Thursday, 25 April 2013

Beer Ride - The Navigation

The warmest day of the year so far - excellent! and just the excuse to dash from work, a quick change and out. It was still sunny as I set off at about 7.00pm but there was a sprightly breeze that wasn't noticeable in the car. No problem though, a steady ride through the lanes to The Odd House at Newton Burgoland to meet up with Gary was pleasant enough, I'd opted for shorts again, plus a short sleeve top - but with arm warmers and a gillet in my little bag for later.

We cycled down through Snarestone and along the main road up to Measham, from there we swung through  Oakthorpe, climbed up to Donisthorpe and then through Moira, past Conkers, finally arriving at the evenings destination - The Navigation Inn.

I had my reservations about this as a suitable venue for real-ale quaffing cyclists. I'd passed the pub many times but never ventured inside. As we rolled onto the car park my initial fears seemed suitably justified. Loads of kids playing on various contraptions in a huge play area. There is a big extension at the rear of the pub and through the window I could see three dart-boards in a line and a pool table. We chained up the bikes and went into the bar area to meet with the rest of the gang. Inside, the bar is not so bad - the walls have an eclectic mix of home-spun philosophy statements in various typographical styles, some flower pictures and another dart-board. Tables are styled and arranged in a manner reminiscent of a working men's club, the room is bright, some people are eating, there are children running around - it is okay - but doesn't feel right for our needs. The feeling turns out to be justified. There is no cask conditioned beer whatsoever. Gary opts for a lager and I decide Guinness will be the best option. The rest of our group are equally disappointed - Pete, an avid CAMRA subscriber looks positively miserable. We sit and chat for a while but have to stop. It's bingo time and an expectant hush descends over the room like a dark cloud. For the next half-hour we have to sit there in comparative silence whilst the numbers are called. Half way through the excitement our chips arrive - £1.75 a bowl, not a huge serving but more satisfying than they looked. Well cooked, slighly crispy outer with a beautiful fluffy inner, the chips are the only saving grace. Once eaten we decide that it's time to depart.

The Navigation Inn
The Navigation is a pub for those who enjoy a game of darts - or a tournament. Who actively participate in bingo, are happy with keg beer or lager and have the need for an extensive outside play area. There were plenty in there who plainly do enjoy those attractions - and good luck to them. But for those seeking the pleasures of a country pub with proper beer and a quiet, perhaps reserved atmosphere, this is not the place.

Outside, the earlier warmth had dissipated - it was downright cold now - I was grateful for the arm warmers and gillet - long tights would have been better too. The ride home was quiet, I barely saw any traffic at all and the miles passed quickly. Mileage for the night 31 - adequate for a Wednesday evening.

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