Saturday, 24 May 2008

The Black Bull, Reeth

There are three good pubs in Reeth, but the Black Bull looked the most cosy on the day I visited recently, so in I went. The pub is the oldest in Reeth and the significance of the upside-down sign above the bar door is that, when landlord Bob Sykes removed the rendering on the front of the pub to expose the original 250-year-old stonework, the National Park authorities objected, threatening legal action. So Bob restored the rendering and whitewashed it, but locals objected so strongly to the high-handed attitude of the authorities that they turned the sign upside-down in protest. And so it has remained ever since, a visible mark of rebellion against outside interference!

Yorkshire people are like that.

Inside, the pub is very traditional in terms of decoration but all the partition walls have been removed so that one bar can serve all areas. I can see the economic advantages of this in terms of staffing, but those of you who have read my past blogs will know that it is not a practice I like or approve of. I love old-fashioned pubs with lots of separate rooms and booths and little nooks and crannies where a discrete company can maintain the privacy of their own conversation. The Eagle and Child in Oxford, where Tolkien and his cronies used to meet, is an example of such a haven.

The beers on offer were typical of the area and the Theakson's brews were the best on the day. On tap were Old Peculier with its dark fulsome strength, the very tasty, malty Best Bitter and a special brew for the pub, Black Bull Bitter. On this occasion, they pushed Black Sheep Bitter and Riggwelter into the shade, I felt.

The jewel in the crown for the Black Bull, however, was their barman, "Spider". A perfect, old-fashioned barman, industrious, rapid and courteous, the sort of chap I thought had died out in this country. He was totally on top of the job in every respect, enforcing the bar rules with unfailing authority, shouting out "shut the door, please" if any unthinkingly selfish fellow blundered in and left a howling gale to blow through the premises. Old dogs who lay prone were left alone, but frisky ones would attract a cry of "Get that dog on a lead, please!" It was a joy to watch him work, but I couldn't get a decent photo of him: he was always moving too fast!

When I mentioned the eccentric lady who ran the bar at the Red Lion, Langthwaite, he grunted "Aye, she makes her own rules, that one."

So does he, I thought, but they're good ones!

1 comment:

Troy Burtch said...

You are making me jealous Papastonch. These are the sort of places I dream of. Not to many in my neck of the woods.