I’ve mentioned before that I often tend to use CAMRA’s National Inventory as a kind of informal Mudgie pub guide. By definition, every pub on it has a distinctive interior of historic character. Many of the featured pubs are splendid establishments in their own right, in terms of character and atmosphere and, in my experience, most are rewarding places to visit.
While I’m not turning into an NI ticker, this year I’ve made a bit of an effort to visit some of the featured pubs within reach of me that I had previously missed. And it has to be said that one or two have turned out to be places that, setting aside their undoubted historic character, you really wouldn’t go out of your way to visit as pubs.
You can’t necessarily blame the people in charge of them, as they may be in rather unpromising locations for running a pub in the present-day climate, and I’m certainly not going to name names, although if you follow my travels on Twitter you may have gained some idea.
I wrote here about how some magnificent 1930s improved pubs “linger on as rather down-at-heel locals which rather give the impression of barbarians playing amongst the awesome ruins of Ancient Rome”. And it’s a salutary reminder that the National Inventory, while it will lead you to many excellent pubs, is not a cast-iron guarantee of quality.