2 Aug, Hampshire Hog
Ahhh The Hampshire Hog, what’s not to love? A large car park, children’s play area, views to the A3, ….and er, some less favourable reviews on Tripadvisor.
‘Service without a smile’
‘The worse pub ever’
‘………..fly in beer’
These little snags aren’t going to put off a herd of Shabi’s, and as the Five Bells at Buriton, with substantial and tasty mains with a pint thrown in for nought, was not available, we were happy to take second best. (Actually the Hampshire Hog is voted 5 of 5 pubs in Clanfield, but that’s just statistics, right, numbers can be massaged to mean anything).
Any fears of the Hampshire Hog not stepping up to the mark to meet the high standards of the Shabi’s was soon displaced. It became apparent that the Hampshire Hog is frequented by the stars, there was a comedy legend in our presence. None less than Ed Byrne was in the house.
The presence of celebrities was too much for some of the Shabi’s. Star-struck Nurse Brown and Slumpy hastily grabbed hold of Ed’s steed (even though Ed has a net worth which exceeds that of the whole Shabi pack combined he chooses a low profile approach which hides his wealth, and completes his international comedy circuit on a Boardman cycle). With the steed in the hands of Nursey and Slumpy they began to strip parts from the chain, no doubt hoping to sell the parts on ebay to other Ed fans. https://edbyrne.com/
The whole process of engaging with the stars, collecting autographs, suggesting one liners which Ed may wish to include in his set, all had a negative affect on departure time. Pedal time is scheduled for 18:30. Nurse Brown and Slumpy were finally ready to leave Ed’s side at 18.45.
So at last we were ready for departure. A quick count up indicated 13 Shabi’s. This included a new recruit, another Bush. Luckily Kate (Bush senior), has been very helpful in the Shabi bid to balance the gender types in our ranks, by bringing along his son, named Emma. With the additional of Emma, as well as recent joiners Kate and Mrs Doyle we are well on our way to our Shabi target of 50:50 gender split. This will no doubt soon be achieved by our recently appointed Gender Equalities Officer, Big Ring, who has been trying to balance the gender distribution on rides. To date, hanging around outside ladies toilets and dressing in drag to encroach into the inner circles of the Womens Institute to attract new Shabi members has failed to add to our numbers but all is not lost, we know we have the best man on the job so we are expecting more positive results in the near future.
With new man Gary Numan taking on the role of DRM we were off! A bit of tarmac to start but what’s wrong with that, a nice bit of black top means comfort and speed, and due to our late departure speed was of the essence.
Into QE Park and all is uneventful. Past the Five Bells at Buriton, bet they don’t have any celebrities in the house, and then up to Weston. Not recommended, but a short section of footpath was followed which led us nicely to the rocky route which the RM has helpfully described as technical. Before we can enter, LBD informs us he needs to tackle the rocks on an empty bladder so therefore provides the first water in these parts for 3 months. With a hose pipe ban looming it goes to show again how helpful the Shabis are in contributing to the needs of the wider community. Well done that man!
Now we can enter the rocky route, oh no wait a minute, Slash has his bike upside down and is requesting all those on-looking to identify the noise he can hear. Much time was spent pushing, pulling, tightening, turning. Is it a mechanical, apparently not, is it time consuming, yes. The RM is becoming distraught, time is not his friend, the route ahead is long. The Hampshire Hog is beckoning.
Off we go, down the rocky route. At the bottom water! Is this a natural spring, or the contents of LBDs bladder? No time to check, need to press on. Oh no, RG Bhaji is having a lie down! No time for this, so after a dusting off RG joins the rest of the pack for the steep climb out of the rocky route.
Another mile or so further along the route back to the Hampshire Hog our own Strangely Brown also takes a lie down. Blaming the terrain and troughs in the route, SB blocks the route for another 5 minutes. Checking to make sure SB has not lost his rear light or any rubber bungees which hold the light to the frame we can finally set off again. Apparently Dobbie and Nurse Brown also dismounted their bikes when not meaning to, so that’s 4 falls on the ride reported. Oh dear, more concentration needed!
Next is the climb of doom. Up to the South Downs Way along a route defended by brambles and a narrow trough to trap your wheels. This is fun with a capital F. At the top of the climb the Shabis described the mount with delight and joy. I think if we weren’t so keen to enjoy the Hampshire Hog we would pedal down and climb again.
The Hampshire Hog is near now, but not near enough to compete the rest of the planned route. The presence of Ed Bryne at pedal off delayed departure and therefore a short cut was required to ensure we could fully enjoy the Hampshire Hog on time.
Upon entry to the Hampshire Hog our food orders arrived on the table. Half the Shabis were at the bar, some were still dressing for dinner, a handful were at the table surrounded by arriving plates of food from the kitchen. Did the Hampshire Hog want us out quickly? Did we not possess the necessary celebrity status?
Most Shabis enjoyed pies and burgers, normal pub fayre. Strangly Brown went off piste and ordered a canape for a main course. Apparently, it was smoked cod with three sad potatoes and a bit of garnish. Looked a bit paltry to me and steep at £17.50, but SB appeared happy, or maybe he was just delirious from the copious loss of blood from his earlier lie down.
A total of 14 miles completed. 11 meals, 12 t shirts, DM TsJ, DRM Gary Numan
Pub rating: Mediocre.