|High Bradfield yesterday - "The Old Horns Inn" is in the centre|
North west of Sheffield, there are two scenic sister villages. Down in the valley there's Low Bradfield and up on the hill there's High Bradfield. Our friendly German blogger Meike has been there.
Each village has a pub. Low Bradfield's pub is called "The Plough" and High Bradfield's is called "The Old Horns Inn". Though I have often enjoyed jolly bimbles in the area, I hadn't been into either of the pubs in twenty years or more - until yesterday.
Shirley and I were at loose ends until I suggested taking a leisurely country drive via Dungworth and down into The Loxley Valley. We'd treat ourselves to glasses of beer in one of the Bradfield pubs.
As we motored along High Riggs Road west of Stannington, we saw the distant drama of snow-ladened clouds beginning to sweep along the valley. Indeed, by the time we parked Clint in the car park behind "The Plough" snow was flurrying around - not big feathery flakes but tiny white bullets like fragments of polystyrene.
We went inside the pub which I remembered as being a place of horse brasses, dark furniture and the vague aroma of English ale. A place where you could have a pint and a chat and warm your haunches by a log fire. But yesterday I found something else. Eating had taken over the place. A scrum of waiting diners were at the bar and every table in the place was occupied by Sheffield folk munching their Sunday roasts from the pub's carvery.
The smell of food filled the air as waitresses hurried about and there was nowhere for drinkers to sit comfortably - enjoying a couple of beers. "The Plough" is now a restaurant disguised as a pub.
We left immediately and went up to "The Old Horns Inn", only to discover that the same transmogrification had occurred. What had once been a lovely country pub with magnificent views over The Loxley Valley had now sold its soul to the food trade. In short, it is not really a pub any more. It's a restaurant.
We managed to find a vacant window table and consumed our drinks there. Shirley had a glass of "Farmer's Blonde" - a nice, light beer that is in fact brewed at High Bradfield - about a hundred yards from where we were sitting. We were surrounded by hungry diners but a joint of beef was waiting in our refrigerator and as usual I made a nice roast Sunday dinner when we got home.
Many English pubs have disappeared in the past twenty years and so I guess it's better to have a pub-restaurant with a food-led focus that no pub at all. However, I can't help my nostalgic feelings as I recall the pub trade of yesteryear and how those lost pubs were community hubs where your status or bank balance didn't matter. They were homes away from homes. Public houses where you could wile away the hours. A great social institution that is now very much in retreat.
|St Nicholas's churchyard, High Bradfield|