Monday, 31 January 2011

The Ship Inn, Porlock Weir

That's the bottom Ship Inn, not be to confused with the top Ship Inn which is actually in Porlock village itself ...

And it's a very, very cold Sunday in early January - the 9th to be precise.  I've had the dreaded flu bug since Christmas Eve and this is the first time I've ventured out for a "car ride".  I've no idea where we are going, it's a mystery tour ... although as we go towards Minehead and I'm told that's not our destination it becomes pretty clear where we are going, because there's not a lot of choice left!

The car park in Porlock Weir still charges on a Sunday, in the middle of winter, even when there is no one else around apart from a few hardy fishermen.  We put some money in the meter and survey the surroundings. Beach, channel to let boats in, weir, sea, public conveniences, harbourmasters office, craft work-spaces and shops, a few houses, really posh hotel/restaurant (closed - we're here out of season remember?!), tea rooms (ditto) and ... pub!

After a brief look at the beach and harbour we wander in.  A small wood stove is burning ineffectually in the middle of the bar and it's really cold in here! Still not to worry, I order a pint of Cornish Rattler (it's that or Bulmers, so much for the range of local real ales and ciders) and study the menu.  It's a while since I've eaten anything due to being poorly and the idea of a "full meal" doesn't appeal, the only thing I've managed to eat in the last few days has been a bread roll with some tuna and mayonnaise in it.  So, despite the allure of pub staples such as "Steak and Ale Pie", "Ham, Egg and Chips" or even from the "Specials Board" "Cheese Omelette" I choose the tuna baguette ... and thus unbeknown to me, my mission starts ...

I have to say it was lovely, a foot long white baguette, plenty of tuna, plenty of mayo, served with a small side salad and coleslaw. However, it soon becomes  apparent that I'm not going to manage to eat it all, so I surreptitiously wrap two-thirds of it in a couple of napkins and slip it into my handbag for later.

The pub itself had a slight olde-worlde feel, due in part to the afore-mentioned woodburner but also the low beams - however the addition of a really rather cheap and nasty dining room (think fish and chip bar circa 1968) really let it down. I spotted a table marked numbered "68" which made me realise that cheap dining room and outdoor seating would make this an horrendous place to eat in high season.

However, for a cold, cold early January it was nice to sit (with my coat on) and look out of the window at the fishermen.  After the meal we set out for a nice walk around Porlock Weir. It was lovely weather for walking - so cold you had to walk briskly to keep warm!  The "beach" is shingle, there is a sort-of island (Turkey Island?) over the harbour bridge with a little row of cottages on it and a couple of half-collapsed pill boxes.  Walking around the island and back over the bridge brings you back to the harbour master's office and the row of craft work/shops where I imagine in the height of the season you can see the artisans at work and purchase from them.  There's also a bulk chinese/thai food production facility and a ladies clothing shop.  Walking on and you reach a path which stretches through the marshland and onto a coastal walk.  But I was getting colder and so after we'd walked in that direction for a while it was time to turn back to the warmth of the car.

I suppose I should be giving the results of my survey some sort of a score ...  I shall give a mark out of five for the cider availability, another mark out of five for the tuna baguette, and a further mark out of five for the general atmosphere of the pub ... So on that basis The Ship Inn scores ... 2 - 4 - 2

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