Everyone visiting the United Kingdom should have experience the classic British Pub. Having just returned from a visit to London and visiting other friends out in the country it was interesting to note that there is two versions of the pub. The traditional English country side village pub and the more upscale London city neighbourhood pub.
Walking into a village pub there is an instant cozy and welcoming feeling, the landlord / owners are usually behind the bar and an eclectic selection of regulars are found at their usual perches around the bar or by the large stone fireplace. At times it’s hard to tell if it’s 1912 or 2012, the country pub is older and a warren of smaller dark rooms, it’s an extension of the villagers’ homes, the living room for all to enjoy and share their news of the day. On summer days, they move outside to enjoy the warmth and a pint or glass of Pimms, perhaps playing croquet or lawn bowls. Some pubs serve a limited menu during the week; simple sandwiches, pies and chips but on Sunday’s it’s often replaced with a wider selection. Roast beef or Pork with crackling, Yorkshire pudding, Potatoes, Sausages, Mash and vegetables plus a selection of desserts brings the locals from far and wide for their Sunday Lunch. Leisurely kibitzing and eating over a bottle of wine or a pint the village comes together to share a meal with friends and family.
In the city, it’s a slightly different story, a much more competitive market has made the urban pub change with the times, adapt or close. More likely to have been a brewery owned pub (serving just the beers from that brewery versus the freehouse, able to serve any beer) the corporate money helping to refurbish and upgrade. Rather than an owner landlord, the Brewery hired staff, maybe working holiday-makers, are less invested in the pub but still friendly and welcoming. The regulars may still be perched on the same stool as always but new fixtures and fittings make the pub bright and roomy. The style is still “English Pub” but the bar is new, TVs are probably mounted on the wall, they may host a Pub Quiz or other theme nights to entice the neighbours and the menu is more extensive and served 7 days per week lunch and dinner. An adjoining restaurant space and garden are places that the whole family can visit, kids and all, and still get the pub experience. While not on the same scale as the village pub, the city pub is still a place for the locals to gather and share the experience of community.
Whichever version you visit on your next trip to the U.K. be sure to take in at least one pub to get a taste of real English community.