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Dr John Hawkins

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The Harrow Inn

Posted on 2019/01/23 21:10:06 (January 2019).

[Friday 11th January 2019]
I had still been mulling over whether I might be able to get to a proper rural wassail somewhere this weekend, and was considering one which would be on Saturday night in Herefordshire, but eventually decided against it as it's just such a big undertaking getting to remote parts of Herefordshire, and I also felt bad for abandoning Chie and Erika for most of the weekend.

As it turned out the girls had plans to visit friends this evening, and also Erika was going to a trial music lesson tomorrow morning, so it occurred to me the ideal window for some sort of jaunt involving an overnight stay would be tonight rather than Saturday night. Thus the original idea of going to a wassail morphed into continuing my fragmented journey along the South Downs Way, with an overnight stay in Petersfield which would have the twin benefits of giving me an early start on the walk the next morning, and affording me the opportunity to return to the wonderful Harrow Inn, which I had fallen in love with when visiting for the first time in February last year.

So I clocked off from work a bit early (it was a Friday after all), got the tube to Waterloo, and from there got the train down to Petersfield.

On arrival in Petersfield it occurred to me that the mile (ish) long walk from the station to the pub, which is just beyond the outskirts of town, was going to be ever so slightly challenging as it was really quite dark, and the latter half of the walk was down an entirely unlit country lane. I did eventually have to resort to using my phone as a torch for some sections, as I managed to trip on potholes a couple of times. I suppose this added to the sense of adventure of getting there.

On arrival at the pub, about 6:20, it was packed! By which I mean there about a dozen people in there, which is enough to fill the main bar room. I found myself a little bit of space in the corner, and very happily settled in with a pint and a packet of crisps.

After a while I got talking to one group of people there, in particular a very nice chap called Phil, who, as it turned out, shared some common interests. He and his group of friends had an ongoing mission to seek out very special unspoilt pubs like the Harrow, and travel round the country looking for them. They have a list they share between themselves, and I was impressed that as I reeled off all the pubs I could think of that might be on such a list they seemed to know almost all of them. Having hopefully therefore proved my credentials as a fellow connoisseur Phil took my email address and offered to send me this much coveted document.

It was a delight to be in these wonderful surroundings, talking about old pubs, morris dancing, and other related topics. After the first beer I moved on to the local cider they have at the Harrow (Herons Crest I think), which was particularly good to accompany one of their excellent Ploughman's lunches (yes I know it was dinner time). I was in heaven.

Gradually the initial throngs dwindled, and eventually a bit before 9 I had the pub to myself. This was also quite lovely, and I took the opportunity to take a few photos, having not wanted to spoil the atmosphere for the other customers earlier on. I also spent a while admiring all the fixtures and fittings, and in particular spotted some prints of the Harrow on the wall for sale. I bought them both.

Eventually I decided I should probably call it a night, aware that part of the point of coming to Petersfield tonight was to get an early start on my walk the next morning.

So, back down the dark country lane, and, as it turned out, more dark country lanes and footpaths around the outskirts of Petersfield to get to my hotel, which was slightly out of town.

Partly because of the appeal of the facelessness of being able to book online, and partly because of uncharacteristic recent outburst of frugality, I'd decided to stay at the Premier Inn. This incredibly bland, banal, modern, chain hotel experience was of course a bit of a jolt after the magic of the Harrow Inn, but at least I had my prints with me to try and brighten up my room a bit.

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