A North Yorkshire mid-winter Sunday: recipe for sanity — Castle Howard and an extended pub lunch.
That’s what we did.
If you must have a country cottage, it helps if you own 20-odd square miles of prime countryside (with other bits around the nation), and can prevail upon that nice Sir John Vanbrugh to run you up something suitable. Your descendants will, of course, have to scrabble around to keep the tourists happy, to sell the simple ware, and pay for the utilities.
They do it well, however. And my main begrudging is that view to the north-west, across the Great Lake, toward the cleft in those eponymous “Howardian Hills”. Today, with a leaden sky, there was a luminous brightness in the far distance — which made it all the more magical.
Then, barely a mile down The Stray, turning east and left to Welburn, we were at the Crown and Cushion for an extended, leisurely, liquid lunch.
Let’s all agree not to tell anybody about this place, huh? It’s just too good to share.
Had I — perish the thought — any handle on UK economic development, I would locate a couple of my key policy directors.
They would be told they were away on a jolly for the weekend. They would be railed to York, decanted into a limousine and whisked to Welburn (or one of a dozen similar joints scattered across North Yorkshire). After a short stroll in good, clean Yorkshire air, they would be sat down to just such a leisurely lunch.
Replete, and rested — their fair round bellies with good capon, or beef, or pork lined — I would deliver the punch-lines:
- Here is a small, isolated village. It fosters a fine pub with a loyal clientele. That pub provides employment for — I guess — a dozen or more.
- Across Britain, two-and-half dozen pubs close every week. Yet here we have one (of many in these parts) that seemingly flourishes, prospers and plays its part in local life.
- So: how can we replicate that across the rest of the nation?
Somewhere in their erudite answers, I hope, would be acknowledgement of a good kitchen, a good cellar, and a passing mention of 5 Wold Rings Bitter from Driffield.
Seriously missing from the above is a nod to Provenance Inns. Not all PubCos are vast, faceless corporations.