You left me at a pukka pub in Etwall as I completed the quartet of boozers in this Derbyshire suburb.
Derby and its surrounding villages are often ‘overpubbed’ which is a rarity in 2019 and very often contain some old school crackers that are well worth making the effort.
Contrast that with Solihull and you have a good sized town in the West Midlands, once dubbed the most desirable place to live in England by the Daily Mail, with a selection of complete dross.
Popworld, Yates’s, TGI Friday’s, Slug & Lettuce and O’Neill’s are about your lot although a Wetherspoons, a couple of (new) craft desi pub/restaurants and one old school M&B pub on the High Street offer a bit of light relief.
Basically, for a population of over 210,000 punters in the Metropolitan borough of Solihull it is the Midlands’ answer to Maidenhead for boozers.
But, if you travel into the surrounding villages then there is light at the end of the tunnel with Knowle, Dorridge, Cheswick Green, Barston, Balsall Common and Shirley all offering some decent village pubs along with Olton for a selection of estate style boozers.
And, in even closer proximity to the town centre is Hampton In Arden where I found another classic piece of Middle England with the perfect village pub.
480 – White Lion B92 0AA is a thriving place that should be Brunning & Price but is actually a magnificent pub and in the GBG this year.
Rather disappointingly it has a train station and a bus route along with normal opening hours so there should be no dramas for our intrepid trio of GBG tickers when they head into this village of just over 1,000 punters.
Martin will be delighted to see lots of grown men in shorts and, in true middle Britain Dick Emery style fashion, there was a vicar in the back room necking a beer and watching sport on the TV!
It’s an all things to all men kind of place with plenty of food on offer but once you get past L- part of the L-shaped lounge it feels very much like a proper drinker’s pub.
(some maps for Martin)
I was there at around 5:30 on a Saturday and whilst it was by no means full I reckon it was warming up ahead of the evening slot and it’s a handsome place dating back to the 17th Century.
An old boy was waxing lyrical about how Brian Clough should have managed England (there’s no escaping Cloughie, even in Birmingham territory) and a couple were knocking back drinks at a fair rate of knots and a bloke with luminous green shorts came in and looked as though he would be there for a while…..
The beer was magnificent and the barmaid gave me a taster of the Elgood’s and the Hobsons but there was only one winner and the Best Bitter (Hobsons) was absolute nectar.
Solihull CAMRA are clearly making good choices but then again, with so few to choose from, it is about on a par with Scotland for cask.
However, if you avoid the town centre and head into the outliers then there is ale aplenty and if you can imagine a quintessential English pub in middle Britain then this is it.