There is an old pub, deep in the rolling English countryside, not so very far from here. Baskets of flowers hang from its every exterior beam and bracket. A little fountain plays on the lawn out front, and a stone lizard guards its small pond. A ghost roams its cellar. There are rooms to rent for the weary traveller, and the bar is crowded with a collection of champagne bottles and every beer you could imagine. Returning outside, the flowerbeds are edged with bright pool balls, and the view is of gently sloping arable fields. It stands outside a picture-postcard village, on an old drovers’ route, where travellers in former centuries herding livestock to market paused to rest their feet, frown at their blisters, and drink awhile.
Yes, yes, you may be thinking. That’s nice, but there are thousands of pubs like this across the UK,
and TheTwistedYarn does her level best to keep them all in business. So why mention this one?
I mention it because for the 300 years until 1940, this pub belonged to my forebears. This is as close as the ‘Yarn gets to a family seat. Not quite Windsor Castle, I know, but one does one’s best. And we – the Stoic Spouse and his visiting father, the Gregarious Grandfather, together with the Toddler Twinnage and I – decided to visit yesterday for lunch. I had never been before. I was so intrigued that I actually PUT DOWN MY KNITTING.
There is a ghost, apparently, the sad soul of one of my ancestors who potters about in the cellar rearranging barrels and causing general mayhem. Apparently he hung himself down there, and still wanders morosely amongst the soda supplies and spare wine. As a psychologist, I can’t help but wonder what drove the poor man to it. There is a story that one particular chair in the pub always feels uncannily cold thru’ his influence, but as we sat outside in unseasonably hot September sunshine, I cannot comment.
I spoke to my Mum on the phone about all this today, for it is on her side of the family that this pub was owned. She explained that our ancestors had a hefty role in running many many pubs in rural Oxfordshire and west Berkshire. A few things clicked into place. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I live in a converted brewery. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I’m not entirely averse to a drink. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I’ve settled in this part of the country, despite the fact that I wasn’t raised here.
Anyway, we came, we lunched, we conquered. And now I must get back to some knitting, and listening to some attempts by the Gregarious Grandfather to persuade me to buy a skein of qiviut, because he rightly thinks that it sounds like yarny heaven. If I succumb to the pressure, be sure to know that I will blog about it mightily here
whilst hoping that my bank statement gets lost in the post.