Published: 11:30, 28 June 2019
| Updated: 10:17, 30 August 2019
Taking the opportunity to tick Z off my list of pub names, not to mention looking forward to a pint right on the beach, I headed for the Zetland Arms just outside Deal.
Negotiating the shale almost to the water’s edge, we parked up carefully only to have my hopes dashed by a sign declaring it was closed for a private party.
The views may be great and the recommendations just as impressive, but if it closes without notice on a Saturday night I’m not sure it deserves such favour.
Having made a special journey I backtracked a few hundred yards to the nearby Rising Sun on Cliffe Road in search of a much-needed pint and hearty pub meal.
I received a hearty enough welcome but race night fever had gripped the locals and although menus were spread liberally around I was informed all food was off.
With three barmaids on duty there were plenty of staff serving but they were neither as cheery, nor chatty, as the punters.
Just in time for Race 3, the Old MacDonald Stakes, a £2 stake on Woof Woof secured me winnings of £3.70. Adding £4 to my ill-gotten gains was enough for a pint of Timothy Taylor, a 4.3%, and a coke for my driver.
I might have still had the munchies but at least I’d got my hands on a decent drink – it’s not overpowering or even over fruity but nonetheless delivers subtle, impressive flavours.
Pint in hand I took a good look around. A flashy dartboard and a decent selection of trophies suggest there must be serious dart players in at least once a week. On the subject of games, there’s even a skittle alley in the garden with a concrete track and a challenging looking camber (they’re seeking ladies to play – ring 01304 373983 if you’re up for it). I assume the landlord/landlady favours Spurs and is determined to demonstrate their allegiance with a THFC sign over the bar.
There are plenty of beams, they even run through into the fresh smelling gents with its lengthy metal urinal, and the trendy olive green paint is evident throughout, along with tartan curtains. The ladies, on the other hand, only offer a single cubicle so make sure you lock the outside door!
The flowers in jars on each table might be false but the hanging baskets outside certainly aren’t and offer a blaze of colour.
The video races might have kept the locals inside but there was healthy evidence this is a boozer which really benefits from its outside space – dogs are welcome as long as they’re kept on leads and there are plenty of picnic benches.
However, the front of the pub is busiest and is the clear choice for smokers. For some reason the Rising Sun has decided it needs a waterfall and construction is well under way.
I finally got fed at a chippie in Deal, coincidentally I noticed the Royal Marines Association next door was also holding a race night.
I’m only too well aware cash-strapped pubs face tough challenges but I don’t think Saturday night lockouts or taking food off the menu will prove to be long term solutions.