This was to be Joe's last outing with us as he has had enough of England and decided to return to his homeland, Canada. This is a sad occasion for us as Joe has long been a popular member of the club. He tells us that he intends to start up a similar club in his home town, Ontario. We wish him well in this venture, and look forward to establishing reciprocal visiting rights in due course.
Joe's departure means that there there will soon be a vacancy in our membership, and we were joined on this outing by a young contender, Nigel, who is hoping to step into Joe's place.
As usual with the Cricketers, there was some confusion about how best to get there. It's not far from Bishops Waltham as the crow flies, but it's not a very pleasant walk along the main road and we couldn't find any alternative routes, so we went by bus again. Since out last visit the local buses have changed and the now had to get a No. 10 bus, which follows the same circuitous route as the old No. 8, and thankfully still stops just outside the pub.
This is a Greene King pub, and the beers available were Sticky Wicket (3.7%), Old Trip (4.2%), and Speckled Hen (4.5%). The beers were served up by a delightful barmaid and found to be very quaffable.
There was only one type of pie available: A Steak Pie served with mashed potato (with chives) and mixed seasonal vegetables (green & yellow courgettes with carrots). So that's what we ordered.
This time the pies were shaped conventionally. They were good-sized individual pies made of short crust pastry packed with lots of meat, served with mixed vegetables which were perfectly cooked, and a delicious mashed potato with chives. A small amount of gravy was pre-applied, but more was provided, served separately in jugs on the side, just the way we like it. Although the pie was of a good size, we felt the portions of vegetables and potato were a bit on the small side, although they were very nicely cooked, and the whole meal was very tasty.
Afterwards we still felt a bit hungry so we sampled the puddings. There was a good selection to choose from, and they were all very nice.
The general ambience of the pub was very good. It's clean, has nicely up-market furnishings, and has no distractions such as music or fruit machines. The gardens are extensive but we didn't use them as the weather wasn't very good. The service was good, but unfortunately the pub closes at 3.00pm. We had to wait ages for the bus back to Bishops Waltham as the bus had broken down and was running half an hour late. We could have done with the pub still being open as this was valuable drinking time which is now lost for ever.
Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):
- Pastry 3.81
- Filling 3.98
- Beer 4.19
- Ambience 3.86
- Value 3.59
- Overall 19.44
This score is slightly down on the 2013 score, and puts The Cricketers 5th out of 5 pubs visited so far this year. There's nothing wrong with this pub, and the meal was excellent, but other pubs are better. Our scores may have been affected by our sadness at losing Joe and paying for his share of the bill.