“What’s the point of bowls?” said a punter who was at least twenty years my junior in a cracking local boozer.
223 – The Barley Mow DE15 9AP is on the main street in Stapenhill, just at the edge of Burton, and is one of those gems that’s a delight to find.
According to Wikipedia “Stapenhill is well known for its wide variety of shopping opportunities”…
…whilst opposite the boozer was this delight…
…the Stapenhill tourist board have clearly been active on social media but might need to rethink that marketing soundbite…
However, The Barley Mow stands out like a beacon, as it has definitely been regenerated and is alive and kicking.
My pal and I went out for a Wednesday walk around Stapenhill and Burton and whilst there is one seminal boozer in Stapenhill (The Elms) and plenty of iconic boozers in Burton (The Dog) this place more than held its own.
(pubs marked on the map)
This was our second port of call and, in the interests of balance, the walk through Stapenhill wasn’t all run down shops you know..
Situated in an area that can best be described as ‘urban’ not only is there a top class pub but, unbeknown to me until I walked to the toilet, there is also a bowls club next door!
One of the reasons I like walking around urban landscapes is that tucked away in the crevices are unlikely oases of calm and tranquillity and this was Stapenhill’s.
(Best dressed man in Stapenhill watches on)
However, before the cut and thrust of Stapenhill Bowls Club dominates this post it is worth mentioning what a good job the landlady has done with this place.
A two-roomer, although there was only one in use on Wednesday night, this was a former Bass boozer and built in 1858. It was clean, tidy and under the stewardship of someone who cares and there were handful of people in with a good atmosphere and their regular beer was Jaipur (Thornbridge) so I had to try a half.
The landlady was good value, chatty and said a complete career change 12 months ago had seen her leave the dentist profession to run a pub! “We’ve changed it a lot” was the gist of what she was saying ( I think that meant it had been smartened up discernibly) and she turned the TV down, which was a nice touch as it was close to where we were sitting (on bench seats, Mudge)
and we were able to watch Eastenders (I think) on mute, which I believe is the best way to watch it.
Anyway, I spotted the bowls club as I paid a visit and I went back in and spoke to the gaffer who said lots of people watched the games.
However, a young girl out with her chap first said “What is bowls” and when I explained the finer points she said “What’s the point of bowls?”
(She’ll be hoping the Stapenhill Bowls Club AGM doesn’t clash with this night…)
I defended it with the fact I was twice her age (at least) and we retired to the benches outside to watch a sea of tranquillity…
…or was it? Anyone who has watched a game of crown green bowls knows it is open warfare behind the genteel veneer to a casual observer.
It didn’t take long for the tape measure to come out as a young bowls star had the audacity to almost win an end and was quite rightly under the law of bowls i.e. anyone under 40 is not allowed to win – appeared to miss out on that particular end!
It may have been because, and this is just conjecture, he was wearing a Derby County shirt and shorts as opposed to the bog standard bowls outfit sported by many at the club
For example, there was a bloke with white shoes, red trousers, pink jumper and a white flat cap very prominent and it’s that sort of sartorial elegance that people want to see at a bowls club!
If I’d have been in the pub I would have let the young female whippersnapper know that dress sense such as that along tape measure style competitveness are exactly the point of bowls!
(Under 40 bowls player can sense the outcome…)
It just shows that you shouldn’t necessarily judge a book by its cover and it was fine sight to see so many people outside on a glorious summer’s evening involved in their local community either at the bowls club, at the pub, or just out walking.
(A much better option than the Pizza parlour opposite!)
This is a pub that is working hard with meal deals, quizzes, good beer, ladies’ nights and a hard-working friendly gaffer. Let’s hope it hits the jack (pot!)