[Ed: well, I suppose it had to be done.]
The first thing to note about a town called Beer is that every business starts to look like a public house: “Beer Greengrocers”, “Beer Yacht Club”, “Beer General Stores”. But, I’m getting ahead of myself …
Although this has been basically a Dorset trip and is categorized as such, Our excursion into Beer today took us into Devon. We drove in and instantly formed a dislike for Devon’s car parking strategy: the cheeky b******s wanted £1.00 an hour ranging over a 24-hour clock in many places. I don’t mind paying a couple of quid to walk the Coast Path but I object to having to pay £5.00. About 200yds from the extortionate cliff-top car park in Beer we found a residential side road with an unexpected absence of yellow lines and bailed out to don our walking boots.
We set off along the Coast Path towards Branscombe passing the very picturesque Sherborne Rocks. Today was another very hazy day so it wasn’t really a day for landscape or seascape photography but the rocks looked as if they’d fill the frame quite well, regardless. (Carol is on the path at the bottom of the frame giving some sense of scale.) The Coast Path here snaked between the rocks and, with vine-like undergrowth felt strangely un-English. Most enjoyable.
Branscombe had been advertized (in the National Trust book) as being “chocolate-box-like”. It wasn’t. There was certainly some thatch but we’ve seen many more picturesque villages on our travels around Dorset. We did find a decent pub with some well named local Branscombe ale for refreshment; the ale was called “Sum A’That” – “I’ll ‘ave Sum A’That, thanks.” Good stuff!
Having had one beer, we made our way back to Beer to have another beer in Beer. We found two pubs only one of which had any seats in the sun. I’d have preferred the other pub (Free House, Real Ale) but someone didn’t want to sit in the shade. The someone in question wanted a coffee. I went to the bar of the pub with the sunny garden overlooking the coast. My heart sank a little. The only beer of any note (i.e. strength) was Greene King Abbot Ale which comes, I think, from Biggleswade in Hertfordshire. Hmmm. I’m in Devon which makes its own cider. In addition, Devon is surrounded by other excellent local cider-making counties: Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. Where did the draught cider in this establishment hail from? Suffolk! Don’t get me wrong, Greene King Abbot is fine beer and Suffolk cider is perfectly good cider. By all means offer distant imports but please give me a local choice as well.
To cap it off, could I get both a coffee and a beer from the bar? No, I had to get the beer from the bar then go and join another queue for the coffee. Ye Gods!
I’m clearly out of step. Most folks in the sunny garden seemed to be drinking either various brands of Euro-fizz or Magners Irish so-called cider which, in this writer’s opinion, is expensive, over-hyped and relatively tasteless.