Monday(except for Bank Holidays) is our day off.Today The Chap had an appointment to meet for a much needed bath and trim at his favourite pooch parlour.
Once collected and smelling decidedly fresher and more delicious than he had done, we headed out in search of an inspiring countryside walk and hopefully some lunch afterwards.
By noon we found ourselves south of Hexham in Slaley forest enjoying breathtaking views and bracing weather.The chap was in his element though the thirty quid spent on the pampering was a complete waste of time as his first action was to cock his leg in a particularly awkward spot and immediately pee all over his front leg...
Add to the mix a procession of muddy pools and dusty rabbit holes which were enthusiastically investigated and things were soon back square one.
The chap and me,note the attire(Barbour and Hunters),as you can see we are enjoying classic English summertime weather.The temperature struggled to reach 7C and we actually experienced a hail storm..is it really May?
Smile for the camera!
Close to Slaley forest is Slaley Hall Hotel,a typical"luxury" country house hotel and golf resort,we could have chosen to lunch there but fancied something more relaxed.A short car journey through Whitley Chapel,a tiny hamlet in the heart of rural Hexhamshire,a couple of miles further heading towards Hexham and we found ourselves at The Dipton Mill Inn.
The Dipton Mill Inn is a tpical chocolate box, ivy covered pub the likes of which you dont find very often these days.Inside two fires roar away at either end of the small room which features old photographs and horse brasses.A collection of tiny tables and red velvet upholstered chairs which have seen better days, add to the cosy ambience.Apparantly an episode of the 1960s comedy series The Likely Lads was filmed here.I dont think the pub has changed much since then,Bob and Terry wouldnt have looked out of place at the bar.The gastropub revolution has passed by the Dipton mill Inn without a hint of its soullessness(is that a word?) taking seed here(thank god), no sign of any background music either to disturb the general banter, much from the landlord himself.
The owners have been dispensing hospitality here for 18 years in their own distinctive style.The landlord brews his own beer with most named after local beauty spots,with his wife providing home cooked meals and sandwiches from a kitchen glimpsed behind the bar.She also serves the food.You can also get a decent glass of wine here (my bench mark of a good pub).
A blackboard displays the meals on offer.The cooked meals looked simple but appetising,the type of food your Mum(if shes any kind of Mum) would cook.
Chef chose a simple ham and cheese sandwich,the ham was home baked and sliced generously,and came with a bit of salad and some crisps(a snip at £2.50).
I went for a ploughmans(£6.20):- "one, two or three cheeses the choice is yours" said the menu, I was presented with a list of about 12 ( mainly local cheeses) and asked to select my choices.I went for a Cotherstone from just over the border in Barnard Castle,Durham and an Elsdon Goats cheese from Northumberland.Two huge wedges of cheese(no wonder I sport womanly curves) together with salad,pickles, crusty brown bread and some good old Branston Pickle.
We retired to enjoy our food in the pretty sunken garden which features a mill race and several picnic sets.
The Chap joined us.
Worcester Sauce and sundried tomato flavour arent my crisp of choice...
We were the only ones brave enough to sit outside.
The food was simple but the integrity of the ingredients shone through.What a refreshing change to enjoy fresh,quality ingredients,simply served without adornment in such a lovely setting.Here is a place that has gone back to basics and cares about what they put on the plate rather than creating an elaborate presentation of mediocre produce displayed on overpriced crockery.
As chef succinctly put it "Thats exactly what I want to eat at lunchtime!"
Steak sarnies sold today-0 (Its Monday)