Wandering the alpine paths of South Tyrol.
. . . Hörte Brygga's indoor kitchen is integrated into the dining spaces, the grilling shed with its up-cycled-rubbish-bin-smoker runs out to the terrace bar, which takes you on down to the sea, or back into the kitchen where the chefs and staff work amidst the guests, stopping every so often to change the record on the turntable. The menu is small and ever-changing, inspired by the best of whatever Martin can get from his producers, or pull from his generous store of pickled goods . . .
. . . Bookings can be made from March through to December for intimate suppers, tasting menu feasts and special evenings with guest chefs, but the rest of the time Hörte Brygga operates on an 'open to all' basis. By abandoning lunch reservations, encouraging people of all ages and from all walks of life to drop by for coffee, drinks, food, or a browse through the shelves of the farm shop in the newly-converted boat-house, Emma and Martin’s singular vision of a community-focused, produce-led, friendly place to eat has been more than just realised; it’s a triumph . . .
. . . Arriving at Villa Strandvägen is like stepping into a deliciously relaxed home from home. Designed in 1899 by acclaimed Danish-born architect Peter Boisen, this unassuming wood-panelled country home sits in a quiet corner of southern Sweden’s most southerly tip, amidst lush gardens and surrounding woodland . . .
With its seven cosy bedrooms, black and white photos from the owners’ personal collections lining the walls, and intimate drawing room-cum-kitchen-cum-dining room bedecked in New England-inspired florals and stripes, Villa Strandvägen delivers Swedish costal luxury with oodles of homely pleasure and a generous dash of romanticism . . .
. . . Nature-lover and hiking-enthusiast Helena is a modern farmer, conscious of her duty to handle the land and its offerings with a light touch, but also of her responsibility to keep her grandparents’ legacy alive. In addition to her core role as farmer and producer, she runs a bed and breakfast and local tours for visitors, sells meat and skins from her flock, and performs sheep-whispering on her apple-obsessed beasts . . .
. . . She is also savvy, for Källagården, together with some 90 other growers from relatively small farms in Skåne and its surrounding counties, is a member of the Äppelriket collective: an outfit that stores, sells and markets its members’ fruit as a single enterprise. By clubbing together, saving on storage space, packing costs, and labour, Äppelriket gives its members the power in numbers required to compete with bigger, more commercial farms on price and production, and the strength to protect themselves from grocers’ price wars. All in all, very simple, very effective, very fair, and very Swedish . . .
. . . The family-run Spirit of Hven distillery produces organic pot-distilled vodka, gin, rum, eau de vie and schnapps, much of it made from grain grown on the Island of Ven, but it is their single malt island whisky that they’re best-known for. Whisky enthusiasts can come here to stay in the 4* hotel, take a tour around the world-class distillery, or just to while away an evening in the Backafallsbyn bar with its some 500 different whiskies from the best distilleries around the world . . .
. . . Here at Spirit of Hven they’re practicing the art of precision spirit production. Mashing, fermenting, distilling, oak-cask ageing and bottling all takes place under one roof. The contents of bright copper stills bubble away in the distilling chamber, barrels are racked in neat rows in the adjoining cask room to age – some hooked-up to speakers for a dose of radio-wave maturation experimentation. Next door, bottle necks are hand-dipped in simmering wax to give them their distinctive seal, whilst upstairs in the laboratory, test-tubes spin and sampling machines blink continuously. This is the seriously scientific craft of spirit-making, and distillers from all over the world send samples to Hven’s laboratory to undergo their rigorous analysis process . . .
. . . Next stop, Malmö Saluhall: a bustling market hall that’s home to grocers, butchers, florists, fish-mongers, ice-cream parlours and food stalls in a formerly dilapidated 19th-century freight depot. At Papi’s open kitchen and bar we sampled spicy Fegatelli and damp cellar-hung mortadella procured from ham rock-star Massimo Spigaroli’s farm, soft strips of lardo and home-cured prosciutto, accompanied by hunks of chewy bread and a glass of very good red wine. Saluhall is busy but not overcrowded: it’s rather like our beloved Borough Market in miniature and without the hoards of tourists, and we could have stayed here all day, chatting wine and food with the guys over the bar and pottering around the stores. But next on the agenda was a not-to-be-missed date with the nation’s top pastry chef, so off we went to the old Rosengård district for our first ice-cream of the year with Joel Lindqvist . . .
