Last night, my friend Helen and I met for our monthly session of fine wine, traditional English pub grub, and good company. Well, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
It was Helen's turn to drive but there was a slight change of plan as her car was producing thick black smoke from the exhaust. So I jumped in my (mothers) car and gave her a ride to a recently refurbished, Essex countryside public house. It all looked very promising as we pulled into the car park, white picket fence surrounding the duck pond, tables and chairs on the patio area, with blooming colourful hanging baskets - and some of the hanging baskets were even producing little strawberries.
As we stepped inside the building, we admired the tasteful sofas, log fires and pictures on the walls. Although we couldn't help noticing that it was unusually quiet. In fact, a couple sitting outside were just leaving, and as I discovered whilst hunting for the toilets, there was only one occupied table in the restaurant upstairs. We ordered our drinks and then asked to see the menu.
'Can we sit outside to eat, as it's actually not raining,' Helen enquired. We were told that would be possible. Just as I was thinking how pleasant this all was, I read the menu. The expensive and distinct-lack-of-choice menu. Surely there must be something on here that I like, and is not day light robbery, I thought to myself.
We both ordered fat chips and a green salad. Hardly top nosh, but it was the best out of a bad bunch. And I consider myself to be neither fussy with my eating habits, or tight with my finances.
We chose our table and chairs outside, by the heater (this is an English summer after all) and with pretty over hanging baskets to keep us company.
The four fat chips each arrived, minus any condiments, and a very sorry looking feeble excuse for a salad. It then dawned on me why the place was practically deserted.
Helen was lucky, she got extra in her salad - a wriggling bug. She wiped it onto her napkin and we both sat staring at the creature for a while, appetites slowly dieing.
Then, the pretty hanging baskets which were above, leaked water all over the bench and all over us.
Still, as I said, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. The wine was nice and it was great to see my friend.
But next time we shall be taking our custom else where.
Picture of the day:
You've missed a bit.