If ever there was a line-up in God’s waiting room this has to be it – they were even sharing a story about someone dying but ‘getting the day wrong’, why they got it wrong wasn’t very clear.
The last time I tried the Rose Inn in Herne Bay for a pint it was 8pm on a Saturday and although everyone else had a full glass in their hand I was told the pub was closed and was turned away.
This Saturday I did at least manage to get served, but then wondered if I didn’t perhaps dodge a bullet on my first visit.
This corner bar on Mortimer Street has obviously changed hands fairly recently and does now at least operate hours drinkers can rely upon - previously there was no rhyme or reason to when the doors opened.
Talk of death led to a slightly brighter discussion, about cancelled trains, before the mood descended again as a straw poll identified which punters will face Christmas alone at home.
I’d like to be able to say this isn’t the most depressing pub ever – I really would like to be able to say this!
On the plus side, I’m sure it was lighter than my last visit, and me simply walking in brought the average age down considerably - we also learned Helen the barmaid would celebrate her birthday soon.
Also, the toilets have, like the rest of the place, had a makeover, though I must admit I am more than a little concerned what has been going on here to justify the placing of a sign which reads ‘Urinals are for wee wees ONLY’?
A more positive sign revealed Mel Wallace will be performing live this Saturday and I hope, for his sake, the pub is a good deal livelier than it was last Saturday.
On the subject of music, there was a soundtrack playing in the background, though the tunes only stretched back to the 80s, despite the waiting room line-up being much more suited to a 60s soundtrack.
Someone suggested Helen should get the bumps but this idea was abandoned when another regular pointed out how light she was and even a little effort would have her hitting the ceiling. I assume the birthday girl also feels the cold as she got fully coated and scarved every time she went for a smoke.
So, what else is there to tell you about this old-fashioned boozer in the Bay?
There’s a fruit machine blinking away in the back room, where the outdoor umbrellas are also stored, and, despite being empty, this part of the pub still felt warmer and livelier than the rest of the place, the hand-drier wasn’t functioning and, if you’re looking forward to the next quiz, it’s planned for March ’24.
Oh yes, and the pictures on the walls are for sale.
Then, just as hope was almost lost, we were joined by something livelier, as Narla the Husky, accompanied by her owners, made an entrance. These regulars broke with tradition by taking a seat at the bar, rather than the benches lining the walls, and Narla pricked her ears keenly for the rustle of a crisp packet.
From the selection of drinks available I’d taken a step back in time and chose a pint of Hurlimann, while Mrs SD also went a slightly different route and switched up her colours to go for large Malbec. Mrs SD was peckish and much to her, not to mention Narla’s, delight, she was duly served two packets of Pipers crisps, although I must say I struggle to share her enthusiasm for the brand.
There must surely be livelier times in the Rose Inn but this was, after all, a Saturday night and the line-up on the bench was pretty much motionless and uninterested.
To be fair, when the odd person did take their leave everyone else woke up long enough to say goodbye and every regular headed into the night with good wishes ringing in their ears.
David, who’d been sitting at the corner of the bar and chatting to who I presume is the manageress, also headed for home and the remaining folk then spent much of their time talking to Narla.
The final fellow in through the door to take a bench seat was another old boy, Nige, who also seemed to know everyone and, with the conversation returning to trains and Christmas, we decided this was the optimum time for us to slip off our perches, bid the remainers a good evening, and head for home ourselves.
ROSE INN, MORTIMER STREET, HERNE BAY CT6 5ER
Decor: Since the makeover the pub is a lot brighter and lighter and the benches, favoured by the regulars, are now in a good condition. Much of the place is traditional, if not a tad boring but there are a few decent old photos on the walls. ***
Drink: It’s basically a Shepherd Neame selection and I chose to revisit my youth with a pint of 4.8% Hurlimann, while Mrs SD opted for a red and selected a large Malbec. There wasn’t anything too exciting available. **
Price: A pint of Hurlimann was £5, a large wine £7.40 and two packets of crisps £2.20. ***
Staff: Saturday’s birthday girl Helen got on with the job quietly, speaking mainly as she either left for a fag break or returned to the bar. **
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