. . . We stepped off a busy main throughway into the serene Mat- & Chokladstudion world of grey-limed walls, birch shelves bearing assorted glass jars and beautiful books, with a vast oak tasting table at its centre. But this is no colourless land: this is Willy Wonka chocolatiering Skandi-style . . .
. . . There is no menu or wine list at Bloom in the Park. The menu is inspired by seasonal ingredients and changes each day according to what chef Titti Qvarnström can procure from her band of trusted producers, and from her own garden.
In the small patch of land around her home in one of Malmo’s sleepy suburbs, Titti has created a kitchen garden of dreams. With basket and scissors in-hand, we trail Titti around the garden as she gathers hyssop, goosefoot, wild strawberries, rose petals, elderflower and more, stopping here and there to smell or taste from our harvest, chattering all the way. One last stop to poach a few sprigs of mockorange over a neighbour’s wall and then we are on our way back to the city for lunch in a 60s shopping centre (us) and prep (Titti) . . .
. . . We left Bloom to wander back to our hotel, stopping for a nightcap in the buzzing Möllevången district. The Bloom card with its QR code to look up the menu and wine list for the evening sat on the table between us, but our phones stayed in our pockets and the menu remained unknown. For us, the magic of this particular meal could not be confined to a list of ingredients or a description of plating. Our evening at Bloom would remain the icing atop a perfect day, flavoured by the people we’d met, scented by our afternoon in our chef’s garden: its tastes, smells and textures committed firmly to memory . . .
Tucked beneath the Thames Link Bridge in central London lies one of the most intriguing food markets around.
Words by Elli Hollington Beyond the basics of sustenance and gluttony, food is emotional – closely linked to memory, imagination, and travel. Supper clubs have cosily diversified the capital’s dining-out options, in which strangers come together along big wooden tables to break bread and share conversation. It is the experience of the intimate dinner party, expanded out, and unlike a restaurant, you know you’re never going to have that evening, those people, this menu in combination again.
Out of London’s growing vogue for supper clubs come two in particular that understand this irresistible lure of food and culture. The Literary Hour, which originated out of a group of friends' Haringey kitchen, lays on suppers inspired by classic writers and books. Kino Vino, a cinema supper club, puts on stylish evenings of feasting from the national cuisine of the particular film screened at the beginning of the night. This is cooking which inspires nostalgia, whilst also sparking visions of unfamiliar places and flavours.
The Literary Hour has been going strong for nearly two years now. Head chef Jude Skipwith started exploring culinary possibilities with her housemates in the summer of 2015. Thumbing through childhood copies of Roald Dahl stories, they dreamed of snozzcumbers, edible wallpaper, and luscious giant peaches. They put together their first menu, and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ golden ticket chocolate bars were sent out to their guests in the post as invitations. Since then, they’ve done ‘Silence of the Lambs’ for Halloween (duck hearts, lamb shanks, and blood-like gazpacho), and then moved on to the stories of the Brothers Grimm, using pumpkins leftover from Cinderella’s carriage, and peas that rolled out from under the Princess’s mattress, presumably. Beatrix Potter inspired last year’s spring supper club, with their dining table laid with an edible vegetable patch of seeds and olive tapenade ‘soil’, and tiny blue felt Peter Rabbit jackets as table settings.
Over Christmas they made the decision to upscale, moving their pots, pans, knives and pile of battered paperbacks to Styx. The multi-purpose arts venue in Tottenham gave them the space for their most inventive and ambitious supper club to date. Diners found themselves in an everlasting Narnian winter, complete with an indoor forest of fir trees with sprayed-on 'snow' and frequent belchings of dry ice. Warming up with steaming cocktails and hot water bottles, we sat down to feast under the most beautiful canopy of branches and fairy lights. I found myself taken back to childhood evenings reading ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ as the courses began to roll out. To start: a deliciously smooth celeriac velouté in a teacup, served with a black pepper scone and horseradish butter to warm our bellies. As we listened to the words of the Pevensies fleeing the wrath of the White Witch (readings between courses continue to be The Literary Hour’s signature touch), we tucked into an adorable 'ham on the run' picnic spread of the sort the beavers might have packed for them, although perhaps their version wouldn't have had the beaver salami we sampled. Of course, there was handmade Turkish Delight. After some boozy hot chocolate and pudding with marmalade vodka, we were ready for home.
