Seldom has a pub been better named or described, the Good Intent in West Farleigh, near Maidstone , is a no-nonsense boozer doing its best to provide the local community with a proper hub.
It doesn’t have the pretension demonstrated by other local pubs which should remain nameless (like the Tickled Trout and refurbed Walnut Tree) instead it’s refreshingly down-to-earth and honest.
It was late and dark when we arrived but through the gloom at the bottom of the large car park I could still make out the boat the landlord reckoned he was doing up when I last visited six years ago – good intentions hey.
There were three massive fellas at a table outside when we arrived but they left their pints half full and clambered into a miniature car as one guy had become ‘tired and emotional’ and the other two had run out of fags.
Myself and the apprentice adopted their slightly rickety picnic table, complete with over-flowing ashtray, and I, after sanitizing, followed the strict one-way system to purchase a couple of pints - Guinness for my trainee and Larkins, the only bitter on tap, for me.
The woman at the bar, who I later discovered was the landlady, said, without any hint of irony, ‘Larkins is the best beer in the world’, not least because she helps to pick the hops that make it.
It’s not often I’m flush but I’m pleased to report the big guy behind the bar, sporting a black bandanna, didn’t bat an eyelid at a £50 note, which makes a pleasant change from the usual interrogation. They are obviously asking folk to sign in, although they’ve had a steady flow of Mickey Mouses and Donald Ducks through the door in recent weeks and, to top it all, Goldie Hawn popped in yesterday.
By the time we’d finished our first pint the landlady had been out for two fags, further filling the ashtray on our table and delivering a good deal of insight into the Good Intent (GI).
Having been here nearly 10 years, Covid and the £10k grant it delivered have finally given her the chance to get it done up inside and out. She’s part tied to Admiral Taverns but still has to pay £900 a week in rent, so there’s no suggestion this is an easy living.
The GI supports three local footie teams, two cricket sides and runs three darts teams – the second of which, according to the landlady, is complete pants but still managed to win the league.
You can sort of see where the grant money went around the pub but it’s also fair to say it’s retained a very ‘lived in’ look.
When the only other remaining customer, wearing a natty straw hat, bid us farewell and climbed into a battered silver van we were left to our own devices among the manicured bushes, other dead plants and the bins. The landlady had by now finished her fifth fag and had also departed.
The apprentice and I were just debating the finer points of a true rustic village boozer when a loud, unidentified noise from an open window above the pub took him by surprise: “Did you hear that?” he exclaimed in a loud whisper.
I wasn’t sure, but the second trumpet blast left us both in no doubt, someone retiring earlier than us, had decided it was better out than in.
For some time we listened in fascination as the sounds built in volume and the apprentice even ordered a nightcap of Jager and coke to sip during the entertainment.
Under the makeshift roof on the outside shack area, labelled Dell’s Dog House, there’s a defibrillator which I presume is for the use of the whole village and not just the pub’s regulars – another sign of its enduring bond with the community.
The pub is right on the village green and there are two large circular wooden benches which suggest that in busier times the fun and frolics spill right out across this area.
Sadly, such times are a distant memory at the moment and a message on the back of one blackboard tells the up-to-date story “Closing early on September 13 at 4pm due to staff shortage”.
Let’s just hope it’s not too long before good intentions can run riot again and the Good Intent is once again the hub of the action.
The Good Intent - The Green, West Farleigh, Maidstone ME15 0NN
Decor: The grant’s gone on a full makeover and they even selected that trendy shade of grey paint, but no amount of decorating would disguise the ‘take us as you find us’ feel. ***
Drink: Only one beer, and whilst it’s not the world’s best, the 3.4% session Larkins was pretty good, the Guinness was also well kept. The barman wasn’t expecting a request for Jagermeister and coke. ***
Price: The bitter is £3.90 a pint and a Guinness £4.40. You might not choose to drink it, but just £3 for a Jager and coke has to be good value. ****
Atmosphere: It was a quiet evening (generally!) but there’s something to like about the convivial, laid back welcome you receive. ***
Staff: The landlady and her barman were both larger than life, chirpy and more than happy to share their thoughts on a whole range of subjects. ****