Today we went to Hogsback Brewery in search of a gift for our mail carrier at home. The US Postal Service only provides for 30 days of mail hold service but our carrier agreed to work with us to hold for longer which we really appreciate. My sister Mary contributes to this scheme too because she goes by the post office every couple of weeks to pick up accumulated mail - but she's not a beer drinker so didn't figure in to this outing. This last minute outing turned out to be one of the English experiences I treasure.
While browsing around the shop at the brewery Robin picked up and was reading the quarterly newsletter of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). An older gentleman starting chatting with him and told him he was the one responsible for checking on and reporting on about 40 pubs in the area. The newsletter always has member's notes about the pubs they've been visiting. He seemed quite proud of his responsibility and contribution. Robin mentioned we'd be meeting some friends this weekend at the Red Lion in Oakhanger and that was given a good review by our resident CAMRA expert so that was good news! From there we headed north. I was driving and wasn't exactly sure where I was going but generally heading in the direction of home via Ash and Ash Vale. I've done a bit of cycling through these villages but I am always lost. I suggested we were heading in the general direction of the Swan (a nice pub on the Basingstoke Canal) and Robin thought he could use a pint on such a cold, grey, and drizzly day. We'd been to the Swan before but had gotten there by hook and by crook because it is a bit off the beaten path. I kept heading north just following my nose. As we passed through Ash Vale village a small black car in front of us began maneuvers to parallel park. We waited and both commented on what a cute little car it was but couldn't actually determine the make. We continued on and the road became a little narrower and more winding. Robin had just made the comment that I had gotten us good and lost when what should loom into sight but the Swan! Ha! Just like I knew what I was doing! We pulled in laughing and trying to figure out how that had happened. It was about 11:40 so the place was empty. We ordered some beers and read the menus and boards to decide what the have for lunch. Our timing was perfect because within another 20 minutes the place was packed! And then guess who should arrive but the man with the cute little black car! Robin had a little chat with him while we waited for our food. We happened to be walking out of the pub at the same time so went to have a closer look. He was quite happy to tell us all about his little Austin. It was a retirement project and he'd had it 7 years. He said he took it out a couple of times a week. We mentioned we'd seen him in the village and he rather sheepishly admitted he'd stopped there to pick up "a crunchy (or crusty?) roll and a naughty cake" before heading to the pub for a couple of pints. What a great character! He even let Robin sit in the driver's seat for a photo:
This was a great day for cars too as we'd seen one of my little Nissan Figaro's for sale in North Camp earlier. I must find a way to get one of these!