Speaking to The Literary Hour’s founder Jude, it is evident that she is utterly obsessed with food, a highly talented amateur chef learning new techniques as she goes. She remembers in particular the challenge of making gorgeously fresh duck egg ravioli, ensuring the pasta was cooked whilst the egg yolk inside remained runny. Upcoming menus are often researched at the bottom of her garden with a picnic basket of cold prosecco and crisp salad, and she has been to every corner of London in her quest for the best ingredients. While her cooking remains essentially local and European, she’s a dedicated foodie traveller, and starts reminiscing about dishes of currywurst in Berlin and chicken heart kebabs in Thailand during our conversation. In her opinion, “Food is such a fantastic way to begin understanding a different country and their different culture. When language might be a barrier, it is the easiest - and most delicious - way to connect to people.”
This is a sentiment shared by Alissa Timoshkina, and put into mouthwatering practice with her supper club Kino Vino. She brings her genius curation skills to pair chefs with a particular film of her choice. Travelling thematically from nation to nation with each individual supper club, last month was all about India. Handed glasses of prosecco at the door, we started with a screening of 'The Lunchbox', the charming Indian film in which a pair of strangers fall in love over a misdelivered packed lunch. India, perhaps more than any other country, really comes to life on the screen: the streets of Mumbai rammed with dabbawalas on their bicycles, office workers inhaling spices from the lifted lid of a tiffin tin as ceiling fans whirl overhead, smoking on one's balcony at sunset. And the food: rich pulpy aubergines in baingan bharta, perfectly simple dal, and stuffed bitter gourd, with fresh chapatis to mop everything up. The heroine of ‘The Lunchbox’ licks her fingers at her stove, and the unlikely hero’s days are transformed as he falls in love with firstly her cooking, and then her (despite some outrageously ungrateful complaints about one lunch being too salty).
While we were watching, we snacked on our first course from Bengal-born guest chef Romy Gill - deep-fried potato balls with flavours of ginger, chilli and mint zinging alive in our mouths. Then, dinner, on the scrubbed wooden tables next door, surrounded by palms, candles and flower garlands. It was the kind of fresh, inspired Indian menu which is a world away from the average British high street curry house - stand-out dishes were the deliciously tangy octopus tentacles with a cool apple, fennel and dill salad, and the hugely comforting goat curry that followed. There were also plates of pork and cabbage momos to be rolled luxuriantly around in a soy and spring onion dipping sauce and stuffed, whole, into our mouths. As the guests opposite me told tales of trips to India, we finished up with perfectly creamy shrikhand flavoured delicately with saffron and cardamom, as live sitar played in the background. Oh, and there were mouthfuls of ruby jewelled pomegranate seeds - on everything!
As Alissa prepares for her next dinner, a Polish feast from chef Zuza Zak, I ask about her particular connection with food, film and travel. “It is the concept of a journey - sensual, emotional, intellectual - that has always attracted me to viewing a film,” she told me. “You start with a blank screen and by the end of the film, your life is no longer the same. This is not too dissimilar to a journey one takes during a good meal – an empty plate is your passport to a unique world of flavours that lifts you out of your seat. The idea of people gathering around a beautifully set table, and embarking on a journey through a film-inspired meal was the foundation for my supper club.”
The Literary Hour: www.theliteraryhour.com
Kino Vino: www.kinovino.org
Here at Lodestars Anthology we love a beautiful travel journal as much as the next person (a lot more so, probably). So imagine how happy we were when we chanced across Cornwall by Weekend Journals, a definitive guide to exploring the fairest English county which features unique and special venues, from verdant gardens to visionary galleries, independent shops and exceptional restaurants. The book is written by Milly Kenny-Ryder and produced by Simon Lovell, who both have strong links to Cornwall, and have been visiting with their families since they were young. Using these connections they have gone off the beaten track to discover the venues that the locals love, while also showcasing some of Cornwall's most iconic sites and stories. For a hint of what this edition of The Weekend is all about, read on, and be inspired by all that Cornwall has to offer (or click here to order a copy).
St. Tudy Inn
Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef who took over the St. Tudy Inn, determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. This charming Cornish pub is situated in St. Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration the pub feels cosy and welcoming, with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage furniture.
All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist, such as the fish and chips, upgraded to the irresistibly tasty Monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. The St. Tudy Inn also runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales, so there's many an enticing reason to visit.
