The Hyde Tavern-Winchester
Posted on January 21, 2013
The latest establishment to feature on the epic, some might say thrilling, Steve and Bob Sunday pub tour of Hampshire was the wonderful Hyde Tavern in Winchester, a tiny and cosy little place half way along Hyde Street as you approach the town centre.
The first word that came in to my head on entering this pub was ‘Bohemian’ as it was furnished with series of excellent paintings that turned out to be all the work of one of the landlady’s two daughters. The fireplace and low ceilings gave the pub an immediate welcoming feeling and the other daughter, who, it turned out, is a singer and songwriter, made us very welcome as she left her family card game to come and serve us.
Fireside cards at The Hyde Tavern in Winchester
As I was this weeks nominated driver, I stuck to the weakest ale on offer which was the Cheriton brewed Flower Pots bitter, which I have to say, was kept superbly and almost too easy on the palette for someone restricted to two pints. Not being one to punch a gift horse in the mouth, Steve took full advantage of his Sunday as a passenger and wholeheartedly tried the other beers on offer and was particular impressed with the bitters from the White Horse brewery in Oxfordshire, in fact so impressed, he emptied the barrel. The general consensus was that this was a landlady who was proud of her pub and the quality of here beer she had on offer, you just can’t fault that.
The pub had a scattering of locals and we got talking to one friendly old chap, a fly fisherman, who offered us graphic conversation about his botched hip operation whilst still conscious and the origin (colonial India) of his walking stick which he had assessed, would easily crush a skull before it snapped. Believing him, I decided not to take it up as a Sunday night challenge.
He also entered into a detailed discussion with Steve about the varying quality of wood from different trees of Hampshire; a conversation which quite frankly, left me metaphorically swimming in the deep end after multiple limb amputations . As a consequence, I decided instead, to chat to Ruth, one of the daughters (the musician) an interesting girl, who it turns out, lives on a narrow boat on the River Lea in Stoke Newington, North London, despite Seb Coe and his Olympic cronies trying to chase her away.
Ruth Theodore and her band playing False Alarm
As the card game meandered to its conclusion and Ruth left with her girlfriend to catch a train back to North London, the landlady came and joined us and insisted that Steve finish the barrel of beer he had so enjoyed; who was he to argue? It turns out that she had been for many years, an education officer in Winchester prison. She was very natural as a landlady, sociable, interesting and immensely proud of her two daughters, who she encouraged to live the dream of being musicians and artists and why not, I say. Bloody good luck to them, it must be more fun than selling electricians for a living.
So, all in all, it was a very interesting evening in a lovely old pub with no thrills attached, just a friendly and welcome atmosphere. If you are looking for modern fittings, jukeboxes and fruit machines, I suggest yo stay well clear. If, however, you like a decent pint and a bit of interesting and diverse conversation with local people, the Hyde Tavern in Winchester is well worth a visit.
I shall definitely be going there again, hopefully when it is my turn to be a passenger.