The background to this tale is The Packhorse in South Stoke, an area, indeed a pub, I know well. It’s an entirely lovely building in a picture postcard village. It’s also an enormous pub in a village of under 500 people. Back in the day it could be, and was, well supported by such a population, being the proper centre of the community and all that (from memory it sold chocolate from behind the bar, for example, because there was no local sweet shop. That as well as scrumpy so vicious that foreigners – those from more than a mile away – would be limited to halves). These days we just don’t drink that way.
The cost of drinking out is now very much higher than doing so at home, we can’t smoke (yes, sorry, the seasoned topers that are the financial lifeblood of a pub did and do tend to smoke) and this particular pub is just that little bit too far away for a wander to it. It requires either a determined walking expedition or a car ride – and we all do that much less now, and rightly, because of concerns over drink driving.