“This table is so sticky it’s taking my skin off” – now, I’m not saying Mrs SD exaggerates, but this seemed unlikely.
It wasn’t until I prised my own forearms of the same table and saw the outer layer of epidermis left imprinted into the surface I realised she was spot on.
At this point the barmaid wasn’t serving anyone and had her face glued to her phone screen, there was no danger of any dirty dishes or glasses being collected and certainly no sign of her picking up a damp cloth.
However, despite this unwanted adhesion, you might be surprised to hear I was quite stuck on the Flying Horse in Boughton Aluph, near Ashford.
It’s a proper village pub, which doesn’t take itself too seriously, and isn’t too worried about every little detail.
An impressive 15th century coaching inn, with spectacular arched windows, it faces the cricket square on the village green and is packed with impressive beams and inglenook fireplaces.
Our barmaid greeted us politely, without being overly cheery, and we were served straight after a guy who walked up to the bar just a moment after us.
Whether this was because he was a local or because he was dressed in work boots and what appeared to be boxer shorts I’m not sure. It being Thursday, his Fosters for Friday T shirt had peaked a little early.
I selected an IPA from Somerset's Butcombe Brewery, an Adam Henson’s Rare Breed at 3.8%. It’s reasonably well balanced, light enough and a touch fruity, but ultimately a pretty bland beer. Mrs SD went for her usual (she only knows one size) Sauvignon Blanc.
We headed out back to the garden, which is absolutely massive, with a decent sized outdoor bar and 18 large picnic tables arranged on the grass with oodles of space between each one.
There is a dog bar and, next to it, a special box for dog doos – including a notice inviting you to ‘feel free to help yourself’.
And, the humour doesn’t end there, on the menu the steak and ale pie describes itself as a ‘proper pie, not the trendy, puff pastry lid on stew business’.
If you choose ham and eggs you’re told ‘the chickens are lovingly reared and pampered nearby’ and when it comes to the peas ‘they’re potentially lovingly reared nearby, but it’s a pea so who knows’.
I particularly liked the sign on the toilet cubicle ‘No handle on door, very stiff to open!!!!!! We are trying to get this fixed asap’ – the crossed out graffiti may also have been funny but I couldn’t read it.
Okay, one tap had a mind of its own and wasn’t connected and even a world record attempt for the number of blue toilet blocks in one urinal wasn’t going to mask all the smell but this is a proper pub with a proper gents. The ladies, if you check the pictures, was far more plush but even here the toilet flush was busted.
Some gardening had been going on and there was even a trendy wilding area, unless they’ve just cut down on weeding?
Having explored outside we came indoors for a closer look at this down-to-earth village boozer.
There are some boxes of games on the piano but no darts, pool or jukebox although there was a mixture of 70s and 80s tunes being played at a decent level in the background.
The barmaid was no longer on her phone as she was carrying out meals but each time she returned inside her barman colleague entertained her with his impressions of a variety of regional accents.
Other entertainment is available though and the pub regularly hosts live music.
Also, like many other pubs, the Flying Horse plans a Beer Fest for the coming bank holiday, starting at noon on Saturday, August 27. As this is also a hotel with four en-suite bedrooms you might even choose to book a B&B for £95.
We’d taken a seat and experienced the unfortunate sticky table when we saw the bowl of conkers in the window, presumably to discourage spiders, but it definitely doesn’t work for dead flies.
As the barmaid set off with more meals I noticed a generously filled bowl of chips for £3 did look particularly appetising.
I accept it might be considered there are some minor imperfections here but I think they actually make this pub what it is and it would be a shame to have it any other way. Sure, it’s a little rough round the edges but it’s the better for it and I’m convinced locals either don’t care or don’t notice.
Harking back to the days when the village pub catered for everyone, local drinkers, music lovers, diners, visitors on a day trip, kids, dogs and even your granny – everyone is welcome to enjoy the Flying Horse.
Finally, don’t be confused by the address as both Boughton Aluph and Boughton Lees seem not only acceptable, but almost inter-changeable.
Flying Horse, Wye Road, Boughton Lees, Ashford TN25 4HH
Decor: A little shabby in a few areas but the pub is packed full of character and, with its beams and inglenook fireplaces, oozes history. I especially loved the windows, but the tables did need a wipe. ***
Drink: The Adam Henson’s Rare Breed was a disappointing IPA and lacked any real flavour. The wine too, was declared very much an also ran by Mrs SD’s experienced taste buds. **
Price: The chips looked fantastic for £3 and the person who ordered them raved about them. The bitter was £4.50 and the large wine £6. ***
Staff: When called into action both the barmaid and her impressionist colleague did a reasonable job, but there are times they need to show a little more initiative. **
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