A Pub Pilgrimage

by Gerry Lynch last modified 06 Apr, 2017 04:36 PM

Wiltshire clergy keep Lent as a feast and help local businesses into the bargain

On 1 April the clergy of the Chalke Valley Team showed they were no fools by spending the day visiting every pub in the valley. 

No-one is owning up to being the instigator of the idea, and this pilgrimage with a difference was about as far from Lenten penitential abstinence as possible, but undeterred and with a designated driver, Jenny Taylor, Rick Williams and Catherine Blundell, nobly accompanied by Licensed Lay Minister David Blundell, met at the Fox and Goose at Coombe Bissett for a cracking cup of coffee. 

Parishioners had been invited to meet with their priests in their local for a drink and conversation, and they gladly took up the offer. Religion, sport and politics were barred as topics of conversation, and the talk was of corsets in Coombe Bissett, Ocean Island in Nunton, dog walking in Bishopstone and accountants’ socks in Ebbesbourne Wake! 

Then there was the food and drink.  After Coombe Bissett, it was drinks in the Yew Tree in Odstock where the pilgrims salivated over the menu they could have chosen from, but instead moved on to the Radnor Arms in Nunton for an epic lunch.  

Elastic waist bands beginning to stretch, the party headed for the White Hart in Bishopstone where they found pudding paradise.  Turkish Delight ice cream (who knew) and the Team Rector splurged with a Banoffee Sundae.  By the time they reached the Queen’s Head in Broadchalke, they were beginning to flag, and so Emma and Jack had to revive them with barrels of tea. 

Arrival at Ebbesbourne Wake on a warm, sunny early evening meant spending a few minutes in the Horseshoes’ glorious garden looking at the beautiful Chalke Valley in all its spring loveliness.  Then, as soon as the pub doors opened, they found cider heaven and cheerful company before pointing the car towards Berwick St John. 

The Talbot rejoiced in another friendly atmosphere and a dinner menu the pilgrims, still recovering from pudding, probably didn’t do justice to.  However, super pub food and a conversation about ‘what not to give up for Lent’, carried them to the end of their pub pilgrimage. 

“Would we do it again?  Absolutely!”, says Team Rector the Revd Catherine Blundell, “We had fun, in each of the seven pubs the predominant sounds were shouts of laughter, and if we set off round the valley again next year, come and join us.  

“Until then, remember your local pubs, support them by having a drink or a meal. 

“I know we have to be sensible around alcohol but they are great places to meet with friends and you might even find your local clergy cluttering up a corner.”

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