Find pubs with gardens where you should wear your shorts here:
Ten pubs have been named as finalists in the Community Pub Hero Awards, organised by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) and sponsored by Matthew Clark.
The shortlisted pubs all impressed the judges with their support for local communities during the Covid lockdowns, whether by offering vital supplies for residents, cooking hot meals for the elderly or countering social isolation through online quizzes or chats. The awards attracted 115 entries, including 60 from MPs who nominated pubs in their constituencies, as well as direct submissions from pubs. The finalists will now be judged and the overall winner announced later this spring in an online presentation event attended by finalists and their MPs.
This is the third year for the competition, which has been reshaped and renamed – it was formerly Charity Pub of the Year – to focus on community support rather than traditional charity fundraising. Despite pubs being closed for much of the entry window, more entries were received than for the last competition in 2019. Judging was carried out by a panel of experts drawn from across the pub industry.
PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “Our heartfelt congratulations go to these pubs, who have all earned their place in the finals by going the extra mile and beyond during the lockdowns. Traditional, event-led charity fundraising in pubs was made next to impossible when pubs had to close in March last year, but that didn’t stop licensees and their teams from doing all they could to support their local communities, despite frequently facing hardship and uncertainty themselves.
“Choosing the 10 finalists was a real challenge for the judges, as every pub who entered had a strong story to tell. Those who have reached the shortlist should be very proud of their achievement.”
Richard Hayhoe, Marketing Director, Matthew Clark added: “We were delighted to support this competition for a third year and pleased with the response from pubs and the many MPs who nominated a ‘hero’ in their constituency. The fantastic work done by so many licensees and teams during the lockdowns and periods of restricted trading over the last year have provided a vital lifeline to countless people, and prove that pubs are genuinely a force for good in their communities.”
Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “These awards have been a great opportunity for MPs to celebrate how landladies and landlords in their constituencies have stepped up to the mark to support their community during the pandemic. Yet again we have seen that pubs are the antidote to isolation.”
The Angel & Crown, Richmond
Licensee: Nick Botting
MP: Sarah Olney
The team at this Fuller’s pub, led by licensee Nick Botting, jumped into action as soon as lockdown was announced, providing hot food and drinks, clothing and toiletries to anyone in need, as well as pairing with local homeless organisation SPEAR to help find accommodation for people. At the height of the first lockdown, they were serving up to 70 people a day, initially funded by Nick but as demand grew, local residents stepped up to continue the service. In total, the Angel & Crown served 5,000 hot meals, 6,000 cups of tea and 7,000 bottles of water to local people in need.
When lockdown was announced in March 2020, the Bevy’s team of volunteers and staff decided they would cook and deliver hot meals three times a week to ensure that none of the elderly attendees of our regular lunch clubs went hungry. Delivering the Bevy Meals on Wheels provided not just dinner, but a friendly face and socially distanced chat, as most of these people were self-isolating. The team worked with local schools, churches, charities and community groups and with Fareshare, to use ingredients that would otherwise have gone to land fill. The team served more than 6,000 meals and staged a number of online pub quizzes to keep the community connected, including the world’s first online deaf-friendly quiz. On the August Bank Holiday, the Bevy hosted a free family fun day offering socially-distanced arts crafts and fun for local children.
The Bowgie Inn used its position overlooking beautiful Crantock beach to offer people uplifting support and compassion during lockdown. Every day, owner Sally Pickles streamed daily live video streams from the beach on social media, so people were able to experience the magic of Cornwall, with thousands of viewers watching and hundreds commenting, not just in the UK, but around the world. People shared their memories of Cornwall, and it was clear the daily videos were making lockdown life a little bit easier as they enjoyed the sound of the sea, watched the waves and stayed connected to the coast. In addition, The Bowgie hosted virtual live music gigs raising money for the NHS, streamed on Facebook straight to people’s living rooms (watched by over 20,000 people), as well as a Virtual Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, an Easter Drawing Competition, free weekly Virtual Live Yoga sessions and ‘thank you’ campaigns giving out Bowgie vouchers to local heroes on the front-line of the pandemic.
When Covid and lockdown struck, the team at Admiral Taverns pub The Clifton Arms were determined to stay connected with their community. Led by licensee Carole Davis, the team started sending out boxes of essential groceries to vulnerable locals. They sent fruit baskets to keep staff at local hospitals and care homes healthy, provided TVs and radios for care home residents, and hot meals and warm clothing for the homeless. At the start of lockdown, they donated 60 Easter lunches for local postal workers. Just as importantly, Carole and her team are always available to help anyone in need. As one local said: “It doesn’t matter what a person asks for, this community pub and its landlord and landlady, and a team of dedicated customers, will make sure they get it.”
