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Snake Catcher surprise

June 8, 2013

Leaving Cornwall in sunshine, with the weather forecast to be fine throughout England, dressed in shorts and t shirts, it was perhaps asking too much to expect it to remain sunny as we headed east. The plan, to be in summer garb and to visit the New Forest in the continuing great weather, looked in tatters when the first drops of rain splattered on the windscreen before we hit the home of one of rocks great geniuses, Andy Partridge from XTC. I mean, of course, the largely unprepossessing Swindon.

As the sky darkened and the rain became heavier, consideration was given to returning home to Arundel instead. It was a close run thing, but a decision was needed; stay on course and brave the unpredictable weather, or head for home. We (which means That Nice Lady Decorator) decided, bulldog style, to press on regardless and by the time we had reached Brocklehurst in the New Forest, the rain had abated and there was some blue sky to be seen. Finding a 400 year old thatched bed and breakfast, almost next door to a pub, seemed to be fated, so, once booked in, it became ones duty to check out that pub, The Foresters Arms, serving London Pride and Ringwood bitter, 2 of the 3 best real ales in the world.

it's a dogs life in Cornwall

it’s a dogs life in Cornwall

Perhaps we should not have had 5 pints each, but getting talking to two old former cartographers, ( one if whom may soon be a proud Currencies Direct account holder) both of whom had worked on Ordnance Survey map production, gave us a god given opportunity to find out about the local walking routes, with special emphasis on where the pubs were. They said they were both retired and seemed not to accept my suggestion that perhaps it was time to map out a new career for themselves. They were happy just getting drunk with us.

5 hours in a car is not the best preparation for an afternoon of discussion and fun, but we were lucky enough to find that we were sufficiently prepared to enjoy the whole experience. We now have reliable information about where to walk today and what to expect from pubs that are not even on the map. I fear that some teetotal upstart (certainly not either of the chaps we met) was responsible for the map we have, which seems almost bereft of pubs.

A late siesta preceded dinner at the, interestingly named, nearby Snake Catcher, where, chosen for me, was a fish platter than one was expected to cook ones self. Now call me old fashioned, but when I go to a restaurant, certainly one charging these kinds of prices, I kind of hope that my food will be cooked for me. Prawns, scallops and an unidentified white fish in foil arrived, together with, mounted upon, and already cooking on, a lump of super heated rock. So after a skinful in the afternoon, and not being at my best, I had to grapple with beasts from the murky depths and ensure they were cooked properly before eating. They all cooked quickly and then would not stop cooking, so the entire fishy contents has to be bolted down in about 5 minutes flat. I don’t do cooking normally and have no idea for how long to cook things, and although I did it all fantastically, it was not a restful or relaxing process. Once finished, I was half expecting to be given some Marigolds and invited to do the washing up. Perish the though what choosing the Snake Catchers signature dish might entail.

Chris France


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