St. Tudy Inn, St. Tudy, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 3NN
01208 850 656
Surfside is an exciting venture from London-based mixologist Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender and part of the drinks company Fluid Movement who founded Purl and The Whistling Shop bars in London. Surfside has become a local hit, serving fresh food and cocktails at the water’s edge in Polzeath. Located on a corner of the beach, the restaurant is only accessible via the sand which adds to the experience.
Although the venue appears casual from the exterior, inside the offerings are for serious foodies with surf and turf platters and inventive cocktails. Thanks to the isolated location Surfside feels intimate and exclusive, with panoramic sea views adding something special to the meal.
Surfside Restaurant, On the Beach, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB
01208 862 931
Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard
Situated on the slopes of the Issey brook near Padstow, Trevibban Mill is one of the newer Cornish wineries but is already producing award-winning wines. Liz and Engin began planting in 2008 with an ambition to produce top quality Cornish wines and ciders. Native sheep graze on the land and their wool is for sale in the vineyard shop. Tours and tastings can be arranged to sample a range of the different wine and cider varieties.
Also on site is Appleton’s at the Vineyard, where ex-Fifteen head chef Andy Appleton is managing the kitchen, feeding hungry visitors with fine Italian dishes showcasing the local produce. Choose from a beautiful piece of sustainable fish, or a bowl of comforting pasta. The dishes provide the ideal accompaniment to a glass of Trevibban Mill wine.
Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard, Dark Lane, near Padstow, PL27 7SE
01841 541 413
Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving unique food to its St Ives clientele. Located on the corner of St. Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town, it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.
James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with constantly changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese cook Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.
Hidden Kitchen, The Masonic Lodge, St. Andrews Street, St Ives, TR26 1AH
07792 639 755
There are more and more promising independent coffee shops in Cornwall; Espressini on Killigrew Street in Falmouth is one of the best. This characterful venue serves a bespoke blend of beans sourced and roasted by Yallah Coffee, selected specially for them from growers around the world. Inside, the café is cosy and familiar with mismatched antique furniture, and the chatter accompanied by a thoughtful playlist. The coffee is bold in flavour and served to your preference. Brunch is particularly popular with a menu of tempting and indulgent dishes displaying a wide range of influences from world cuisines.
Nearby, on Falmouth harbour, is Dulce, the smaller sibling of Espressini which, as well as offering freshly brewed coffee, sells equipment to help you make the perfect cup at home.
39 Killigrew St, Falmouth, TR11 3PW
I’m often asked if I visited Sweden just to go to Fäviken. And it’s a fair question, for Fäviken Magasinet is a unique, intimate restaurant in Järpen, about 700 kilometres north of Stockholm, happily sitting in the middle of nowhere. Led by young chef Magnus Nilsson, with his commitment to real food (read: local, seasonal and foraged ingredients), it is justly counted as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. But the trip to Fäviken is not an easy one, requiring a flight, drive and hotel check in. Only then, being mindful of time, do you set out for the restaurant, located in a converted grain store within a 24,000-acre hunting estate.
Upon entering the restaurant I am greeted by what appears to be almost every member of the Fäviken team, including the head chef. Feeling immediately welcome I manage to chat with Nilsson without looking too much like the chef-groupie I am. I think. The room is as rustic as the location is remote, featuring simple wooden tables and chairs, a hanging full length wolf fur coat (Nilsson’s winter foraging wear) and small vases of local greenery, all bathed in the soft flickering light of candles and spotlights. Very cosy indeed.
To the clapping of hands (the signal that announces each dish and also how Swedish children know to stop talking, the first appetiser arrives - linseed and vinegar crisps with mussel dip. The crisps are as fine and delicate as you can imagine, a thin layer of linseeds suspended in an invisible crisp cracker, and the creamy dip complements it perfectly. Tick.
24 more ‘courses’ follow; a journey through amazing produce and interesting ideas. The huge scallop from Norway cooked over burning juniper branches is a highlight - soft, succulent, pearly meat served on the shell in its own cooking juice. Similarly memorable is the porridge of grains and seeds finished with a big lump of salty butter, fermented carrot and wild leaves, beef broth filtered through moss’. With a complex texture and flavour it is truly divine. The bowl is definitely too small and we want more. Tick, tick.
