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Life and love in the pub

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted October 14, 2013
pubs are ace
Pubs: They bloody rock! (Check bottom for credit)

Life without pubs would be crap. And we've got the stats to prove it.

It's a well-known fact that pubs are ace.

However, just how ace has been something that has baffled scientists and philosophers alike for countless aeons.

Until, that is, today.

For according to a new study commissioned by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and conducted by market research firm TNS, 75% of Brits have celebrated a friend's or family birthday in a pub.

Meanwhile, a CAMRA press release continues, 48% have been to a wake in a boozer while the same number have gone to one on a date.

A pub, that is.

Not a wake.

Although, why the hell not?

After all, death is said to be a powerful aphrodisiac, especially if you're a goth.

Anyway, CAMRA continues, 42% of Brits have also marked a wedding anniversary in a pub, with 36% having 'wet the baby's head' in such an established.

What's more, for all of you looking for that special someone to share your pork scratchings with, it turns out that 20% of Brits met their current partner in the cosy confines of a pub.

Clearly, these places kick big buttock.

And it would appear that CAMRA CEO Mike Benner feels the same way.

"This new research shows how many communities rely on the pub to celebrate important landmarks in our lives, from wetting the baby’s head to toasting someone's life," he says.

"With more local facilities, like community, halls closing around Britain, the British pub is for many the only facility the community can use."

Indeed, he continues, these new findings "throw open the question: Where would we be celebrating special occasions or meeting our future loved ones without the local pub?"

Good bloody question.

And here's another one: Why all these stats suddenly?

Well, the answer to that probably lies in the fact that October has been earmarked for Pubs in Our Lives, CAMRA's third national pub campaign of the year.

Yep, that's right, we should have run this press release a couple of weeks ago but as we were offline, undergoing a major revamp, we didn't.

Still, according to my watch, at least, it's not yet half-past the month, so on with the press release, which states that the objective of this particular campaign "is to highlight how often people use pubs for special events throughout their lives."

Part of CAMRA's wider Key Campaign to raise the profile of pubgoing and increase the number of people using pubs regularly, Pubs in Our Lives follows Community Pubs Month in April and Pubs & Charity Month in July.

"Almost four in 10 pub-goers highlighted in the new research that they are visiting the pub less often than they did just 12 months ago," Benner reveals.

"This is worrying and as a staggering 26 pubs are still closing every week it is important we use our pubs more regularly and not only for these special occasions."

"The British pub needs the British public's support throughout the year, otherwise community life will diminish in many parts of the country."

Well, Mr Benner, you can rest assured of one thing: the British pub has the full support of the Rake & Herald.

We bloody love pubs.

pub van
Blimey, that is a small pub: Oh no. That's a van. My mistake. (Check bottom for credit)

And talking of pubs, the "tiny" Railway Arms in Downham Market, Norfolk has now been named CAMRA National Cider & Perry Pub of the Year 2013.

Described by the competition judges as "a quirky, fun little place to be" and "a good reason to miss your train", the Railway Arms, so another press release reveals, is located directly on the platform at Downham Market Railway Station and "has proved a hit with weary travellers and locals alike – especially those looking to sample the finest real ciders and perries the area has to offer".

"We are overjoyed (and very humbled) to hear that the Railway Arms has won this year's CAMRA National Cider & Perry Pub of the Year Award and we wish to thank our customers, supporters and suppliers – in particular special mention must be made of Charles Roberts and the team at Pickled Pig and Paul Fisher and the directors of The Small Beer Company who, between them, have been very supportive in either making or sourcing fine ciders for us," says Ian Pinches, who runs the pub with his wife Lesley-Ann and their son Callum.

"As a 'micropub' we are naturally committed to the concept of 'small is beautiful' and, although we have extended our range this year, we remain focussed on selling high quality ciders, some of which are made by people we know personally, using locally grown apples – although we also like to stock cider and perry from far and wide in the UK, with some regular favourites alongside a frequently changing range of 'guests'."

CAMRA, this second press release continues, has been a long-time supporter of real cider and perry (the pear equivalent of cider), with the Cider & Perry Pub of the Year competition "an important way to raise the profile of pubs serving traditionally made real cider and perry across the UK".

"The number of pubs that have found a market for real cider is increasing each year, which has meant that the competition has become very tough," says Andrea Briers, chair of the CAMRA Cider and Perry Committee.

"I am lucky enough to live fairly close to the Railway Arms and have seen the work that Ian, Lesley-Ann and Callum put in to make the pub a welcoming local."

"Well done to them on their achievement and congratulations for a well deserved win."

In landing the gong, the Railway Arms beat off three other finalists, viz last year's winner the Royal Oak in Wantage; the Penrhyn Arms in Penrhynside; and the George and Dragon in Dent.

Moreover, news of the win also marked the beginning of CAMRA's Cider & Perry Month, which, in CAMRA's words, "asks pubs around the country to encourage customers to enjoy a real cider and perry at least once during October".

In line with this, "hundreds of events will be hosted by participating pubs and CAMRA branches throughout the month", so if you find yourself at a loose end over the coming weeks, you now know what to do.

Get down the pub!

Heck, you might just fall in love.

CAMRA's National Cider & Perry Pub of the Year award is given to the pub or club that best promotes and encourages sales of quality real cider and perry. Now in its ninth year, the award's "rigorous judging process whittles down nominations for pubs, clubs and cider houses from all over the UK to regional and then super regional finalists".

See also It's Community Pubs Month!, posted 4/4/13, Real cider sees real upswing, posted 12/10/12, and Royal Oak top for cider, posted 5/10/12.

Picture credits

Top and thumb: A plethora of pubs in Richmond, North Yorkshire by Gordon Hatton.

Bottom: A vintage Austin van outside the Railway Arms by Andy F.

For licensing information click the above links.

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