Thursday, August 4, 2011

Can you judge a pub by its car park?

Pubs Then and Now shows pictures of the Boot at Lapworth in Warwickshire with the contents of the car park becoming steadily more upmarket over the years. So this got me thinking about how you can often tell what to expect inside a pub from what is parked outside. This can be especially useful in rural areas where it’s not always that obvious from the exterior whether you’ve chanced upon a genuine unspoilt pub or a stripped pine dining emporium.

So here are a few rough and ready guidelines that could come in handy (not to be taken too seriously):
  • Land Rover Defenders, Lada Nivas, old Subaru Legacy estates, rusty Fiesta vans, anything over six years old covered in mud: Much talk of crop yields, livestock prices and field sports. Wet, smelly dogs. May not be too welcoming to townies.

  • Extensively modified Saxos, C2s, MG ZRs and Corsas: Expect to hear some bangin’ chewns. Bacardi breezers and Blue WKDs very popular, but cask beer unlikely to be available.

  • Mainstream Fords and Vauxhalls over four years old, aftermarket alloys, things dangling from the rear view mirror: Here for the game, mate. Another four Carlings, love! Anyone seen my copy of the Sun?

  • French cars of a few years old, very likely diesels, not very clean, junk in the footwells, National Trust and RSPB stickers: A good selection of ales, and of beards and chunky knitwear.

  • Rover 400s/45s, Honda Jazzes, Skoda Fabias, Hyundais: Pensioners’ special – full roast dinner for £5.99. None of that foreign muck here. Much indecision as to where to sit.

  • VW Sharans, Vauxhall Merivas, Renault Scénics: Family dining. Kids eat free! Take your earplugs.

  • Newish Audis, Volvos, “crossover” 4x4s: Oh, what a lovely dining pub. They do a simply divine braised lamb shank with tarragon gravy.

  • Range Rovers, Porsches, high-end Mercedes: Footballers’ Wives territory. If you’re lucky, you might get a pint of Peroni for a fiver, but can you afford those cocktails?
Another point is that, in my experience, a full car park by no means always implies no seating room inside. The occupants either park up and go walking, or mysteriously vanish into thin air, so it’s always worth poking your nose round the door even if it doesn’t look too promising.