Sunday, 8 November 2015

Last Orders

The inspiration behind the pub in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Although I now live in Wales I grew up in Hampshire, where every village had a pub—or six! Nightclubs were expensive, so my friends and I would head to a different pub each Saturday night, taking it in turns to be the designated driver. There was The Swordfish (surrounded by pine trees and overlooking the sea) and The Belle Vu, which we loved for the long list of cocktails we never quite got to the end of. The Rising Sun, beside the River Hamble at Warsash, was handily within walking distance but my favourite was The Lone Barn at Bursledon.

As the name suggests, The Lone Barn was a real 19th century barn, which had been moved brick-by-brick from Winchester and relocated beside another pub called The Fox & Hounds. It was very rustic, with farming tools hanging up around the walls, a flagstone floor and a couple of stuffed owls perched up high on the exposed oak beams. At least, I hope they were stuffed—they certainly never moved! The seats were either hacked from wooden barrels or long wooden benches, and every Easter a hot cross bun would be nailed to one of the beams for good luck. Where The Belle Vu had fancy cocktails, with more piña than colada, The Lone Barn’s speciality was fruit wines, with every flavour you could imagine.

The Lone Barn made such an impression it eventually made it into Smoke Gets in Your Eyes as ‘The Stables’. Unlike The Swordfish and The Belle Vu, which were both turned into flats, The Lone Barn is still there, much smarter now, as part of a pub/restaurant chain.

I wonder if the stuffed owl is still there?

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