Thursday, 4 August 2011

Can you judge a pub by its car park?

Pubs Then and Now shows pictures of the Boot at Lapworth in Warwickshire with the contents of the car park becoming steadily more upmarket over the years. So this got me thinking about how you can often tell what to expect inside a pub from what is parked outside. This can be especially useful in rural areas where it’s not always that obvious from the exterior whether you’ve chanced upon a genuine unspoilt pub or a stripped pine dining emporium.

So here are a few rough and ready guidelines that could come in handy (not to be taken too seriously):
  • Land Rover Defenders, Lada Nivas, old Subaru Legacy estates, rusty Fiesta vans, anything over six years old covered in mud: Much talk of crop yields, livestock prices and field sports. Wet, smelly dogs. May not be too welcoming to townies.

  • Extensively modified Saxos, C2s, MG ZRs and Corsas: Expect to hear some bangin’ chewns. Bacardi breezers and Blue WKDs very popular, but cask beer unlikely to be available.

  • Mainstream Fords and Vauxhalls over four years old, aftermarket alloys, things dangling from the rear view mirror: Here for the game, mate. Another four Carlings, love! Anyone seen my copy of the Sun?

  • French cars of a few years old, very likely diesels, not very clean, junk in the footwells, National Trust and RSPB stickers: A good selection of ales, and of beards and chunky knitwear.

  • Rover 400s/45s, Honda Jazzes, Skoda Fabias, Hyundais: Pensioners’ special – full roast dinner for £5.99. None of that foreign muck here. Much indecision as to where to sit.

  • VW Sharans, Vauxhall Merivas, Renault ScĂ©nics: Family dining. Kids eat free! Take your earplugs.

  • Newish Audis, Volvos, “crossover” 4x4s: Oh, what a lovely dining pub. They do a simply divine braised lamb shank with tarragon gravy.

  • Range Rovers, Porsches, high-end Mercedes: Footballers’ Wives territory. If you’re lucky, you might get a pint of Peroni for a fiver, but can you afford those cocktails?
Another point is that, in my experience, a full car park by no means always implies no seating room inside. The occupants either park up and go walking, or mysteriously vanish into thin air, so it’s always worth poking your nose round the door even if it doesn’t look too promising.


  1. Oh dear. I appear to have a pensioner's car.

  2. We have all these cars in equal measures (and a lot of camper vans). What kind of pub are we?

  3. I live in a council house, but still, "Oi Gerroff moy laaand!!".

  4. Well, I drive a merc but I will drink any pub at any time.I have always been of the opinion that I can suss a pub by looking at it but I will still walk in as a matter of principle.

  5. Where does my 1995 Fiat Punto fit it? (It has a National Trust sticker, but no RSPB.)

  6. This post made me laugh - an old fashioned thumbs up, CM. But hang on, WTF is Tarragon Gravy?? The full car park syndrome caught us out last night in High Lane, the Royal Oak looked promising and a welcome change from Robbies and plenty of cars on the car park. Inside one customer and six handpumps dispensing near vinegar!

  7. "This post made me laugh - an old fashioned thumbs up, CM."

    Cheers - I think one or two others took this post slightly too seriously ;-)

    "Tarragon gravy" is taken from an actual Brunning & Price menu:

    "Braised shoulder of lamb with Summer greens, crushed new potatoes and tarragon gravy £16.95"


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.