The brown cheese pie is possibly my favourite dessert (but it is hard to decide) - dark, caramely, smooth custard, complete with a spooned in smiley face, sitting on top of sweet, cake-like pastry. The sweets continue with some strange creations (like sugar-coated, pickled, semi-dried root vegetables) but it is the tiny, teaspoon-sized ‘bon-bon’ of pure rasberry ice that I find perfectly simple and fabulous. Only my husband is brave enough to stick a bit of snus (like snuff) in his mouth to finish the meal. cowards, the rest of us!
So back to that first question. I always wanted to visit Sweden, the Fäviken reservation just confirmed that this was the time to do so.Thus the answer is, sort of. Fäviken is a magical dining experience, a must-do if you’re going to be almost nearby.
Words by Lisa Goldberg - Taken from issue 5, the Sweden magazine.
This week the Canada issue of Lodestars Anthology - officially released in the UK on October 18 - will be avalible through our online store. So we thought we'd celebrate by sharing some of the wild and wonderful images and illustrations that fill the pages of issue 6. Thank you as always to our truly spectacular contributors - the world is indeed filled with some rather talented beings. You can order the magazine here.
About the magazine: Canada is a land where lakes glow, mountains soar and island life prevails. Wild, rugged and unfazed by time, luxury resides in unexpected corners, cities delight and outdoor adventure beckons, for nature is indeed all around. You yearn to explore, to get lost, to reconnect with a pristine beauty so hard to encounter in the modern world. The seasons astound - from frozen winters to summer’s never-setting sun - while waterfalls carve canyons, rivers become frozen highways and people smile, aware of their heritage and all that this land has gifted them. You’ll find snow and maple syrup, art and architecture and a landscape both inspiring and eternal. Greetings from the Great White North.
Some featured destinations:
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Fogo Island Inn Vancouver Toronto Montreal The flavours of Canada Cosman & Webb maple syrup Left Field Brewery Canoe North Adventures The Yukon in winter Northwest Territories Nova Scotia Halifax Lobster Boil Ontario wines The Canadian Rockies Prince Edward Island Calgary The Canadian
With our England magazine now sold out we thought it was only right to share one of its stories - a celebration of the country's best pubs. To avoid missing any other back issues, pay a visit to our store by clicking here.
Words by Tom Goble & Illustrations by Emily Fernando
With their ghostly inhabitants, unexpected pasts, famous patrons and general eccentricity, English pubs are decidedly brilliant.
The English pub is a marvellous thing, in fact I’m writing this introduction from one (The White Hart in Sevenoaks since you ask). Come rain, shine or old-fashioned drizzle, a good English pub will restore you. It’ll warm your cockles, quench your thirst and satisfy your need for quirkiness.
Maybe it’s because I’m an Englishman, maybe it’s because I like a drink, maybe it’s because I speak the unquestionable truth, but to me it seems the English do pubs like no other nation. Very few countries have drinking establishments so tied in with their national identity; meaning any number of fascinating pubs could have found their way into this article. On that note, apologies if your particular favourite has been omitted. I’ve attempted to offer a snapshot of the great and the good of English drinking dens. For every interesting story I describe, there are thousands of others from pubs and inns up and down the length and breadth of the country that I might have chosen. The Philharmonic in Liverpool that inspired a young John Lennon, The Eagle and Child in Oxford that counted J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis among its clientele and The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury, which was used by Churchill and Eisenhower during the D-Day landings, are just some of the many I could have picked.
So if you take anything from these ramblings, I’d like it not to be that these are England’s best eight pubs, but rather that England is blessed with some magnificent places to have a drink; and so I’d encourage you to get out and explore them all (sensible drinking is advised, but by no means compulsory).
Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar & Emporium
I’ll tell you the problem with pubs – they’re not a lot of good if you don’t like drinking. Sure they’ll serve you an orange juice and packet of crisps, but any publican worth his salt (and vinegar) will be thinking “Uh-oh! We’ve got another weirdo teetotaller Mildred (his frumpy fictional wife)”. But wait, there is a solution.
Mr. Fitzpatrick’s Bar is the UK’s last and only remaining original temperance bar. Serving a heady selection of herbal drinks, cordials and mocktails to the alcohol-intolerant inhabitants of Rawtenstall in Lancashire, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s has proved quite a draw, with visitors coming from across the globe to sample this quaint snapshot of Victorian Britain.
The temperance movement (one foot in front of the other please sir) began in 1835 in Preston amid concerns about the Industrial Revolution’s equally industrial levels of alcoholism. And although prohibition was never formalised in the UK in the same way it was by our supposedly sober cousins in 1920’s America, a wave of non-alcoholic bars began popping up in most towns to guard against the dangers of heavy drinking.
