I know that it has been a while since I was last able to make an entry here so, if I have any readers, please accept my apologies. I really must give this blog more time.
Anyway, lunch today for Denise and me at the Swan at Marbury, a Christmas treat for us both. Never been here before but I have heard it spoken of favourably and, well, no wonder. Recently refurbished to a very high standard and this pub ticks nearly all the boxes, i.e. adequate parking (actually more than adequate), lots of outdoor seating, great decor (but unobtrusive with it), well judged lighting, un-coordinated furniture (creating a homely ambience), spacious and plentiful seating, a central bar, newspapers provided, immaculate loos with paper towels.
The menu was more imaginative that most pubs offer and reasonably priced. The food was excellent; Denise had a black pudding in batter with relish for a starter followed by steamed steak pudding, and pronounced both dishes excellent. I had pickled salmon followed by battered haddock, again both very good. Portions were generous, more than either of us could finish. The bill came to £55 including drinks.
The clinchers, that put this pub up there with those great local pubs, The Cholmondely Arms near Malpas, The Hand and Trumpet at Wrinehill and The Combermere Arms at Burley Dam, are friendly and efficient staff (the fact that at least two of them were bright and attractive is not necessarily relevant, although it is probably an offence to even guess at whatever gender they may have elected to be identified as today), a range of real ales (lacking, though, a “big hitter” such as the Abbot or Jaipur or Three Tuns XXX) and, by far the most important, dogs not simply admitted, but welcomed (dog treats on the bar).
What made our visit special was the presence at the next table of a large party that included Sir Ranulph Fiennes (named by the Guinness Book of Records as ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’).