And the winner of Today’s Idle Thought is…

Fourfoot Said, over on the twitter, the other day, that to relieve the lockdown boredom he was composing a Top Ten list of pubs in Cardigan in the 1990s (he put it much more eloquently than I).

And I thought to myself, that’s a wonderfully fruitless pursuit. I’ll have some of that.

Except mine would be a different flavour of ‘that’, obviously, having been to Cardigan no more than ten times.

So here, on a complete whimsy and composed during some of my more random moments when I’m not working, and presented for the half-dozen or so of my former schoolfriends who pop by occasionally is, in reverse order…

My Top Ten Pubs In Abergavenny, (Just Before I Left)*

10. Hen & Chickens, Flannel Street
The Hen & Chicks was a friendly pub, and Flannel Street is bang in the centre of town. On the downside the pub always seemed smoky, poorly ventilated, a bit gloomy and the windows never seemed to let in much light. A smokers pub. Relatively easy to get served provided you weren’t wearing school uniform – probably due to all the gloom

9. The Black Lion (opposite the market)
Another smokers pub, where you could cut the air with a not very sharp thing, and that was entirely down to the regular gang of heavy smokers who seemed to live in there, and not the atmosphere. Usually full of early-20s hardened drinkers you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Not easy to get a drink here unless they knew you

8. The Sugar Loaf (formerly The Golden Lion), Frogmore Street
I used to love the Golden Lion. It was a fantastically friendly, proper, small town pub. Never full to the brim, never empty. The kind of place where you could go with a friend for a quiet drink and a chat and a gossip. And they kept a fairly decent cellar. So why doesn’t The Golden Lion figure at the top of the list? In the last year I lived down there the pub got taken over by a new landlord. It was extensively refurbed and it became a plastic watering-hole with piped music of very dubious taste. And I got banned on my first visit, by the new landlord who, unfortunately, had recently received a sense of humour bypass. The last laugh is on him though. He got thrown out and the pub was closed. For good

7. The Bridge Inn (on the river, opposite the actual castle)
I wasn’t a regular ‘regular’ at The Bridge Inn. but the few dozen times I visited, it was a really nice pub to go to. A really nice pub to visit

6. Kings Arms (Cross Street, near the town hall)
Very convenient for a swift half. Not a huge pub, but comfortable. Prone to fairly frequent visits from the rozzers

5. King’s Head Hotel (opposite the post office)
At this time in my history The King’s Head was the best pub in Abergavenny. A really nice lounge, occupants of a bar who didn’t make you feel like you were a visiting alien. Great staff. Relaxing and relaxed. And a tidy cellar

4. The Clytha Arms
Tucked away on what was then the A40 and is now a very minor, rural road, The Clytha did decent food, very nice ales and ciders, had a tidy garden, and was just a lovely place to go

3. The Skirrid Inn, Llanvihangel Crucorney
Perhaps getting a higher rating than it should, but The Skirrid Inn was another way-out-of-town rural pub worth visiting. Quiet, good ambience, well looked-after and comfortable, good for a couple of friends or a small group. And historical. If you go to the staircase you can see the rope burns from where Judge Jeffreys (the Hanging Judge) would send the unlucky defendants after he found them guilty in his totally fair ‘trials’, which he used to hold in the Inn

2 The Foxhunter Inn, Nant-y-derry
People, old school friends like him, like her, like her, and like him and him, who I used to hang around with a lot, would think The Foxhunter is an odd inclusion on this list, considering the quality of the other pubs. But The Foxhunter had one very special quality none of the other pubs had. And no, that quality isn’t that the pub was named after the most famous horse belonging to Aberdare’s most famous son, Colonel Sir Harry Llewellyn (though it was, obv). The special quality is that I could walk up the lane from the house, climb down onto the railway line, and walk the 3/4ths of a mile to the pub. And after an evening in the pub, the close proximity and straight-line of the railway track made getting home again very straightforward. Never had to worry about the traffic. The trains didn’t run by hourly timetable on that little line, they barely ran by calendar

1. Goose & Cuckoo (in the middle of absolutely nowhere)
I shall forever associate The Goose with its long departed landlord, Uncle Alf. Alf used to serve me cider from the bar and, when nobody was looking, cider from the special corner of his cellar. The location of The Goose can redefine ‘isolated’. Uncle Alf used to laugh at people who said he should put signs up to guide customers in. He didn’t actually want too many people coming in. Alf liked the pub how it was: so quiet that he rarely opened the lounge, just the bar would do. No food, no music. Just conversation and a decent pint of the very best home-made brewery supplied beers and ciders. This is a worthy winner

*I told you it was whimsy, right?

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6 Responses to And the winner of Today’s Idle Thought is…

  1. Allister says:

    Christ! The suburb I live in has a slightly higher population than Abergavenny but I couldn’t compile a top 10 of anything except maybe churches here. I don’t think there are more than 5 places to sit down and drink here, and if you included licensed restaurants I’m not sure you’d make it to 10.

    • Brennig says:

      I didn’t include licensed restaurants because back in those days of ancient history there weren’t very many. Besides, the ones that did exist were all wise to underage drinking. There were many more pubs; I could compile a long list of pubs that I wouldn’t go in to (for various reasons). I could do a top 10 of churches in Abergavenny. Maybe I’ll tuck that up my sleeve for another whimsy-based whimsical day.

  2. Masher says:

    Most of the pubs round here are gone. And forgotten.
    Not that I ever frequented them that much.

    The town has changed radically over the years. Nowadays, it would be easier to compile a list of Estate Agents and shoe shops.

    • Brennig says:

      The biggest shop in Abergavenny (square footage of shop floor and range of goods) was Woolworths. The biggest in terms of shop floor square footage would probably be Richards which spanned three floors of mostly hardware, kitchenware, and gardenware. Richards has gone the way of Woolies. There are now building societies and estate agents aplenty

  3. RD says:

    You forgot the grofield. And what about the lamb and flag. And the somerset arms in viccy street? And the crown and sceptre up Mardy, you used to go there with that girl you know the one, and didn’t you used to take her to the hunter’s moon as well

    • Brennig says:

      Hello Mr D, nice of you to drop by. I owe you an email. I never went in the Grofield because it was opposite the rozzers, before they moved out of there and went to the new police station (Baker Street?). You’re right about the Lamb and Flag though. Lovely place. So too the Hunters Moon we got snowed in there for a whole weekend. Oh how we laughed…