I spent a late summer’s afternoon searching for a decent pub in Eastbourne. It was an afternoon wasted. I’ll never get that time back.
If only I had gone armed with the knowledge that one of the area’s best boozers – the Wheatsheaf – lies just outside the town in a Morris Dancing-loving backwater called Willingdon, I would have donned my bells and buckles and boogied on down there in an instant.
I consulted Google, and one taxi ride later I was there.
The Wheatsheaf looks charming and quaint on the outside and it doesn’t disappoint on the inside, ticking a lot of the boxes you would hope from an attractive village pub – it has a low ceiling, dark wooden beams, character, history and a relaxing ambience.
This freehouse embraces eccentricity and this is evident during the summer months when Morris Dancers make May Day their own and those who love a spot of barrell rolling prepare for their big day in August.
There is a weekly Jam Night on Wednesdays. But those looking to join like-minded souls to discuss the pros and cons of various food preservatives will be disappointed. Instead you can expect to find musicians getting together for a good old sing-song.
It’s the kind of pub where you can sit and read the paper on your own, enjoy a meal with the missus or get smashed while taking in some live music.
I did the latter, naturally, while knocking back a few pints of Legless Rambler (5%), a local ale produced by the Beachy Head Brewery, but not before having a decent meal. I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes.
The table service was very good. There’s something very satisfying about ordering a beer and a bite without having to get up and walk to the bar.
The young waitress was friendly and only too happy to answer my questions. She was also exceptionally apologetic when a dish I hadn’t ordered was delivered to my table.
There’s a nice-sized beer garden out the back for those looking to lap-up some sunshine or have a crafty cigarette.
Dogs seem to love the vibe too. Two of them were racing around the pub looking to get up close and personal with the legs of unsuspecting punters.
If you love real ale and the feel of bygone England then the Wheatsheaf is most definitely for you.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: THE WHEATSHEAF, 2 Church St, Willingdon, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN20 9HP. www.thewheatsheafinnwillingdon.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: **** Lively, welcoming, good-spirited and a little bit quirky.
DECOR: **** Traditional English pub with old pictures, white washed walls and well-worn red carpet.
SERVICE: **** Nice lad, chatty and remembered what I’d ordered before and said those magical words ‘Same again?’.
PRICE: *** £3.60 for a Legless Rambler is quite enough, thanks very much.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The pub hosts a packed schedule of events throughout the year. It’s a real community pub.