Shepshed Pete is pretty much always spot on in the comments section and he hit the nail on the head after my latest post had a ‘gentle nudge’ at Ibstock.
The whole essence of this blog is recognising the unloved, the left behind, the areas needed to ‘level up’ ostensibly, the places in the Midlands that are what make it what it is…oh yes, and football and cricket of course.
One of Pete’s first tip offs proved to be a pub that is in my all time top 10, and a Bass house to boot, The Waggon and Horses in Ibstock.
Pete’s latest gem is the news that Stephen Graham also lives in Ibstock and I couldn’t imagine anyone who suits this blog better than Graham.
Gritty, British and someone who is a fan of the global but also proud of the parochial. Yep, that’s me, I like globalisation as much as the next person, but I also love villages, suburbs and towns in the Midlands that are unremarkable but contain some magnificent pubs.
Take Olton; for example, where I was born, you can’t get any more unremarkable and uninspiring than Olton or its near neighbours Hobs Moat, Sheldon, Yardley and Acocks Green but they contain some cracking pubs.
I would much rather go for a drink in any of these suburbs than Solihull, which is classed as a pukka place to live, has a thriving town centre but fairly inconsequential chain pubs.
Shepshed Pete recognises this and so does Graham who lives in Ibstock. Yes, that’s right, the Hollywood star and renowned for The Street, Dammed United, This Is England and Line of Duty is from Liverpool and knows the value of community spirt
“I love it, mate,” he told the Leicester Mercury. “I’m part of the furniture here. I love the sense of camaraderie in Ibstock, the community spirit. It’s a proper English village.
“I like it that I can go into Smith’s, the local butchers – they’ve been here for years, you know – and people are all chatting and they say hello, how are ya and the treat me like they do everyone else.”
“I’m like one of them, he says. “They’ve taken me in,” he says.
Read the full article here: Graham isn’t a big pubgoing man yet loves his local community and appreciates what the Midlands and its hidden gems has to offer.
Chuck into the mix the likes of Whitwick with gems such as Three Horse Shoes, The Lady Jane, Hare and Hounds and White Horse as well as Coalville with The Leicester Inn and Stamford and Warrington and you get the picture.
Gently take the p*** but it’s where I feel most comfortable and pubs I like to drink in….
Take Kidderminster for example; I spent three years working in this Worcestershire town that wouldn’t win any awards for aesthetic beauty. However, it depends what you are looking for, I love a bit of what I would call Urban Beauty, and Kidderminster has this in spades.
It also has an abundance of cracking backstreet boozers such as the 644 – Railway Train DY10 1SL.
What a place! It doesn’t get a huge write up on the CAMRA website but on Friday, at the golden hour between 4-5, this place is heaving.
Slightly off the beaten track tucked away in streets behind the station this is a pub only sought out by local punters who want a pint and a craic with their mates.
It was as full as it was allowed to be inside and it was a close run thing between (Banks’s) Mild and Bitter on Keg or the Wainwright’s (Thwaites), which was in very good nick according to my pal.
I just couldn’t refuse the Banks’s keg at this time of day and it was that kind of place.
The lad next to us said he had moved in six months ago and was getting out and about to meet people post covid and that is where local community pubs serve a great purpose.
The noise levels were increasing as a group of girls and lads who were out together were indulging in some pub banter with each other.
The sun was shining, our four-man conversation was flowing, people watching was at its peak and the world seemed a magnificent place.
At that point in time, nowhere seemed better than Kidderminster and this is what visiting pubs is all about. The joy of the unexpected.