Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Bunch of Grapes, Bishops Waltham, 26th August 2012

To help us celebrate the first anniversary of  the founding of the Pie Club we invited spouses, friends, and hangers-on to join us at a very special venue, our favourite pub of all time, The Bunch of Grapes in Bishops Waltham.

As usual, we were warmly greeted by Stuart, the landlord, who immediately offered us a choice of Goddards Ale of Wight 3.7%, or Sharps Doom Bar 4%. Two very acceptable ales.

 This was also the first occasion on which all members of the Pie Club managed to turn up for a meeting, and here is (very nearly) the proof (Doug was present, but too busy chatting with some ladies to make himself available for this historic photo). Here we (nearly) all are, proudly wearing our Pie Club badges:

The Bunch of Grapes is well-known as a beer-drinker's pub, but not so well known for its ability to serve up food. In fact they don't serve food at all, generally. But we Pie Club members are a resourceful lot, and Trev ordered a special delivery of pies from the Manydown Butchery, an award-winning butchery and farm shop near Basingstoke. Not just one pie, but two. For starters we had a Traditional Pork Pie, recent winner at the recent Butches Q Guild Awards Ceremony:

This was an excellent cold pork pie, very tasty, though maybe a little on the large side, as it didn't leave a lot of room for what was to follow. What could possibly follow a pie starter? Well obviously, a pie main course.  This was a hot Beef & Burgundy Pie (also a recent winner at the recent Butches Q Guild Awards Ceremony), served with delicious mashed potato and peas:

This was a very tasty pie, and the mashed potatoes were very good too. In a pub which doesn't normally do any catering, it took a lot of effort and organisation to serve more than 40 hot pies out all at the same time, so our thanks go to Mandy, the lovely landlady, and her helpers, who did an excellent job. In recognition of her efforts, Mandy was duly elected an honorary member of the Pie Club, and here she is proudly showing off her badges:

To round off the evening there was a pie-themed quiz, in which, contrary to expectations, the Pie Club members seemed to do very badly, but at least that shows that it was all fair and above-board, which is more than can be said, perhaps, for the raffle, in which some Pie Club members did very well. In spite of that, the raffle raised a substantial sum in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

Trev expressed the thoughts of all of us when he thanked Stuart & Mandy and all the other people who helped to make this a memorable evening. And finally Pieman (who had been  observing the evening's proceedings from his secret bunker somewhere in Bishops Waltham) got in touch to give special thanks to Trev, who had organised the whole evening.

As we made our weary way home amid the gathering dark, most of the guests seemed to be quite pie-eyed, showing that they had had a good evening.

As the Pie Club members seemed to be among the most pie-eyed of them all, it proved to be impossible for them to formally score the session in the usual way. In any case, this was so different from our normal outings that the normal scoring system probably shouldn't apply. But an informal poll undertaken later by Pieman showed the following scores for The Bunch of Grapes, Bishops Waltham (Max 5 in each category - total 25 overall)

Pastry - 5
Filling -  5
Beer   -  5
Ambience - 5
Value  - 5
Overall  - 25

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