Grumpy Old Man Blog #33
Don’t you just hate Weatherspoons pubs! I ate there last night and I couldn’t believe the place.
Weatherspoons come to our nice little towns and villages, taking away valuable business from the old established pubs, restaurants and cafes that we love. They buy up beautiful old buildings, usually existing pubs, and then do them up, turning them into pubs with restaurants attached, packed with people and just destroying the run-down, slightly dirty, character of the original place.
The Red Lion in Petersfield is just one such. It incorporates the oldest pub in the town and is itself an important 18th century coaching inn (the old London – Portsmouth road ran past here). Then along come Bloody Weatherspoons. And what do they do? They waltz in, renovate everything, restoring all the lovely timbers to their original condition, and generally clean up and prettify the place. It is now a spectacular example of old inn construction. And I’ve seen exactly the same sort of wholesale refurbishing in Haslemere with the old Swan coaching inn – lots of original timbers preserved and displayed, sympathetic treatment of the old dining room and generally bringing the place back to its original glory. They reportedly spent nearly a million quid on doing up the Red Lion. But they don’t fool me!
The carpet! I mean what’s that all about? It’s thick and luxurious and a subtle mauvey colour, very much in keeping with this year’s living room colour schemes, according to the designer catalogues. But why would you go to a designer catalogue for your furnishings? And who has a fashionable carpet in their living room?! It makes all the hundreds of customers lounging around with their wines and beers feel as though they’re relaxing at home. Who wants to feel at home in a pub?!!! And comfortable at that!!!! There are even corners with easy chairs and bookcases of books that you can read whilst enjoying a coffee. Lots of people take advantage of this facility, but who really wants that? Pubs should be heaving and jolly and noisy and filled with laughter. The Red Lion is all those things too, but that’s not the point.
And talking of beers – they have hundreds of different brands on offer, from all over the world. How are you expected to choose? Even if you manage 6, as I did, you can’t get through half of the range on offer. And now I see they’re having a beer festival next month. A beer festival! Anyone would think this was a pub. Well, it is of course, but we don’t need even more varieties of beer to choose from, do we. There will not only be all the international bottled beers (one was from Latvia for goodness sake!), but now they are offering a dozen different cask-conditioned ales too. I ask you!!
Coffee, by the way, I shouldn’t let them get off without telling you about the coffee, costs 99p. Where else in the whole of Petersfield can you get a coffee for 99p? And that’s cappuccino, latte, mocha, whatever you want. Any old rubbish in fact. Even down the Methodist Church it costs £1. And there you have to promise not to do any evil for a while in exchange. I bet Weatherspoons don’t insist on you being good. Ha!
And, finally, the food. Do you know, we ordered steak and kidney pudding with chips and peas (and extra gravy) which I only just managed to polish off, chilli con carne with rice, sour cream, etc, which was apparently also almost too much to finish, and 2 glasses of a rather excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, and that little lot cost, what do you think? Go on, guess. It cost £9. Yes!!!! How can someone who’s completely honest charge 2 unsuspecting elderly customers £9 for their dinner? Isn’t it fabulous? I mean terrible.