You might not get the best out of me with The Horse and Trumpet. Martin Taylor, the guy in the photo above, had dragged me out of the wonderful Real Ale Classroom and it’s even more wonderful beer. So, here I am, a short route march and a 15 minute bus ride into the depths of suburban Leicester.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether we were in Leicester or not? We hadn’t gone that far really, but I saw a sign proclaiming that we were in Wigston. Research tells me it’s a town of 30,000 souls, South of Leicester. On that basis, I make no comparisons with other city centre boozers, it would be unfair. To give you some idea though, there were only a couple of other people on the bus, and we saw no other pedestrians on our walk from the bus stop to the pub, and not many motor vehicles.
First impressions? A country boozer that had been overtaken by urban sprawl. One can only wonder what the cross roads on the A5199, nicely named Bull Head Street at this point, was like 150 years ago when the pub was built (I’m guessing here); a pleasant rural overnight stop, or much needed victuals before the last five miles into the city centre?
There is a small town centre just off the main road, and to be fair the pub had a proper local feel to it. There weren’t many in at 9.45pm, a few guys around the bar and a table full of blokes playing some sort of card game that I couldn’t fathom out, they looked like a football team sort of collection? Sorry, no Ladies in on a Tuesday night, apart from the welcoming barmaid.
All the punters had gravitated to the left of the large main room and had crowded around the TV, half heartedly watching the wash up from the Champion’s League fixtures. There was lots of Leicester City ephemera around the walls, and the illumination confirmed that dreary interior lighting is a bit of a fixture in these parts. Mind you, if they’d turned it up everyone would have seen how big a pub it was and how few people were in.
Sadly, half empty pubs, particularly out in the sticks are a feature of Tuesday night in modern Britain. I’ve no doubt they do a roaring trade at the weekend. The Pub’s Facebook page tells me there’s regular musical entertainment; live and DJ’s.
I guess the big question is; How many people only go out to the pub when there’s Football on? Go on, be truthful! Perhaps not folk who are reading this maybe, but there’s an awful lot of average folk, who for a variety of reasons fit this cohort.
Please don’t let the Great British Pub end up like Rugby Union – it’s there all around us, the chattering classes never stop talking and reading about it, but only the true supporters regularly go to watch it, unless it’s a test match! Apologies to Leicester Tigers here, an exception to the rule, and one of the better supported Union clubs with attendances on a par with the smaller Premier League Football clubs (there are a couple of others). Remember, a Pub is for life, not just for Christmas (or live football on TV)!
No surprises The Horse and Trumpet is an Everard’s pub. The Tiger was cock on, best all day actually (out of two anyway). I had it at NBSS 3.5 and a bit, and £3.40 a pint. They didn’t seem to be selling much though. All the lads sat around the long table at the side of us were drinking Pilsner variations, and an odd one with a soft drink.
Most interesting feature, a skittle thingy. Not the West Country skittles alley and not the table skittles with the ball on a string. This sort of Table Skittles is properly called Hood Skittles and is popular in the Leicester area where they have league competitions. I would have liked to have had a go, but I wasn’t sure how you played it and there was no one to ask because everyone else in the pub was huddled up in the far corner. Apparently, you stand back from the table and throw cheese shaped discs from a distance. I’m glad they still play it, it’s traditions like this that give us our identity.
Verdict: Decent roadside pub that was suffering the plight of many other ‘out of town’ boozers on a Tuesday night, despite being surrounded by chimney pots and having decent ale on.