There was no time to yell timber…
Sunday the 4th of January was a foggy, dank, miserable day in Sussex and the last day of my break before starting back at work for the new year. My mood was very much mimicking the weather and as the morning turned to early afternoon so the decision was made to go ‘n get a pint. A Sunday drive (Mike was designated driver) took us out of Horsham, toward Rusper and eventually across the border to (what felt like the back-end of) neighbouring Surrey, passing small villages, farms and some picturesque views until The Surrey Oaks of Newdigate was upon us; a pub that until that point we’d never visited.
The surrounding oaks from which the pub takes its name are said to have been used for ship building, parts of the The Surrey Oaks are believed to date back to the 16th Century and as such this place almost creaks under the weight of its own rural, old-school & slightly wonky charm; in the grey January gloom it becomes a beacon of promising warmth.
Stepping in, carefully avoiding several thwacks to my head from the low hung oak beams, I make a beeline for the bar that sits centrally within the building and start to scan the beers on offer- Harveys Old, Surrey Hills Ranmore & Shere Drop, Titanic Plum Porter, Dark Star Hylder Blonde and Marble Lagonda on cask alongside Punk IPA, Curious Brew & Hoegarden on keg with Brewdog Zeitgeist & Pumpking bottles sitting in the fridge at the back of the bar alongside some Goose Island….
A little flutter of excitement goes through me.
It’s not often a drive out of town results in finding a pub with such a fantastic and eclectic beer selection. Indeed, a lot of the pubs in Horsham town centre could learn a lot from beer on offer here.
We settle at a table just adjacent to the bar, I take a sip of my Marble Lagonda (it tastes perfect) and I take in my surroundings; the series of small rooms and nooks & crannies that make up the interior, the Inglenook fireplace, the old piano, the mix of flagstone, carpet and wood flooring, wood panelling lining the walls, mismatched tables and chairs, the beer mats stuck to some of the dark beams and the pewter tankards & copper pieces hanging from the others, the lamp made from an old hand-pull and the glassware in the corner cabinet; it feels very homely.
There’s a real warmth to this pub and it’s not just from the Inglenook. The bar staff and the pub regulars are all friendly folk (there’s none of that ‘grab your torches and pitch forks’ vibe going on that I’ve experienced from other ‘locals’ pubs), the menu is modern and above average quality without being pretentious (you’ll find stone baked pizzas, handmade burgers, ‘shoot of the day’ and the most amazing handmade Scotch eggs you’ll ever eat. All meat and other ingredients are locally sourced where possible) and the décor is traditional but not stuffy. There’s a sense of real care to this place and with it an ease that welcomes you.
No, there was no time to yell Timber, it was too quick, almost instant, as I was felled by the charms of The Surrey Oaks.