I was feeling somewhat fragile by the time I stumbled through the doors of the White Hart in Canterbury.
I had just shaken off a lingering hangover from the previous day’s trip to Kent Beer Festival and I looked and smelt like I’d spent the night in a skip.
On the plus side, I felt sufficiently well enough for one last jar of ale before boarding the train back to London.
I needed a nice quiet environment in which to sit, sup and stare vacantly into the middle distance without the intrusion of the usual suspects – noisy traffic, loud music, shouting yobs, police sirens, or screaming kids… especially not screaming kids.
I felt safe from the sirens at the White Hart Inn, Canterbury, a small pub down a quiet back road with a cute, tidy and inviting facade which beckoned me inside. But then it doesn’t take much. Generally speaking, as long as a pub serves beer I’ll be tempted through its doors.
I bought a pint of Shepherd Neame’s Whitstable Bay (4.1%) then slowly wandered out the back door and into the garden which was bathed in beautiful summer sunshine.
The White Hart’s claim to fame is that it has the largest beer garden in Canterbury.
The problem with that is it tends to attract the largest families in Canterbury, as I was about to find out.
I enjoyed the peace for a grand total of two minutes when a cohort of kids keen to cavort and cartwheel their way around the garden made their prescence known.
I took a swig of ale, looked to the heavens, uttered an expletive and then, rather forlornly, headed back inside.
With so many pubs going by the wayside, perhaps I shouldn’t be such an old curmudgeon. After all, it’s good to see such a variety of people making the most of their local.
But, I am who I am, and I huffed and puffed as I made my way to a seat in the corner. The change of setting allowed me to cast my eye over the place.
I liked the low ceiling, the newspapers and magazines laid out on a table, a selection of books and games, high-backed wooden benches and the big wooden tables – ideal for Canterbury’s largest families or groups of friends. This is a pub which wants you stick around.
Alas, I had to leave. A pint was all I could manage before getting my train back to chav-choked London. Screaming kids would soon be the least of my problems.
THE INNSPECTRE’S SUMMARY…
ADDRESS: Worthgate Place, Castle Row, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2QX. 01227 765091 www.whitehartcanterbury.co.uk
ATMOSPHERE: *** I imagine this is a pretty peaceful pub on occasions. Shame I didn’t experience that for myself. However, I did catch it during the middle of the lunchtime buzz. A busy pub is a healthy pub and I’m all for that.
SERVICE: ***** The barmaid was bright and bubbly and, better still, the barman was extremely polite, referring to me as ‘sir’. I kind of like the sound of that, Sir InnSpectre. It’s got a nice ring to it.
PRICE: *** £3.60 for my Whitstable Bay is as much as I’d like to pay.
DECOR: **** The signs on the loos read as follows: ‘Sitters’ and ‘Standers’. I find that kind of thing a bit pretentious and unnecessary. However, it’s a smart pub which has obviously been given a bit of a makeover in recent times. It’s all very gastro-pubby. The framed caricature of Kent cricket legend Richard Ellison brought back memories of the time I told to field at silly mid-off by the captain of the Dog and Duck.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS: The White Hart is close to Canterbury East station making it ideal for either that first pint upon arrival or, as in my case, the last pint prior to departure.