A Très British Outing – Ze Pub

When my son married a beautiful British-Irish-Ukrainian woman, we were given an insiders peek into UK life, which begins and ends at the local pub. Going to the pub for a pint is as much a part of British life as a coca cola and Friday night football is to an American.

Dating back thousands of years to 43 AD when the Romans invaded the British Isles, the public house has been a cultural part of UK life for centuries. From the Roman drinking houses, called ‘tabernae’ to the Medieval ale houses offering lodging for travelers, to the ever popular pubs of today, the pub always served as the center of village life. Going to the pub remains a favorite British pastime.

Part of the adventure is getting there. A Saturday walk to the pub is as commonplace as a family heading to church on Sunday in the US.

Our fun multiplied when Larissa’s mom, her sister, brother-in-law, two nephews and their goodnatured labradoodle, Guinness, joined us for a walk across the British countryside.

We donned those quintessential British boots, aka wellies, and started walking through the fields right outside the door of their rental home known as the “barn.” The old chicken coop remodeled into an eclectic, modern, light-filled home had so many windows that it makes me feel like I on a farm for vacation.

“Don’t the farmers mind us trespassing on their land.” I asked Larissa as we tromped through the fields where sheep grazed.

“In the UK, the public has the right away,” she explained. “It is known as Public Bridle Way.”

“I don’t see any signs allowing us to hike on their property,” I said.

“It’s invisible!” she explained. “But you just know.”

“You have to be local enough to know or not know where it is acceptable,” Nic added.

Even without specifically labeled trails, the local farmers are accustomed to foot traffic.

Part of our hike included climbing over wooden stiles crossing the fences and hedgerow between the fields.

“A phone app indicates where it is okay to go,” said Larissa. “But it’s mostly common sense. You wouldn’t walk through field of donkeys or free range horses. It’s at your own risk if you try to cross a field of buffalo.”

Surprisingly, not only cattle, sheep and horses graze in Nic and Larissa’s neighborhood, but buffalo - African buffalo - also roam.

Walking in wellies on uneven terrain, included lumbering over six stiles like an obstacle course, I felt worn out by the time we made it to the pub.

The pub, an old brick home, divided into rooms, included a room where dogs were welcome guests. Guinness sat at attention, while the adults talked. Instead of ordering the usual hot drinks, after our hike, we were so thirsty, we opted for cokes, beer, and the local cider. The little boys sat politely at the table enjoying snacks.

Surprisingly, Guinness didn’t bother the other dogs tucked in at nearby tables while their owners sipped away the afternoon enjoying board games. At the table next to us, a couple played Jenga while their Irish hound stood guard. Near the pub entryway, a table of brawny locals spun tales as long as their beards.

One of the greatest features of pub life is that there is never any pressure to hurry up or to order another round. For the price of a drink, we could linger all day surrounded by charming English atmosphere.

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One Comment

  1. Great descriptions of life in in the English countryside. We can’t wait to experience it firsthand.

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