I knew this was going to be a tremendous boozer when I walked into a room of domino players who were in the zone…they stopped…looked up…and said ‘ay up.
It looked like a serious game of dominoes but this was the side of the bar that was serving beer from the jug so it was a necessary journey and one that proved popular all night!
I was in 87 – The Bell DE7 6EF in Smalley, a small village in Derbyshire with three pals and this has won the ‘most full pub on a Tuesday evening’ award for 2017 so far.
Apparently this boozer won Best Derbyshire Pub of 2006 and it doesn’t appear to have lost any of its charm in the intervening 11 years…
There were two rooms and both were heaving with a good smattering of local society and, even at 10.00pm there were a group of six tucking into their food.
However, whist this pub offers food it has the feel of a good wet-led local and the conversation between our group was soon flowing. It ranged from Idi Amin to obscure school assemblies and ended up with place names that sound like people’s names…you know, Kirk Hallam, Kirk Langley, Preston Bagot and, at a push, Newton Solney could all pass for monikers in this day and age.
However, this really was a belting pub and between us we worked our way through Ghost Ship (Adnams), Moonshine (Abbeydale), Pedigree (Marston’s) and…from the jug Business As Usual (Derby Brewing Company).
There was a lot of ale on but, if this is their usual Tuesday trade then I am not surprised as most of the good people of Smalley were drinking cask (or jug) and a good pub always caters for its local market as the gaffer of The Blue Boar has put so eloquently on Mudgie’s https://twitter.com/oldmudgie blog.
The TLC and attention to detail in this place is fantastic and the bar staff were helpful and welcoming and even the dominoes boys, notoriously hard to please, were full of Derbyshire warmth.
There was no television but the crackle of conversation and laughter was loud and created a perfect atmosphere, with some excellent reading material (see opening picture).
If I could bottle this atmosphere and take it with me wherever I went then it would almost always be, the perfect pub night.
Good company, good beer and people having fun…it’s contagious!