Visitors to the Somerville Arms be warned; swot up on your grammar or face the wrath of a group of know-alls who sit at the bar debating the big issues of the day.
To give you some idea of what I mean, a heated debate between three beer boffins and a wine connoisseur reached crisis point when one chap abruptly asked: ‘Why are you trying to conjugate a noun?’
Feeling well out of my depth, I bought a beer before taking a seat next to a fluffy cat – they are much more my scene.
The locals here aren’t your usual rabble of plumbers, plasterers, painters and decorators, oh no. They’re the kind of chaps who wear jumpers and tweed jackets with padded elbows, corduroy trousers and moccasins – much more your university lecturers, nuclear physicists, theologians and linguists.
Thankfully the grammar groupies had their conversation curtailed by a wedding party whose arrival changed the atmosphere from library to lively, albeit it for ten minutes before they dashed off to get to the church on time.
My drink of choice was Everards Sunchaser (4%) a blonde beer firmly entrenched in the thirst-quencher category and one of five Everards beers I could have gone for.
I’d heard a lot of good things about the Somerville which had been named Pub of the Year for the second time in a row by CAMRA’s Heart of Warwickshire branch.
It’s popular with a broad spectrum of people including intellectuals, Morris Dancers, students and bikers, and even the odd intellectual Morris-Dancing student biker.
The Somerville is a tidy, well-maintained pub with clean exposed red brickwork.
The dartboard is proudly mounted above an impressive fireplace which is flanked by two benches where spectators can sit and sup in peace when not diving for cover from stray arrows.
Perched precariously on a ledge overlooking the dartboard is a model of the Somerville itself – possibly made out of papier mache – and clearly a labour of love for someone who had too much time on their hands.
At the rear of the Somerville is a small, cosy and inviting room with access to the bar.
I poked my nose in to take a look but didn’t hang around because a young lad was ‘entertaining’ his girlfriend. I guess he had other things on his mind than the whys and wherefores of noun conjugation.
The beer garden is small – there’s not even enough room to swing a fluffy cat – but there are some hanging baskets to admire for those punters lucky enough to get a seat or those looking to escape the raging grammar debate taking place inside.
Suddenly, hanging baskets have never seemed more appealing.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
ADDRESS: THE SOMERVILLE ARMS, 4 Campion Terrace, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 4SX. 01926 426746
ATMOSPHERE: *** Quiet, but with the bar boffins in full flow I felt like I’d stumbled into the final phase a competition to find Britain’s Most Boring Bloke. That said, I’m sure the young ‘uns bring the place to life at weekends.
DECOR: **** Spotlessly tidy, with red brickwork, cream painted walls and wooden flooring – it’s all very nice.
SERVICE: ***** Keep it under your hat, but the barman generously overfilled the good Lady InnSpectre’s glass of Sauvignon Blanc because he was finishing off a bottle.
SELECTION: ***** Seven real ales is pretty damn good, I have to say. Other Everards tipples included Original, Tiger, Beacon and Whakatu, plus two Adnams ales – Bitter and Broadside.
PRICE: *** £3.20 for my Sunchaser is pretty good (price as at time of visit).
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: There is free Wi-Fi available at the Somerville which hosts regular live music nights including blues, bluegrass, acoustic and jazz, the later featuring a band called The Swing Cats.
The InnSpectre reviews…
The Ship and Shovell has an area called The Snug which consists of a table and two chairs at the top of a small staircase. It provides the ideal place for two lovers to gaze into each others’ eyes and have a blazing row in private – a point well worth remembering the next time you and the missus have one of those make-or-break chats.
The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge is surrounded by the beauty, peace and tranquility of the North Yorkshire Moors and this is what lures me back time after time. It’s where I come to escape the rat race and the wretched rodents who compete in it.
A young barman at the King’s Head in Deal came right over to me and played the spoons to an impressive standard before wowing his audience by drinking beer from his shoe. Once the applause died down the lad jumped on a table where he danced with a blonde female colleague.
The barman at the Windsor Castle in Clapham could barely take his eyes off television coverage of the horse racing and pulled my pint with about as much vim and vigour as a donkey being led to the glue factory.