Although their reach was nationwide, temperance bars found their strongest foothold in the Northern industrial towns, some of the most famous of which carried the Fitzpatrick family name. Originally a family of herbalist Dubliners, the Fitzpatricks established themselves as one of England’s foremost purveyors of Dandelion and Burdock, Blood Tonic and Cream Soda and their empire grew to include more than 40 bars.
The final remaining bar retains many of its original fixtures and fittings, including the ceramic tap barrels and shelves lined with jars of medicinal herbs, and might well be credited with a bit of a revival in ‘dry’ drinking venues. Alcohol-free bars have been turning up with increasing popularly, particularly in London with Redemption and Sobar serving only soft drinks and proving very popular with the after-work set and health- conscious alike.
So popular has the dry drinking culture become in the UK that the proprietors of the Rawtenstall temperance bar have opened a new sister establishment in nearby Chorley, Lancashire. The simply named Temperance Bar serves many of the same cordials and mocktails and its owners hope that temperance bars might once again be a regular feature on most English high streets. Mr. Fitzpatrick would be proud.
Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar Bank St, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 6QS
“I took the missus to the Inn” ‘Jamaica?’ “No, she went of her own accord!”
Theoldonesarethebest,aren’tthey? And the Jamaica Inn, sitting between Launceston and Bodmin in Cornwall, is pretty old indeed. It’s also got a fair bit of history attached to it.
Built in the mid 18th Century, Jamaica Inn was originally a coaching inn, the equivalent of Little Chef/ Premier Inn combo on the side of a motorway today. Very much like our motorway services,theJamaicaInn, in bygone days, occasionally played host to some less than desirable clientele, and the inn was often used by smugglers to hide the contraband they’d brought ashore - at this time, half of the brandy and a quarter of the tea arriving into the UK was being smuggled in through the Devon and Cornwall coastline. In fact, it is thought that the inn got its name due to the amount of smuggled rum that passed through it.
The smuggling heritage and history of Jamaica Inn can be relived in the attached Museum of Smuggling, which is open daily and costs around £4 for adults. It is found in what was originally The Stable Bar, a space that (along with The Smuggler’s Bar and an upstairs bedroom) has been of particular interest to curious (or should that be foolhardy) ghost hunters.
It was this atmosphere, thick with history and dubious intrigue, that must have so struck Daphne Du Maurier when she stayed at the inn on a “cold and eerie” night in 1930. Du Maurier’s fictionalised version of Jamaica Inn remains one of her best-selling and most-loved novels and was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock on the eve of the Second World War. The novel Jamaica Inn continues to inspire and the recently broadcast BBC retelling of the tale ought to keep the bar of Jamaica Inn busy with Du Maurier enthusiasts and introduce Cornwall’s murky past to new generations of little smugglers.
Jamaica Inn Bolventor, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7TS
The Spaniards Inn
This is not a trendy gastro-tapas- drinking den, as the name might suggest, but rather one of London’s most historic literary pubs. Found on the edge of Hampstead, North London, The Spaniards Inn was originally built as a tollgate inn on the Finchley boundary marking the entrance to the Bishop of London’s estate (the 1755 boundary stone is still in the front garden).
Legend insists that infamous highwayman Dick Turpin was once a regular, and that his father was once landlord, and although neither of these facts can be substantiated, it was known that highwaymen used the inn to watch for approaching traffic.
But highwaymen were not the only inventive professionals drawn to The Spaniards Inn; many of our great literary figures made it their watering hole too. The inn is mentioned by Dickens in The Pickwick Papers and by Bram Stoker in Dracula, and Romantic poets John Keats and Lord Byron were also said to be regulars.
The inn retains much of its historic décor and is often said to have one of the most impressive beer gardens in London – it has been landscaped so that from one artificial mound there is a view of Windsor Castle. It is reported that Keats wrote his Ode to a Nightingale from this sunny hideaway.
So if you too are longing “for a draught of vintage” in a pub garden, then you may like to pop down to The Spaniards Inn. But make sure you bring your notebook, you might be struck by inspiration.
The Spaniards Inn Spaniards Rd, Hampstead, London , NW3 7JJ
Tan Hill Inn
What’s that?! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in the UK. At a whopping 1732 feet above sea level it’s a good 500 feet taller than the Empire State Building and North Yorkshire Dales enthusiasts would insist it has a better view too.
