Sunday, nice day, must be due a walk and a pint of cider somewhere interesting! The pub walk book is consulted, Babcary comes out top of the list and off we go.
The walk takes us through muddy bridleway after muddy bridleway before forcing us to get our feet wet trying to find the stepping stones through the ford that the book promises. I decide that in fact I’d rather use the bridge in the adjacent field, so crawl under a barbed wire fence (well actually, I lie on my tummy and pull myself under) to get to it. The walk isn’t as interesting as some, but that may have been due to the time of year – there’s not a lot of wildlife or plantlife to view - although I do keep peering into the stream and ditches that we pass to see if I can see any signs of frogspawn, I am disappointed that I can’t. The lack of leaves on trees and shrubs also means that I can’t play the hedge dating game. And did I mention the mud? Rather makes me wish I’d worn my wellies.
I try to wipe the worst of the mud off my boots when we get to the Red Lion, but it’s an impossible mission. Most of it is dry, so I sneak to the toilet to try and wash the remains off. This is top-of-the-range Range Rover and green wellington country, and it’s bad enough that, even if I had brushed my hair this morning (which I haven’t), the close encounters with several trees on the way here has merely served to accentuate my pulled-through-a-hedge-backwards look …
And of course it’s Sunday – everyone and anyone has popped in for the roast. I spy Stowford Press on draught, order a pint and sneak off to find a quiet table that looks suitable for scruffy oiks. If I were a beer drinker I think I would be happy – they have a number of real ales available, and those on offer change on a frequent basis. However, once again the cider drinker is left unloved. Oh yes, I could have had a bottle of Gaymers Orchard Reserve … but any cider that ends with the letters “ers” isn’t really a cider in my opinion – no wonder Thatcher’s are going down the route of mass production.
The main menu offers attractions such as liver and onions @ £10.75 or a beef burger @ £8.25, but a small board next to the bar offers sandwiches … and rather exotic sandwiches at that! Roasted red pepper, tomato and hallumi, Hand carved honey roast ham, eggs and mustard, sirloin of beef with caramelised onion or chicken and bacon with cheese. No tuna. No crab. And no baguette! I choose the chicken.
It arrives, served in a ciabatta roll, with a large handful of crips and a delicious dressed salad that includes gherkins (yuk) and tiny pickled silverskin onions – makes a change from a handful of mixed leaf! The steak is also served in a ciabatta, with hand cut rustic (i.e. unpeeled) chips. It takes me an hour and and a second glass of cider, but I manage to leave the table without any of the roll in my handbag. That’s a first!!
Cider – 2
Tuna – (0) Chicken ciabatta – 4
Atmosphere – 2 (More of a dining pub than a pub pub)