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A redeeming feature of considerable merit

April 3, 2007

There is one truly great contribution that the English have made to this world and my enjoyment (yes, this is me, the patriotic Welshman and yes I do mean the English). I am not speaking of literature (most of that is Welsh or Irish anyway, and we claim Shakespeare as he was born so close to the Welsh border there must be some blood there). I am speaking of the English Pub in all its glory and with that beer that has not been chilled to the point where it is tasteless.

Of recent years English pubs have also created a gastronomic rebirth with some of the best food you can get. They also provide an alternative to the sanitized conformity of the large hotel chains. Over a decade ago, when I was launching a new software product and running seminars on supply chain logistics all over the UK, I made a point of seeking out pubs with good accommodation. Aside from being friendly and more comfortable they would happily give a receipt for food and accommodation even though much of the food had been liquid in nature. Even taking that into account the bill was far less than a hotel chain, and overall the experience was more accomodating..

Yesterday I had meetings in Newport, and then Alderley Edge (if you have never read the The Weirdstone of Brisingamen then you are in for a treat, adult or child) and on to Liverpool for a brief meeting on our narrative project at the Slavery Museum (of which more later this week). It made sense to stay overnight and I remembered one of those pubs from a decade ago and on an impulse booked it. It is The Cholmondeley Arms and the picture demonstrates its origins as an old school. It is cruciform in structure which means that it appears intimate even though it can accommodate a lot of people. The gallery has a collection of Victorian School Equipment (which is worth a visit for its own sake) and they have beer from a local brewery along with several food awards. The accommodation is in the old school masters house, so you can go to bed early in peace, without the noise of the pub. Dinner and breakfast were good enough to mean no more food for the day!

Interestingly when I said to the owner You know this place hasn’t changed in ten years, he smiled and said No, it just works like this. There are other outstanding examples of pub hotels in the UK, Inn at Whitewell and the Hundred House Hotel leap to mind, both worth a visit to Britain just to stay there, and both unchanged in over a decade. It only takes a little effort and you can end up staying somewhere with soul.

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