06 April, 2009

The Red Lion pub, Stodmarsh

Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
Back to our Anniversary weekend in Canterbury (again), so set wayback machines to last Friday, mid-afternoon, as we left Canterbury town (through heavy traffic), eventually following the tomtom directions down a succession of narrow, pothole filled single-track roads (meeting a steady stream of traffic coming in the other direction and having to swerve into muddy passing places), we had played it safe and left quite a lot of time before check in time at the B&B (1730hrs), so we had decided we would check out the local pub in the village "proper" (the B&B was in the middle of a field right on the periphery, a few minutes drive away) -
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
- we pulled into "town", unable to park outside the pub as there were a number of chickens using the space for grub scratching -
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
- so we parked the bug just across the road, and headed indoors (the plain exterior belying what lay within) -
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
- the first thing that struck me as I walked through the door was the distinct aroma of cigarette smoke, something that is so unfamiliar to me now, that it struck me as extremely out of the ordinary - there was a large roaring log fire though, so I guess I could have been mistaken as to the exact aroma (I peered suspiciously at the coy-looking locals as I passed), the second sign that things weren't quite normal was, upon ordering a drink, to note that fine quality top hats were being utilized as drip trays...the barman, Robert Whigham, made an immediate impression by both strongly resembling Terry Thomas and doing an extremely good impression of him (vocally), "Oh really, your wife is pregnant? That's funny, so am I! And so are all these ladies!", when we enquired about the dinner menu he said "Oh we've got some lovely Tees" (meaning T-bone steaks - they weren't on the menu), and when Flyingpops announced she was a vegetarian he piped up with "Well, I tell you what, how about a lovely bit of salmon, and some risotto, we've got two chefs, sure they'll cope", and then - 3 hours before I was expecting to eat - sat at the bar in the blazing spring sunshine, I actually found myself being asked how I would like my steak cooked...and Robert wrote out our order and passed it to the kitchen, ready for 1915hrs (when we were due to return) -
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
- it was only later, over my (fantastic) steak dinner -
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
- that I noticed that the toilet door was being closed with a trumpet...before I pointed it out to Flyingpops I watched it, slightly hypnotised as it soared up and down when people made their way to and from spending a penny, my mind exploring a hypothetical past for it, purchased by an aspiring musician, lovingly oiled and polished, enduring endless practice sessions until breath and button pushing were perfected, used to play concerts to appreciative crowds, perhaps Jazz, perhaps classical, after applause and elegant bow, tucked away safely each night in it's hard case...would that owner *ever* have imagined that the instrument's final resting place would be on the end of a bit of rope, in a Kent pub, making sure that the toilet door closes neatly after each merry patron has finished doing their business?
Red Lion Pub - Stodmarsh
We got chatting to the patron again, after we had finished our meal, he was busy drinking away his profits (as he had been when we had popped in earlier) and he shared with us that one of his hobbies is flying helicopters, and later in the year he is going to do a helicopter pub crawl with his patrons "The only problem, you see, is that one can't enjoy a drink when flying"...

Robert Whigham...I raise my glass to you, you are unique...


Ys said...

I miss a roaring fire in a pub - you just don't get that in town pubs. I miss my village pub :(

Glad you had fun!

Anonymous said...

Robert is an absolute Gem.

I've been to the Rose a few times, and he always has me in stitches.

English eccentricity personified.

Carl - Folkestone.