DonQui has been rather quite of late and for this he apologises. With summer approaching and various other tedious distractions now behind him, he resolves to get back to the important business of living life to the fullest. He has some travels coming up soon but on this English holiday weekend he decides to stay firmly on home ground.
After all he does live in a corner of Suffolk favoured by tourists so why put up with crowded airports and traffic jams when he can simply trot out of his paddock to enjoy what others travel far to experience.
Nearby Southwold will be overrun with tourists so instead of venturing into the coastal town he heads a bit inland to one of his favourite country pubs — The Star in Wenhaston.
It just so happens that the Star has a beer festival running over the weekend. With live music, barbecue and a wide selection of beers and ciders on offer for £3 a pint it would be foolish to pass it up.
Now DonQui has previously expounded his philosophy of what makes a good pub. The Ship and Shovel in London is a perfect example of a really good urban pub. The Star at Wenheston is a truly great country pub.
The sign on the wall says it all. The Star is a proper old fashioned pub of the kind which is becoming increasingly difficult to find as so many are taken over by chains, given a gastropub make-over or otherwise turned into identikit versions of each other.
In autumn and winter there is a roaring fire in the bar which makes it a great place to escape the damp grey of the colder English seasons.
One night a month the Star hosts “spin a disk” where you can bring samples of your vinyl collections to play on the record player (younger readers may need to look that up). One might hear anything from traditional jazz to cheesy pop, interspersed with a bit of Led Zeppelin, Bowie, or The Who. It all depends on what people decide to bring with them.
Run by Carl and Virginia, The Star remains quirky and resolutely independent.
The wonderful bric-a-brac decorating the walls are reflective of the fact that The Star has not been designed by marketing consultants and long may it remain thus.
The Star is a free-house which is rare in the heart of Adnams country. Not that DonQui has anything against Adnams beers, which are brewed down the road in Southwold. It is just that every once in a while he enjoys trying something else and most pubs in the area are tied to the Adnams brewery.
For some reason, DonQui does not enquire why, all the beers on offer at the beer festival are from Yorkshire rather than Suffolk. Taking a half pint glass he samples several of them and is pleased by the variety of tastes from citrusy pale ales to more malty darker ones. One of his favourites, from Kelham Island Brewery is ‘London Calling’ — an odd name perhaps for a Yorkshire beer, complete with a cameo of The Clash on the barrel. Dark, full of deep flavour and good hoppy bitterness DonQui thinks it makes a great beer to sip and savour. A close runner up is Atlantic Crossing which apparently was originally a joint venture between York’s Rudgate Brewery and the Hogshead Brewery of Colorado USA —hence the name.
The sun is shining, the music is good (mostly) with a variety of performers playing an eclectic mix of folk, blues, jazz and rock.
The barbecue provides a steady supply of burgers, sausages or steaks during the lunch and supper hours.
Goulash cooked in a large pot over an open fire provides sustenance in-between.
Sampling yet another beer, DonQui decides that there are worse ways to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.