I have been reminded by Rainman and Sarah Chertsey that I have yet to deliver my promised report on the amazing Anchor pub at Caunsall on the Staffs and Worcs. I was saving it for a rainy day, but rainy days seem in short supply for once and I have a hot lazy afternoon in prospect so here goes.
Actually it was Sarah who recommended this pub to us and as her taste in pubs is known to be impeccable we thought we should follow her advice. Accordingly we moored up at Caunsall bridge on a Sunday evening and took the short walk into the village to find the pub. It was about twenty to seven when we arrived only to find that opening time was seven pm. We didn't seem to be the only ones who had made this mistake as there were a few people waiting in their cars in the car park. Little did we realise the real reason they were there early.
Ten to seven came and we noticed there were more people waiting in the little back garden. We sat on the steps by the side entrance and were joined by two youngsters who turned out to be bar staff waiting to be let in. More people were arriving and some were now by the front door, including a gent in a pony and trap.
"Is there something on tonight?" We asked the bar staff. "Oh no, it's always like this, packed every night. If you want to get a seat, I should go and stand on the front steps and when we open the door head straight for the seats by the window or you won't get a table."
And so we did. Inside was a rectangular room about forty feet by fifteen. Decor nothing special, about a dozen small tables and that's it really.
I went to the bar. I had to wait my turn. It was about two minutes past seven and I counted over thirty people in the room and more were coming in! An hour later this little pub had well over fifty people in it. It was heaving. Half were drinking beer, the other half cider. Everyone was eating the same thing. Cobs.
The choice of food was minimal to say the least. All you could have was a cob. or two. or three. Cobs (large read rolls) filled with thick slabs of ham, beef or cheese. With or without salad. Salad turned out to be four or five thick slices of cucumber, two tomatoes quartered, a bit of lettuce and half an onion thick sliced. And they were selling them by the dozen. People were coming away with great trays of them. I bet they sold a hundred in the first fifteen minutes. Later, they were selling cobs to take away customers.
Most people in the pub seemed to know each other and they were all nattering ten to the dozen, between scoffing their cobs that is. Most were in the thirty five to sixty years old range, and most were couples or families.
So, simple pub, simple food, good beer and cider and virtually nothing else and they packed the place out every night. It wasn't in an especially attractive spot. It wasn't In a particularly nice building inside or out. The food was wholesome but very plain. Yet people flocked to it every night, some, apparently from some distance away. It was all rather amazing. I can quite honestly say we have never been in a pub like it. It was a good enough pub, and the beer and cider was good, but why quite so many people descend on it every night is a bit of a mystery. Good luck to 'em say I.