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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

#192 New Inn, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire : 1986 to 2015

One of the things that I've noticed about pubs in this country is that, nine times out of ten, those that have a prime location on the inland waterways have appalling customer service and generally don't care because they don't have to. I'd like to say that the New Inn is an exception that proves the rule...but I can't!

The first time I visited the New Inn was on my very first canal trip back in 1980. In those days I wasn't taking pictures of the pubs we visited, but our logs record that we visited twice on that trip - Monday 16th April and Tuesday 24th April. They were both evening stops and I recall having a fantastic time playing skittles each time! We also stopped there on Friday 27th August 1982 and Thursday 30th August 1984 (Lunch) before the first time I took a picture on Monday 21st July 1986.
This was a lunchtime visit on a trip that would take us to Leicester and Nottingham.

In the early years Emma Jane was moored at Woodford on the River Nene, then Earlswood/Lapworth on the Stratford Canal which explains the frequent visits. Then Emma Jane was moved to Adlington on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and then down south to Cowley Peachey/Winkwell on the Grand Union Canal which is where we pick up the story again!

For a few years our 'summer' holiday consisted of heading north on the Grand Union for a week, see how far we got then turn round for the journey back. So, our next visit to the New Inn was at lunchtime on Friday 25th September 1992.
We were also there at lunchtime the very next day! This had been an eventful trip with a fire in the 'engine room' and a 24 hour delay because the canal was flooded near Grafton Regis! In the intervening six years the pub had acquired a hanging sign and the main sign had been replaced.

We were back the next year again...twice!
First on Thursday 23rd September 1993 in the evening.
Then again on the way back at lunchtime on Sunday 26th September 1993.

We were back on Sunday 4th September 1994 on our journey back for a lunch stop.
We'd missed out on the way up because of bad timing on the locks which closed at 4pm.

In 1995 we moved Emma Jane back to Lapworth and so our visit to the New Inn should have been the last for a few years. This visit was the first example of the intransigence of the people who ran the pub. It had been a slow morning coming up through the Buckby Locks and I'd gone ahead to see whether we'd be able to get something to eat if we were running a bit late. I was assured that we could get food.
We moored up at 14:05 on Thursday 31st August 1995 and dashed into the pub only to be told that food had stopped at 2pm! This was from the same woman who'd assured me it would be OK!

We returned on the evening of Monday 25th August 1997 on our way to Leicester and Nottingham again!
No problems this time and the hanging sign had returned.

In 2001, we took a trip down the Grand Union to cover some of the ground we'd become used to in the early 1990's. So, we had two (both lunchtime) stops at the New Inn. First on Monday 27th August 2001.
...and then again on Wednesday 5th September 2001.
Although the outside of the pub has seemingly not changed over the years, inside it had slowly transformed from a proper basic country pub into a more food based establishment. It was starting to look as though the skittle table would disappear, but, fortunately, that hasn't transpired.

Our next visit to the New Inn was on a springtime trip taking Emma Jane to Nuneaton for roof repairs.
 This was at lunchtime on Monday 30th May 2005. The main wall sign had finally changed after at least 15 years!

In 2009 anothr trip to Nottingham and Leicester (and the Erewash Canal) saw us stopping at the New Inn at lunchtime on Thursday 10th September 2009.
Our most recent stop was on the evening of Sunday 30th August 2015.
Again we were running a bit late as we'd had a 50 minute delay at Watford Locks. So, I'd phoned ahead to establish that the food stopped at 8pm. We moored up at 19:50 and got into the pub at 2 minutes past eight. The manager flatly said that the kitchen was closed and there was no food. A completely different manager, but he was channelling the same 'New Inn' attitude from twenty years previously.

Our evening was saved by the young woman I'd spoken to on the phone. She overheard the manager, had a word with the chef and offered us a choice of salad or sandwiches (no hot food) which was perfect!

The exterior signage had changed again, subtly whereas inside, little had changed over the past few years.

Just to demonstrate the "New Inn Attitude" I was very amused/disturbed by the replies of Michelle R to negative reviews on Tripadvisor which I discovered in my researches!

Friday, 12 August 2016

#191 The Vine, Rugeley, Staffordshire : 1999 to 2015

Over the years, we've found Rugeley to be a bit of a desert for memorable pubs and so we've tended not to stop there as often as you'd expect. However, with the new boat being moored on the Trent & Mersey Canal just an hour's cruise away, this may change.

We discovered The Vine somewhat by accident at lunchtime on Tuesday 31st August 1999.
I have little recollection of what it was like inside, but I get the impression that it was more pleasant than some Rugeley pubs.

We've been back to Rugeley on several occasions since 1999, but it was only on a recent visit that we rediscovered The Vine.
This was on the evening of Monday 6th April 2015. It was Easter Monday and it had been quite a pleasant day. We'd been to a couple of the pubs in Rugeley and were looking for somewhere slightly different. At the time, I didn't realise that we'd been to The Vine previously.  As would be expected, the exterior is somewhat changed over the 16 years between visits!

It is now a 'community' pub and inside it is furnished in a fairly basic, non-descript style - probably because they didn't have thousands of pounds to lavish on it!

You can find out more about it in the Oficial Pub Guide including a brief history.