Those famous old curmudgeons Waldorf and Statler weren’t the only miserable Muppets in the Woodland Tavern when I sauntered through its doors one sunny Saturday afternoon.
There were a couple of dour-looking red-faced old soaks sat directly opposite a model of the puppet pensioners, the irony of which wasn’t lost on me.
I ordered a pint of Slaughterhouse Brewery’s Saddleback Bitter (3.8) and turned to notice three workman to my right wearing impressive utility belts that would give even Batman himself an inferiority complex.
God bless the Caped Crusader. He is perhaps the greatest exponent of the utility belt – or is it Bob the Builder, or 1990s television icon Handy Andy? Well, that’s a debate to have over a pint some other day.
The workman had popped in for a pint between jobs and their conversation soon turned to Leamington’s ladyfolk.
One guy, clearly a regular, said: ‘I knew a girl once with hair all down her back – none on her head – just down her back.’
A ball of tumbleweed duly gave a fitting response by slowly rolling out the door and onto another boozer.
The two old soaks looked unimpressed as they polished off their midday pints of strong lager.
Poor jokes aside, the Woodland is a pub with a warm personality and this was reflected in the service from the barmaid.
It’s an end-terraced tavern split into two – one large, long room and one little, with an area set aside for darts.
The walls are splattered with pictures of plastered punters posing after a few pints too many.
There are signs for those great institutions of booze, Guinness and Brooklyn Brewery, as well as a fine array of darts trophies, cuddly toys, a scary caricature of someone topless on a beach and a not so scary scarf in support of the local footy team.
There are also, and I use the term loosely, humorous notices with advice like ‘Avoid hangovers, stay drunk.’
The red-faced old soaks had clearly read this and were taking it literally.
The beer garden maybe small, but the mural on the wall featuring dapper chaps and busty wenches from bygone times certainly provides a talking point, or two.
Back inside, silence was replaced by the sound of pennies being ploughed into the jukebox.
Suddenly, a dog – whose pictures adorn one corner of the bar like a shrine – awoke from a deep slumber and dashed across the bar to sit patiently by a bright red lead whilst wagging it’s tail enthusiastically.
With somewhat less gusto, the dog was joined by the thin old soak with a yellow tobacco-tinged moustache, and the pair set off for a walk, although it was unclear who was taking who for a walk.
But, having witnessed this touching scene between man and beast, I had new-found respect for this particular old soak.
Perhaps he wasn’t such a Muppet after all.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
Address: 3 Regent Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 5HW. Map here
Atmosphere: *** Quiet, but those punters propping up the bar were good-natured and lively. I’d like to come back on a night time to see what this boozer is really made of.
Decor: *** Fluffy toys, punters’ pictures, murals, hanging baskets and a Union Flag brightened up the white-washed appearence of the place.
Selction: *** Doom Bar, John Smith’s and Saddleback Bitter were on draught. There may have been more but the utility belt wearers at the bar obstructed my view of the other handpumps.
Price: **** £3 for Saddleback is pretty decent. I must visit the provinces more often.
Service: **** The blonde barmaid was friendly and chatty.