The Hunter's Column

The Costa Del Glosta

The Big Idea this year was the Staycation. The Weathermen and Weathergirls had all promised us a big, bright, barbeque summer, although it turned out that the original Weather Girls got a bit nearer the mark, back in '82, with a forecast that has more or less stood the test of time ever since, "It's raining, men!" But we're
British and we're used to it andů I'd come up with a Better Idea. Now the Stalecation doesn't sound very fresh or inviting, but a stay-at-home-ale-vacation sounded more like a Summer Holiday to me, than anything Cliff Richard would ever come up with, Shadows or no shadows. With a Stalecation, you're not forced to roast abroad and you're free to roam the entire length and breadth of the kingdom, the Land of the Good Beer Guide. Welcome to Beer Heaven, British Style.

After a very dry run, sailing the Med earlier in the year, where I'd been sea-sick, soaked and aleless for a week (absolutely pintless!), I decided that it was time to
take to the Severn Seas and set the compass south towards the distant shores of Gloucester, City of The Magnificent Severn. This can be a hazardous journey in
itself, with tidal currents, 2 big locks and 6 pubs to negotiate on the way down, 3 of which are GBG listed. The seventh, The Red Lion doesn't have any moorings and is on a dodgy bend in the river, with sunken galleons etc. lurking just below the surface. Next to it is Wainlode Hill and in The Lion, there were some great old photos of days gone by, when half of Gloucestershire seemed to turn out, to convert the 'beach' just below the multi-coloured cliffs, into a mini-Benidorm; their very own Costa Del Glosta.

I did get on t'internet to check out a few drinking establishments and, in doing so, came across a most unfortunate reference to my current place of abode. We'd
chosen it because of its wealth of antiquated buildings, diverse watering holes and abundance of equally diverse and antiquated inhabitants. When I saw the comment "Tewkesbury can be 'Rough-as-F**k' at the weekends", I nearly spilt my pint. I don't know who these allegedly 'Rough Folk' are, but if anybody thinks that Tewkesbury is rough, they don't know what rough is.

Now Gloucester has a bit of a reputation but we've always found it fairly quiet at night. There are good places to drink and I've not been slung out of any of them yet. I'll mention just a few. Robert Raikes House, surprisingly, does not sell real ale. For some reason Samuel Smith has made the trip from Yorkshire to Gloucester and forgotten to bring his best beer with him. The house he has renovated was that of Robert Raikes, a philanthropist (didn't mind buying a round), who was born in the town in 1736. Sam has done a fantastic job, one worthy of English Heritage. It's a timber structure, with lots of small rooms and snugs, filled with tall settles and fine furniture. Why Sam has shot himself in the foot, by not bringing any of his hand pumps down with him, I do not know. But if you just think Belgian, try his Organic Wheat Beer or Pure Brewed Lager; you won't be disappointed. It's directly opposite the CafÚ Rene and not far from the revitalised Fountain Inn. After checking a few ales in the always interesting Dick Whittington we moved on to the Black Country, or so I thought, after being recognised for my lilting Birmingham accent (they all talk like that where I come from). I was welcomed by a young chap, at The Pig Inn The City, who was B.C. born and bred, previously having worked at Ma Pardoes, Netherton, both behind the bar and in their Swan Brewery. Yow cor beat tha', can ya? Now
that's what I call a proper accent. In the middle of Gloucester City, I felt completely at 'ome and the ale was second to none. Wor else d'ya need from an 'oliday?
Gi' me a Stalecation in The Costa Del Glosta any day o' the wik. Awright?

Bill Hunt

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tewkesbury pub scoops real ale award - Click here to read story