Licensees Adam & Suzanne Franklin at Ei pub The Horse & Jockey, cooked and delivered a total of 15,000 free hot meals to vulnerable and shielding local residents, sent out 1,000 care packages, shopped for the community and collected and dropped off medication. They also ran a ‘listening ear’ service, calling everyone on their hot meal service to check on them and offer a chat. In all of this, they were helped by a band of 50 volunteers, who came forward within hours of an appeal from Suzanne. After the end of the first lockdown, the pub created a permanent community kitchen to continue helping those in need.
When The Mowden shut its doors in March 2020, licensees Simon & Rachel Leadbetter offered to turn their surplus food stock into meals for local vulnerable people. Their Facebook post led to around 40 meals being delivered in the first week of lockdown, and as word spread – with local press and the BBC covering the story – requests flooded in. Over the next 10 weeks, Simon & Rachel and a team of helpers worked six days a week to deliver 900 meals to elderly and vulnerable locals, funded by £9,500 in donations to a justgiving page. Simon said: “It was a difficult time for the business, but helping others in our community really helped us and gave us a focus in such strange times.”
The team at the Old Courts, led by licensee Rebecca Davenport, delivered 700 food parcels to local people in need, and a further 10,000 packed lunches to children during school holidays. They also made over 900 phone calls to isolated residents. The pub supports a number of local arts and music community projects so during lockdown they also collected unwanted musical instruments for children who wanted to learn but couldn’t afford an instrument – a great way to turn lockdown into a learning opportunity for youngsters. Other groups helped by the Old Courts include the Wigan Autistic Theatre Company, School of Rock and Over-50 Jammers.
On the day after lockdown, licensee Rob Scahill decided to turn his pub into a shop. Within a couple of days, he had stocked his store by reaching out to suppliers, staff and friends offering to volunteer, and help from Greene King. With this support to make the shop viable, Rob chose to make it a not-for-profit operation and, in flash of inspiration, added 20% to the cost price of items with that amount going to a new Baldock Musicians Support Fund – founded by Rob to support local musicians who would be struggling without the pub gigs they relied upon to make ends meet. The Orange Tree shop opened every day, firstly for ‘priority’ customers including vulnerable and NHS workers, giving them a safe shopping environment before it opened to other residents. Rob also continued the pub’s much-loved quiz going through lockdown, with more than 100 people joining online every Tuesday. Rob said: “I am so proud to be able to say that I never closed my doors. The Baldock Musicians Fund is now closed but in the 15 weeks from the first Saturday of lockdown, we raised an utterly incredible £22,119.25.”
The Portobello Inn, West Kingsdown, near Sevenoaks, Kent
Licensees: Charmain & Steven Powell
MP: Laura Trott
At the start of lockdown and the height of panic buying, the team at the Portobello were concerned about the possible impact on local elderly and vulnerable, who might not have enough food to eat. Licensees Charmain and Steven Powell decided to make use of stock they had in the kitchen and put a message out to the community offering homemade lasagne, making 18 deliveries in the village. Next week, the number increased to 70 meals and as word spread, they appealed for donations of money and food ingredients. Soon, they were delivering two hot meals a day, 2 or 3 times a week, to 100 people. Hearing about the great work the pub was doing, the COOK branch in Sevenoaks offered to help, and this partnership saw the number of meals increase to 170, and include a number of NHS workers.
Rich Curtis, GM at this Hall & Woodhouse pub, launched a virtual pub quiz on Facebook Live at the end of March 2020, as a way of bringing a pub experience to locked down customers in their homes. The response was enthusiastic and soon the quiz was running twice a day: a family-friendly one at 5.00 pm – staged with help from Rich’s 9-year-old son Oliver – and one for adults at 8.00. Participants could join for free, but were asked to make a donation to a charity, chosen by the pub and changing every week. Within a few weeks, the quizzes had raised more than £9,000 for charity and had more than 100,000 views, not just from the UK but globally. Every week, Rich came up with a new theme for the quiz to keep it fresh, and had a few star guests. In May, Rich broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest quiz master session, achieving a 34-hour and 11-minute quiz which raised more than £21,000 for The Pink Place Cancer Charity in Basingstoke. In total, the Portsmouth Arms quizzes have raised close to £50,000 for charities.