Yesterday I went to Penshaw, to get up close to the famous Monument and also, of course, to get up close to a couple of pints of beer at a nearby pub (more of that later). The Monument atops a prominent hill which can be seen almost all over Durham and South Northumberland.
There are many legends concerning its origin, one being that the local squire was so good to his tenants, keeping their rents low etc, that they decided to erect a monument to him. When they were halfway through the construction, the squire asked them what they were up to and they told him. His response was to say that, if they could afford to waste money on such a folly, they could afford to pay him more, so he put all their rents up! Needless to say, the Monument was never completed.
Anyway, the National Trust have spoiled it all by putting up a plaque declaring that , in reality, the Monument commemorates a Grand Master of the Freemasons called Thomas, Earl of Zetland. Blooming spoilsports!!
It was a lovely day, with an almost cloudless sky, and the Monument was surrounded by a most colourful display of wild flowers. The weather this year has been wonderful for the vegetation here in the North of England, if not for the people.
It’s quite a toil to get to the top of the hill so I was really ready for a pint when I finally came back down. Nearby is a fantastic development, which has been landscaped over acres of former pit land, and there is a pub, The Country Park to serve it.
In I went at the double, almost treading on my tongue (I must have looked like a Spaniel) and was most gratified to find that they had that fine brew, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, on tap. The pint they served me was a bit cloudy, but as tasteful as ever, and I was very impressed with the friendliness of the bar staff. What impressed me more was the segregation of the pub, a spacious room being set aside for drinkers, with no meals or children allowed in. Marion and I sat in a lovely window seat and enjoyed a couple of drinks in perfect peace. This is how it should be in a pub.
All landlords please note!