Pub visits this week 3
Locations Sheffield, Ashford-in-the-Water
This has been a modest sort of week in pubs. Of course, when I hear folk tell me they only get to the pub twice a year since they became parents, I reel in a sort of horrified wonder. By those kinds of standards this week has been a hedonistic blur. But by my own it’s a model of restraint. I suspect the same might be true of this post.
On Tuesday night I’m at Sheffield’s Rutland Arms (featured here; pictured above) for the latest Northern Lights spoken word night. I enjoy the way the Rutland can serve as a venue for so many things. People employed in the creative industries come here after work. Sheffield United fans come here on matchdays. Indiepop fans come here when there’s an acoustic gig on upstairs. And real ale lovers come here pretty much all the time. This versatility is, or should ideally be, a quality of pubs in general. But it seems true of the Rutland in particular. Tonight it’s hosting an evening of creative writing, and even among the crowd who are here to perform or just listen at that, there’s still enough diversity to make you feel a little hope for the future of the nation. And there aren’t a lot of things that can do that just at the moment.
Friday evening takes me to the Blake Hotel, just down the hill from my home, to meet the two Dans. The two Dans were out in town for a while before getting here, and I have that slightly difficult sensation of being late to a party and needing to catch up. Not that I hammer it or anything, but if you did want a few then the Blake would be an ideal spot: the Bradfield Brewery’s Farmers Blond is an excellent session beer and £2 a pint is almost as good a price as you’ll get anywhere today.
Then on Saturday I’m pottering around Ashford-in-the-Water with my family. Pottering, of course, is the sort of activity you can only undertake in gentle suburbs, or sleepy villages in the Peak District like this one. You could never potter around Birmingham city centre, or Peckham. After an hour or two pottering around a tea room and a playground, we potter to the pub. There seem to be two pubs in the village: we go for the Bull’s Head (pictured below). This is partly because it’s closer to where we parked the car. But it’s also because it’s a Robinson’s pub and I quite liked the Robinson’s beers I had at the Sycamore Inn last summer. And also because if you look at the font on a Robinson’s pub sign for long enough you actually do travel back in time to 1957.
We make for the left of the two rooms, a little square shoebox of a place, cosy as a woolly cardy. The other room, we find, is much bigger and brighter, but we like the snug fit of this one, the little window, the stub of a bar, the easy chat and smiles of the walkers at the next table, my young child reading the word ‘gingerbread’ from the menu chalked up on the wall behind the bar. Much like the Derbyshire village it sits in, the Bull’s Head is a slow, sweet and charming little place.