The weather forecast was right. Which isn’t something you can always trust in UK. The weather all week has been bleak in London, more akin to autumn than summer. When I arranged to visit Nicola and Rachael this weekend I opted for Sunday as that looked like the only sunny day in sight. And luckily it actually was sunny!
As Nicola and Rachael are packed up ready to move soon I was going for the day, rather than staying overnight as I usually do. Nicola also suggested we go out for a pub lunch since nearly all their belongings are in boxes. Driving to the pub – where we were meeting Rachael’s parents – turned into a little tour to see the house they’re buying and surrounding villages and countryside. I’d seen photos and had heard all about it and frankly considered that it was ‘in the middle of nowhere’. I am of course coming from my London perspective; I’m not a country person. Anywhere that isn’t within walking distance of a pub, café or shop, on a bus route or near a railway station, is ‘the middle of nowhere’. However, it turned out there were other houses around and a pub a short drive away (maybe even a long walk away?) – The Talbot in Knightwick. As for their new home, it’s a beautiful 17th century house, perched high between the Severn Valley and the Teme Valley with glorious views. It will make a wonderful occasional country retreat for this city lover, I teased them. I couldn’t live there – at least I don’t think so – but it’s going to be a lovely place to visit my daughter. And most important of all, they’re really excited about it.
It was so hot and sunny we decided to sit in The Talbot’s garden. I even put on suncream which was a novelty since it’s been about 15C in London all week. In far off rural Worcestershire, just a couple of hours drive away, the temperature was up to 25C! The garden had great views.
The food was very much traditional pub food; not gastro pub food. But of high quality. The Talbot, a traditional 14th century coaching inn (www.the-talbot.co.uk) grows lots of its own vegetables; makes breads and preserves; gathers wild food from the surrounding fields and brew their own beer. Apart from what they grow and make themselves, everything is locally sourced except fish, which comes from Cornwall or Wales. They even keep pigs, which may one day end up in your bacon sandwich. I took a little tour with Nicola and saw them sleeping in the shade.
Nicola warned me that the portions were huge and we wouldn’t want a starter. On the basis that this was my meal of the day and I had a longish drive back to London, I ate a bigger lunch than I usually do and opted for Chicken & Leek Pie – free range chicken pieces and garden leeks in a white sauce, served with seasonal vegetables, chips and béchamel sauce. (Country pubs always serve chips with everything.)
It was such a large portion I was sure I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but in fact managed to eat most of it because it was really delicious. The chips were excellent and the vegetables fresh and perfectly cooked. Rachael’s mum, Janet, had the same; her dad and Nicola had Fish & Chips – cod fillet in beer batter with chips, peas and tartar sauce. Rachael – a vegetarian – had Vegetable Quiche, served with chips and seasonal vegetables.
We drank Peroni beer – from the tap not bottles. It may not have been the home brew but it was cold and delicious; in fact perfect.
We had Nicola and Rachael’s Labrador, Willow, with us and took her for a short walk after and so that I could see a bit more of the surrounding countryside. The River Teme runs right by the pub.
It was a gorgeous and very enjoyable day. So hot and summery it felt like a short holiday. Then it was back to London on a busy M40 – but definitely worth the trip.