on the way back from Cropton Wee Keefy diverted down the A1 to visit his friends in Retford. I was asked if I fancied getting a train back, and discovered I had two hours to wait for it. The question was - what would I do?
Regular readers may assume I went shopping, or to a religious retreat to meditate, or a vegan cafe. Yet, in a surprising move, I opted instead to go to some pubs. I didn't have a GBG with me and I haven't really looked up Retford before but I remembered one pub which was OK and WK recommended the Turks Head. Armed with this and no other info, I set off....
Walking into the town centre wasn't difficult. I soon arrived at a road near Asda and saw the Rum Runner - this was the pub I remembered being OK. Inside it has two rooms at the front, the left one seemingly for games, and a large one up steps at the back. They were serving food (twas a Sunday) and had five or more beers on. This included Hopback Summer Lightning, so I opted for a quick pint of that.
The pub has Batemans signage and carried two of their beers including one from the Salem Brewery which sounds like it might be a Batemans micro plant? Meanwhile there was Castle Rock and Deuchars, so I think the Hopback was the best choice.
Heading into town next I eventually gave up guessing where the pub was and asked a stranger - who wasn't from Retford, but he stopped a passer by who gave me directions to the pub. The Turks Head is a rather fine old pub on a road leading off the square and inside has some pleasant original features, perhaps 1920's or earlier, and not with the austerity of 1930's fittings. There were 4 beers on the bar, an Everards seasonal, Landlord, Black Sheep and St Austell Tribute, so I had a pint of this.
The pub was warm, not too busy, friendly and comfortable, and if I'd had more time, and, to be fair, if they'd had a better range of real ales, I would have stopped longer. I have to say I liked the design of the high ceiling toilets - perhaps my increasing age is represented by how much importance I place on pub toilets....
Back into the square and round the next corner to a church - the pub nearby didn't advertise real ales but the Sun Inn did. This was an old building which seemed half way through a refurbishment, with an old dark area on your right with families in and the rest of the pub in an L to the left. Only one real ale was on, Adnams Explorer at £3.00 a pint, so I had a half and carried on.
Nearly back at Asda I headed down West Street to visit the White Lion,a free house. Inside, the bar, which had quite modern fittings and plenty of space, there were two real ales, Doom Bar and something I couldn't read which I was assured was local. I tasted it and it was incredibly light, although not in colour. So I opted, with time running out, to try this.
My final stop was round the corner in the Rum Runner again, this time once more having the Summer Lightning and sitting down bear the bar soaking up the atmosphere and appreciating the warmth. A brisk walk back to the station nearly resulted in my missing the train as I didn't valise it was so far to Platform 3 from the main station. Once back at Woodhouse I nipped in the Junction.
I hoped it would still sell real ale - it did when me and Davefromtshop visited in 2010 - but alas there were two signs on the pumps stating the real ales were settling in the cellar. Still despite this, I got a bottle of Pedigree and supped that. The Junction still looks similar and still appears to be a family pub, although a lack of lights on the way to the gents means its either short of cash for light bulbs or discourages those who want a wee! It still seems like a good community pub though, and I will pop back soon to find out what real ale they sell.
This is obviously not an exhaustive exploration of Retford's pubs but was a nice change and showed that even with little info you can find real ale somewhere you have never been before.