Within five minutes of setting foot on the Isle of Wight I was sitting in a pub, swigging a beer and enjoying the relaxed pace of island life.
The journey from Portsmouth to Ryde took ten minutes by Hovercraft, a mode of transport once considered the future of sea travel but, aside from this little service, quickly consigned to the backwaters of Wikipedia.
If you’ve got a ticket to Ryde then the Lud should be your first port of call. The pub is handily positioned close to ferry, hovercraft and bus terminals and is slap-bang on the seafront.
It may look like a modest mock Tudor boozer on the outside, but on the inside it’s slightly disappointing. It has a touch of an old working man’s club about it.
That said, there’s plenty on offer for the casual punter.
If you fancy some amusement then you can play games such as Monopoly, Connect 4, dominoes and even Twister. However, if you choose the latter then you’ll need some washing-up liquid and some plucky pals.
There’s even a fine selection of books available too, although it’s going to take a certain kind of pubgoer to thumb through the weighty tome that is Active Server Pages 3.0.
For those looking for a more free-flowing read there’s the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
Reading can be thirsty work, so it’s just as well the Lud serves some decent ales.
I opted for a local brew, Yates’s Sunfire – a gloriously golden ale with a lingering aftertaste, perfect for summer drinking.
I arrived early one afternoon for a pint and then went for a pub crawl around town. I returned eight hours later a little bit worse for wear.
My quiet afternoon pint with a smattering of locals and holidaymakers was replaced by a loud and proud live music night in which revellers danced the night away. It’s certainly a pub with a split personality.
It most definitely doffs its cap to the bygone days of Mods and Rockers and is a pub synonymous with a good old seaside scooter rally.
On the Sunday I was in town it was Lambretta Day where enthusiasts proudly ride around Ryde showing off their vehicles as well as popping to the Lud for a pint on their way back to the mainland.
Sitting on the patio area out the front can be quite pleasant, if you can stand the ever-present beeping of the traffic lights, the din of passing traffic and the screaming of seagulls.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY
ATMOSPHERE: **** A Jekyll and Hyde pub. Quiet during the day with a wicked side after dark. Music at right level during the day and suitably loud later on.
DECOR: *** Seats, carpets and padded benches were all well worn. Yellow painted walls are complimented by red, white, blue bunting above bar. It keeps the Mods happy.
SELECTION: *** Nothing particularly earth-shattering. A small selection of perfectly drinkable and well kept local ales including Dark Side of the Wight and HSB.
PRICE: *** Reasonable. £3.60 for a pint of Sunfire.
SERVICE: **** Enthusiastic, cheerful, helpful and knowledgeable. Bang. Take that.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The Lud offers a discount on real ales to CAMRA card holders.
The InnSpectre reviews…
The barmaid at the Railway in Cheam stared right through me as I ordered a pint, then she looked away when handing over my change with an expression of total and utter disgust.She looked hot, but I felt hideous. It was as if Kim Kardashian was pulling pints for the Elephant Man.
I risked life and limb by going for a wee at the Nell Gwynne, Covent Garden. The descent down the stairs to the toilets is akin to walking down a lift shaft. Bow your head and hold on tight to the handrails as you prepare for a journey to the centre of the pub.
I edged towards the bar at the Zetland Arms in South Kensington, bumping my cheap old man-bag into posh people who I suspect have names such as Tarquin, Octavia, Marmaduke and Cressida, all of whom had the obligatory quiff and smug smile you’d expect from polo-loving members of the aristocracy.