My wife Tania and I had arrived at their youth hostel in the hamlet of Blaxhall in Eastern England about 16 hours after leaving
At around seven in the evening, after we had unpacked our bags, I casually asked Steve whether there was a pub in Blaxhall. “There’s just the one,” he said, “It’s called The Ship and to get there you turn left out of the hostel and follow the road around. The pub is about 300 yards on the left.”
With the birds chirping in the trees and the scent of wildflowers wafting around us we strolled to The Ship. We found it quite easily and saw someone sitting outside, swirling some red wine around a medium-sized glass. He looked quite cheerful and was wearing a sunhat to keep out the rays of the gradually fading sunlight.
“Who might you two be?” he said
“Two alcoholics,” I said, half-jokingly, as I really needed a drink after all the travelling we had done.
“Well, I am your man,” he said, “What can I get you two?”
We ordered a pint and a half of one of the local ales, Norfolk Wherry. I drank about half my pint straightaway, I was so thirsty. We explained we were both a little jet-lagged, as we had just flown into
Tania, who has lived in
“Oh 1964, 1965, it was a little village then really. I bet it’s changed now, I bet there has been a lot of growth.”
We nodded in agreement.
“I remember the old clapboard houses on that road down to the park. Do they still have the gun? I wish I had bought a property there. I wouldn’t be here now if I had.” With this he gazed wistfully out over the hedgerows towards the trees of the
Blaxhall has a population of around 180, most of whom are either elderly or only own a property there as a second- or holiday-home. Such a small population doesn’t make the running of a country pub economically viable any longer, especially when there are other licenses to be bought, to allow for the daily serving of food and for live entertainment to take place on two nights per week. There are also regular inspections by the fire service which have to be paid for.
“I worked in a place called
With this, he got up to pour himself another glass of vino rosso. A car turned round in the road in front of us and the passenger hailed our host with the words, “Where is your son-in-law?” “He isn’t here, he has gone away for the weekend,” was our host’s reply. He then gestured at us, “These people are from
By now, we had finished our drinks and were almost falling asleep. We made our excuses and wished the landlord all the best for the future. He replied, “