It’s Sunday. I fancy a nice walk in the countryside followed by lunch in a pub …
And so we set off for the Quantocks. As we near our destination the weather starts to close in, and by the time we get to Dead Woman’s Ditch it’s misty and raining and I haven’t brought my walking boots or a waterproof coat, so I’m not really dressed for this sort of weather. Looks like the walk is cancelled … but that doesn’t rule out the pub lunch does it?!
And so we drive around for a bit admiring Quantock villages and houses and eventually find ourselves at The Blue Ball Inn. This place features in the Good Pub Guide and from the outside it is a lovely old thatched barn (I’ve heard a story that says the place was rolled down the hill to its present location – not sure if that is true or not!) and inside it is all wooden ceilings and stairs. You go up a staircase to get to the dining area and up another staircase to reach the bar. Rows of long benches and narrow tables fill the bar area, and today there’s a dog flaked out in front of a wood burner at one end of the room. It’s a popular pub with walkers and cyclists, but today there aren’t many of either and instead it’s full of three generation families eating their Sunday roast. Unfortunately the bar area also seems to be populated by some of those over-eager-parents and their offspring – you know, the ones who call their children “darling” and give in to their every demand – the ones I want to give a good clip around the ear … and not just the children. However, I glare at any that think they might like to sit next to me and manage to spend an agreeable hour reading the paper, drinking and eating without having to sit on my hands!
Once again Thatcher’s Gold is on offer (does no one else make a draught cider?). No, we haven’t booked a table we tell the barman. We can look at the menu but … the place is due to change hands tomorrow and so food stocks have been run right down … if we’d like to place an order they will check with chef on availability.
I settle for a cheese/ham ploughmans – unsure if that’s a choice that I haven’t made or if I am going to get both cheese and ham. And, phew, chef can oblige! And thank goodness for that, when it arrives it looks lovely – a chunk of cheddar, two thick slices of delicious ham, two pickled onions, a small salad, hunk of bread (which I drool at but which has to remain untouched!), two types of chutney and a dollop of onion marmalade! Scrumptious!! The chauffeur has chosen a beef sandwich – one and a half rounds of doorstep bread with thick chunks of beef betwixt – luckily for me tuna mayonnaise sandwiches weren’t on the menu, otherwise I think the new regime may just have been given the boot a week early!
The plan is to return here another day to maybe sample the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich (which wasn’t available today) the nearest thing to Tuna and Mayo on offer here – that’s how posh this place is!
Since I can’t give my usual 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 ... I shall have to put the marks for the food in brackets instead …
Cider - 2 Tuna Baguette 0 – not available so (3) for the food. Atmosphere - 1