The current inn dates from the 17th Century and for much of its life was a valued part of the area’s coal mining community, serving the inhabitants of the many nearby mining cottages who in turn served the Tan Hill mines.
With the world still reeling from the Wall Street Crash, it was dealt another blow in 1929 when the last of the Tan Hill mines closed its doors (do mines have doors?) for good, leading to a period of belt tightening for the Tan Hill Inn. The fact that it survived the loss of its sooty patrons at all was in part thanks to local farmers who continued to tread their muddy boot prints into the shag, and also the development of the motorcar.
1951 was a big year for the UK. The Archers was first broadcast, Dennis the Menace appeared in The Beano for the first time, Zebra Crossings were introduced to UK roads, and to top it all the first ever Tan Hill Sheep Show was held. The Sheep Show, now a regular feature on the Tan Hill social events calendar, has been held almost every year since its inception.
Due to the somewhat isolated hilltop setting, Tan Hill Inn might also hold the joint honour of being the most inaccessible pub during winter – one particularly snow-enforced lock-in lasted four days with 60 punters. And in another of the peculiar quirks that makes Britain’s pubs the world’s best, after a mobile phone advert was filmed in the pub, it was forced to invoke a strict no-phone policy. A jar stands behind the bar, full of Nokia 3310s (et al.) as the price of failing to pay the 50p just-turn-the-damn-thing-off fine results in the loss of your phone. Now that’s the sort of rule I like!
If you prefer your inn with a double portion of quirkiness at altitude then do check out the Tan Hill Inn. It’s a warm and cosy free house with a good atmosphere and a non-ringtone- interrupted ambience – and it’s bloody high up.
Tan Hill Inn Richmond, Swaledale, North Yorkshire DL11 6ED
The Bat & Ball
Erroneously known as ‘the cradle of English cricket’, The Bat & Ball in the sleepy Hampshire village of Hambledon certainly has a place within the history books of the most quintessentially English of sports.
Due to its close association with the Hambledon Cricket Club, many have assumed (incorrectly) that infant cricket let go of his mother’s apron strings and took his first steps on Broadhalfpenny Down (opposite The Bat & Ball). In truth however, the evocative thwack of leather on willow had been heard across the South Downs for hundreds of years previous. Nevertheless, The Bat & Ball and the Hambledon Cricket Club (who used The Bat & Ball as clubhouse and changing room) continue to remain inextricably linked with cricketing folklore; the modern rules of the game were drawn up from the Hambledon Club’s original.
The Bat & Ball itself, as you might expect, is a bit of a Mecca for cricketing enthusiasts, and its walls are bedecked (as all good cricketing Meccas are) with bats and balls and other cricketing flotsam and jetsam. The bar has a white line painted through the middle of it, which apocryphally is said to mark the position of the original Hambledon Club boundary rope.
Cricket is still played opposite The Bat & Ball and I might be so bold as to venture that there’s no finer way to spend a sunny afternoon than sipping cider and watching an innings or two. One cautionary word of warning however, the car park of The Bat & Ball is certainly in range of any decent batsman and a dented roof or smashed windscreen is only a hefty slog away.
Here’s another titbit for you, Britain’s third favourite ale HSB was originally made just down the road - the ‘H’ standing for nearby hamlet Horndean. So if you like to know the provenance of your pint at The Bat & Ball you’re only a cricket ball throw from the origin of what locals would call a pretty ‘Special Bitter’ indeed.
Go on then, press a crease into your trousers, pop on your whites and get down to Hambledon on a sunny afternoon. I promise it’ll be exquisitely lazy, and you’ll love every minute. Howzat!
The Bat & Ball Hyden Farm Lane, Waterlooville, Hampshire, PO8 0UB
How many people can you fit in England’s smallest pub? Answer: 102 and a dog!
The pride and PR opportunities that accompany being England’s oldest/ biggest/tallest/dustiest/coldest pub are significant, and the crown belonging to England’s smallest pub is a very keenly contested one. Many have thrown their teeny hat into the tiny ring, but only one has emerged victorious. The compact but perfectly formed Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds is generally acknowledged (certainly by The Guinness Book of Records) as the smallest, seemingly by virtue of the fact that it has no outside drinking space/beer garden, unlike many of its puny rivals.
