Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Crown Inn - Yoxall

It's humid here - jungle conditions. I managed to sneak out of work early for tonight's beer ride across to Yoxall and The Crown Inn. Ordinarily I probably wouldn't have bothered, it's a round trip of 50 miles on a Wednesday evening, wouldn't get home until midnight and work the next day - however, one of the group elders, Norman, had organised chip butties. With a prolonged series of emails he went to great lengths to gently remind everyone to be there, directions were sent out, departure times, butty serving time - the whole thing had all the urgency and importance of a military operation. I thought I should make the effort.

The ride out to Yoxall was pleasant on such a beautiful evening - plenty of other riders out enjoying the warmth. My bike seems to be going well since the last round of tweaks and fettleing and I met up with Gary and Paul from over the road at around 7.00pm - then it was our usual breakneck race through the lanes to Coton in the Elms and from there to Walton and into Barton under Needwood. The hills slowed us a little, but in general we were moving.

The Crown - Yoxall
The Crown stands on the edge of the village directly on the busy A515. From the outside it looks fine, reasonable condition, tidy, nothing to deter the passing trade at all. There is a tidy outdoor area at the rear with picnic bench seating on a neat grassed patch and sheltered by trees and shrubs. Tonight is the warmest so far this year, sitting outside was obligatory. We were the first there and picked our table, Gary went for the beer while I guarded our bikes. The beer was good, pale, clear and refreshing - Smugglers something or other by Warnes I believe. The rest of the group who had cycled from Burton arrived, Pete, Glenn, Barry, Ken and Tim, by now we had two tables. Norman arrived separately via a pathway leading from the back of the pub - thinking about it now I'm not sure he was on his bike? - can't remember seeing it? - But he actually lives in Yoxall so maybe he walked?

The chips arrived in a couple of large bowls accompanied by a large platter of thick bread and butter slices. First impressions: Good! - The chips were large, thick and consistently golden in colour. They had a slightly crispy outer which revealed a perfect fluffy centre. Salt, vinegar and brown sauce were the accompaniments - just the job and so far so good. Just one thing to pull them up on; no knives were provided - so that once the chip butty was built it had to be eaten as one massive whole, no way to cut it in half - but it didn't seem to matter - we coped.

Inside, the pub was typically traditional, a couple of interconnecting bar areas, bar stools, bench seating and tables, cream walls with retro/1950's style photographs of groups of girls in various poses. Two or three real ales, cider and a selection of lagers etc - nothing exceptional but perfectly adequate and welcoming. The landlady was particularly affable and gave an impression of studied efficiency.

Norman in action
We left at around 9.00pm - Gary and I making our own way back via the big hill up to Barton - once again we raced off like demented fools - charged by the carb boost we flew through Barton at racing speed - 26/27mph - people sitting outside the pubs there should have been suitably impressed.

After I left Gary and rode the last 12 miles solo I had some sort of premonition - turning into the quiet Derby Lane I thought that for sure an animal was going to dash out in front of me and bring me down. I slowed down to touring speed and ambled along. I saw nothing until the last two hundred yards of the lane when a badger scurried out, no more that a couple of feet in front - weird!!

Home and in bed by 11.30 - 50 miles in the bank.

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