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Secret Drinker at the Rose Inn, Kennington, Ashford

Feckin eejit, not the first words to greet me, but by far the most popular vocab in this neck of the woods on a Wednesday evening.

Mary behind the bar is a tour de force and as she only works one shift a week I’m delighted that was the slot I chose to visit the Rose Inn at Kennington, near Ashford.

The pub’s TV screens were showing Preston North End playing Stoke City, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising Mary held centre stage and was the most exciting thing about the pub.

The Rose dates back 150 years to the days when drovers would call in
The Rose dates back 150 years to the days when drovers would call in

To be honest, even if they’d been showing the fourth day of the Third Ashes Test at Headingley, she’d still have held top billing – oh yes, there’s definitely something about Mary.

This is a Shepherd Neame boozer, not that far from Junction 9 on the M20, so I reverted to type and went for a pint of Hurlimann. Mrs SD also played a straight bat and chose her usual a large (is there another size!) sauvignon blanc. Mary then did something I haven’t seen in a bar for many years when she delivered a ‘luck penny’ – what a great Irish tradition.

As we took a seat Mary threatened to throw out the entire row of locals sat at the bar if any one of the eejits, including hubbie Brendan, dared mention Brexit again – needless to say they didn’t.

The bar was quiet mid-week with most punters choosing the lounge instead
The bar was quiet mid-week with most punters choosing the lounge instead

The bar wasn’t crazy busy but there was a still a good mix of English, Irish and Scots – we just needed a Welshman to complete the standard joke.

The Rose is a perfectly decent pub – it’s got a new food menu and offers 20% off for anyone aged over 60, holds a poker night on a Tuesday, has five screens dotted about to show sport and there’s plenty of space in the car park.

But, so do stacks of other pubs – the difference is, nowhere else has Mary.

Buying a second round I offered my new bestie barmaid a drink and, once again she didn’t hold back.

There's also a pool table plus plenty of TV screens showing live sport
There's also a pool table plus plenty of TV screens showing live sport

With a large wine in one hand she joined us at our table and, with her other hand on my knee for the next 20 minutes, she brought us up to speed with everything we needed to know about her four children, charity fundraising, her views on vegans, her other half, journalists and golf.

There were probably another dozen folk in the pub, but like an experienced conductor with a well-trained orchestra, once Mary had served them and checked they were happy they just got on with their business.

Three young lads dressed in the football kit of Kennington FC sat quietly in a row behind their pints of lemonade and plates of home-made curry before heading next door for a game of pool. Kennington must play an attacking formation as two of them both wore No.9s on their shirts.

The pub has regular pub quizzes, karaoke and live music
The pub has regular pub quizzes, karaoke and live music
There are plenty of old photos across the walls and trophies in one corner
There are plenty of old photos across the walls and trophies in one corner

The place has obviously had a spruce up in the last few years, wooden floors in the bar on the left, brown tartan carpet in the lounge on the right, the toilets were fresh and clean and the curry and pizza looked good and smelled good.

As a place to watch sport it’s convenient and comfortable enough and the trophies in one corner were for football, pool and poker so the locals clearly don’t mind playing a little themselves.

The fact is, the pub’s absolutely fine, but add in Mary's Irish charm and it’s all about one person.

For the record PNE won 3-1, Brendan booked an anniversary dinner to celebrate 21 years of wedded bliss, the meal deal offers two steaks and a bottle of wine for £30 and, most importantly, Mary will be back behind the bar next Wednesday.

Don't miss this weekend's CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival

Read more Secret Drinker reviews here

Kent boozer named Pub of the Year

Food is served from noon to 3pm, 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Saturday; Noon to 4pm, Sunday
Food is served from noon to 3pm, 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Saturday; Noon to 4pm, Sunday

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The Rose Inn on Faversham Road is just off Junction 9 of the M20
The Rose Inn on Faversham Road is just off Junction 9 of the M20

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