Measuring only 15ft by 7ft the record of 102 people and a dog seems a little far-fetched, but for a local radio feature in 1984 The Nutshell achieved just that. Pretty impressive for pub with just about enough room for 10 patrons ordinarily. In fact, The Nutshell is so small, that it hit the headlines in 2013 for banning one of its taller (he was 6’7 if you were wondering) patrons during peak times as there simply wasn’t room to accommodate him.
Assuming you’re small enough to be allowed inside, aside from getting up close and personal with the locals, you’ll be able to come face to face (literally) with The Nutshell’s famously interesting décor. Having started life as a museum of art and curiosities in the late 19th Century, the current ownership have kept up the tradition and the walls and ceiling display a range of particularly weird and wonderful objets d’art. In keeping with the diminutive theme, The Nutshell boasts the smallest copy of The Times and the smallest dartboard. And when a desiccated cat was found by builders behind the brickwork of the fireplace it was decided it was exactly what the pub needed and they stuck it on the wall.
Whether you simply like invading the space of boozy men, or just fancy a little (normal sized) drink in a tiny (tiny) pub then check out The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds. If you can find it.
The Nutshell, The Traverse, Town Centre, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1BJ
Warren House Inn
So you’ve been on a brisk winter’s walk across the wilds of Dartmoor. The biting Devonshire wind has chilled you to the core and, fearing hypothermia, you’re on the verge of calling Mountain (Moor) Rescue when you spot a white dot of hope on the horizon; an inn, with its plume of smoke billowing from a chimney hinting at the cosiness within.
With its address of No. 1, Middle of Nowhere, Warren House Inn has offered respite to weary travellers since the mid 19th Century. Like the Tan Hill Inn, this particular establishment originally served the thriving but now non-existent tin mining industry. It’s also quite isolated come winter. During heavy snows in 1963 Warren House was cut off for 12 weeks, meaning provisions had to be brought in by helicopter.
Now over the years many of England’s great pubs have had equally illustrious landlords (Sir Ian Mckellen - Magneto to his friends - co-owns The Grapes in Limehouse, Guy Ritchie owns the Punch Bowl in Mayfair, and chat-show host extraordinaire Michael Parkinson owns The Royal Oak in Maidenhead) and Warren House Inn is no exception, sitting slap-bang in the middle of the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall. By rights it’s Prince Charles’s name above the door.
It says something about a pub when the fact that the landlord is heir to the throne is not the most interesting thing about it, and so I’ll bring you back to the plume of smoke mentioned at the top. The fire that burns in the hearth of Warren House Inn has been doing so continuously since 1845. It’s outlived Dartmoor’s tin industry, survived countless freezing winters and warmed the cockles of who knows how many wide-eyed travellers. Warren House Inn really does keep the home fires burning.
Warren House Inn Postbridge, Yelverton, Devon, PL20 6TA
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
One of the many pretenders to the wrinkled crown of Britain’s oldest pub is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which purports (according to the pub sign at least) to date from 1189 AD.
Though the current building is only about three hundred years old, The Trip, as it is known to the Nottinghamites, is built on a series of man-made caves, which date to about the same time as the Norman conquest and link up to the castle on the hill above.
The pub supposedly takes its name from the fact that crusade-bound knights used the watering hole as a stop-off point on their way to Israel (the modern equivalent would be needing a wee before you reach the end of the road). Indeed Richard I himself apparently slept at the inn on one of his very infrequent visits to England, though this obviously can’t be verified as he didn’t post a review on TripAdvisor. What is beyond doubt however is that over the years some pretty strange and eerie things have occurred at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.
In The Rock Lounge (one of The Trip’s three bars) a model galleon hangs from the ceiling gathering dust as the last three people to have cleaned it are said to have died under mysterious circumstances within 12 months of doing so. The galleon is now encased in glass, as the centuries of dust covering it occasionally became dislodged and would fall into an unsuspecting drinker’s pint. Other peculiar highlights include an antique chair in the corner of the bar, which is said to improve the fertility and chances of conception of any woman who sits in it. The chair has even been used by local politicians to stress the importance of contraception to bemused teenage residents.
If you like your pubs ancient, and with a healthy serving of haunted spookiness on the side, then stop in to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Perhaps on your way to the Holy Land? Or at least somewhere else suitably sunny.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Brewhouse Yard, Castle Rd, Nottingham, NG1 6AD