I had a little trip to Bridgnorth last week accompanied by E. We had arranged to meet friends there and of course, travelled separately, ensuring as much as we could in these confusing and restrictive Covid-19 times, that we obeyed the spirit and hopefully the letter of the Government's decrees/ rules/law, as we (more or less) understood them at the time. This did cause us a little soul-searching coming as we did from an area that has a lot of infection, to an area that had hardly any, but as we were all well and trips away have been few and far between and likely to become even fewer and lot further between, we thought "Bugger it" and went anyway.
I was the only one that had been to Bridgnorth before, but my tales of Black Country beer, cheese and onion cobs the size of a baby's head and pork pies convinced them that this fine market town in Shropshire was the place to be. To sweeten the deal we stayed at the Golden Lion, run by Holdens Brewery, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, nothing actually. This is a tale of more or less unfettered joy. Of ale supped and food scoffed.
Bridgnorth is a thriving place we noted, as we wandered aimlessly along. Local shops abounded. A baker and a butcher set the tone, but we needed food. The White Lion promised home-brewed ales, pies, cobs and Scotch eggs, but on a Tuesday lunchtime, was rather understocked. John had the last pie, while we settled on rather untraditional soft rolls with cheese and onion. Sadly too, the local ales were a tad underwhelming, but the sun was out as we sat in the pub garden, so all was well.
I'd promised everyone they'd like the Railwayman's Arms at Bridgnorth Station, home to the Severn Valley Railway. The beer was fine, but inside had been so Covid sanitised as to have lost its charm for me, so we sat outside while a steam locomotive, chuffed away, providing the classic steam smells I grew up with. On the way back into town we popped into the Joules owned Shakespeare, where the beer wasn't brilliant to be honest, but the pub was rather nice. Incidentally, I'd been warned Joules beers aren't going through a good patch. Make of that what you will.
I won't continue to bore this pub crawl as it were into evening or the next day. Suffice to say we visited a horrible Marston's pub in Ironbridge and recovered at leisure in the splendid Old Robin Hood, which is another of Holdens small number of pubs. On a wet afternoon it was warm, welcoming and Covid-19 compliant. The bitter and Golden Glow were on top form. And they had proper cheese and onion cobs at £1.50 a pop. The two and a half hours until the next bus flew by and the beer flew down eager throats.
So what's the point of this? It's a kind of good news thing really. It is about Holden's Brewery, their splendid beer and their safe and hospitable offering. In these very difficult times the way they ensured safety while minimising the negative effects was outstanding. And the beer really hit the spot.
We also met the most helpful bus driver ever, who not only left her break to show us the needlessly complicated Ironbridge bus stops by personally walking round the corner with us and confirming the next bus time. Arriva, you have a great asset there.
I have been to Ironbridge a few times. It is always pissing wet. And dead. I'd forgotten that. We'd have gone to the Coalbrookdale Inn, but it didn't open until four. We were in the Robin Hood on the outskirts by then.