A visit to the Royal Oak, East Lavant
Or how to banish the Sunday evening blues
Much as I like my job, I’m still prone to a bout of the Sunday evening blues. Wondering where the weekend went and why I haven’t done half the things that needed crossing out on my to-do list.
I think the cure for this is to start work on a Sunday afternoon – by reviewing dinner and an overnight stay at a country pub.
My companion and I drove out from London on a grey Sunday afternoon, with at least an encouraging patch of blue in the sky.
After an easy journey we arrived at the Royal Oak in East Lavant, pushed open a heavy, old oak door, embellished with a 150-year-old brass plaque warning ‘poachers would be shot’.
One of the reasons I’d wanted to stay at this particular pub is that it billed itself as a ‘dog friendly hotel’ and so I had brought along Jimmie, my black spaniel crossbreed. Dogs are a great judge of atmosphere. If somewhere has it right, they’ll settle down happily for a snooze. If anything jars, they won’t.
We were shown to our room – in fact a small cottage at the back of the pub, with a large L-shaped sofa downstairs just made for lolling in front of a fireplace.
“Would he like a bed too?” the maid asked, pointing at Jimmie. As he was also there to review the place I accepted, but put his blanket on top to give it that familiar smell.
Off to the beach
The weather had cleared up a bit and there’s not much better than having a raging appetite for dinner, so after dropping our overnight bags, we drove to nearby West Wittering beach to blow away the winter cobwebs.
On the way we drove past a large field of pigs, happy and muddy, with their corrugated sty shelters nearby. As a Somerset girl I grew up eating pork and that’s how I like to see pigs kept.
It made me think of environment secretary Michael Gove’s recent announcement for a “gold standard” labelling system on meat and dairy products after Brexit, which will make it clear which animals are kept outside and which are kept indoors. Such labels will show us, for example, which milk is produced by cows that are grass fed with unlimited outdoor grazing and which milk is produced by cattle kept captive in sheds.
Of course, fresh game doesn’t need labelling when it’s literally field to fork, or shot to pot. Like all the best food, it’s unprocessed and comes in its own packaging.
After a good hour of being pleasantly blown along the beach we returned to our little cottage for a reviving cuppa. In a corner of the downstairs room was a tray laid out for tea with – best of all – real milk in the mini fridge. A big tick in the Royal Oak’s favour; so many hotels let themselves down by only providing UHT milk. There was even a bottle of dog beer for Jim on the house and some homemade dog biscuits.
It was Lent and I had given up alcohol – but Sunday is a feast day during Lent and so a day off. We had a fabulous 2012 claret, which was the perfect accompaniment.
What I thought
Bev’s Homemade Dog Biscuits Ingredients 2 cups rolled oats 1 cup peanut butter 2 bananas Method Place in food processor…
Things I particularly noticed
- Wellies, sticks and brollies were on offer at the door for walkers
- Considering it had been Mothering Sunday that day, the staff weren’t jaded and were still eager to please. Better still, everything was still available on the menu.
- The dog beer and homemade dog biscuits
- The peace and quiet at night
- Delicious pigeon
- Definitely a dog-friendly atmosphere. My dog felt quite at home and settled.
- Not a glimmer of the Sunday evening blues. At all.