Returning from the Continent Tuesday with not a stick of food in the house a decision to keep it Continental for tea had been made before foot was set off Preston Railway Station.
Within the quarter-hour, nursing an ice-cold goblet of Symonds Founders Reserve in The Continental of Broadgate’s beautiful beer garden with a dose of sausage and mash on the horizon, the wisdom of this move was plain to all.
Well, to me, at any rate, and the rest can please themselves.
The previous seven days had been spent imbibing Teuton-style, deep in the Black Forest for the most part – a region in which the beer garden is highly prized – and I’ve no doubt the discerning alfresco ale set over there would have been more than happy over here.
The weather had brought out a healthy crowd for what cliched thickwits might refer to as a ‘school night’ but which was, as the non-gits among us know, just another weekday evening for consenting adults to spend exactly as they saw fit.
To describe the setting as idyllic might err on the side of hyperbolic, the prices of both food and beverage are a fraction steep, but on a summer evening such as this one is inclined to consider the odds a defensible premium.
Anyhow, drinkwise I stuck with the cider. Aforementioned Symonds is a decent enough drop – sweet hints yet retaining a nice crisp dry snap – but nothing to make me hanker after a refill.
Instead, an Aspull Suffolk Cider, a superior sup – to my taste – by every measure.
Less gassy than the Symonds with light sparkle and no trace of head, the tangy aroma of green apple fair sprang from the glass. Fruity, clean, dry as a bone and refreshing, the finish left a clean trap in its wake.
Frighteningly, no small impression had been made on this second measure yet still no sight of food. With a strict two-pint rule in place (after a solid seven days tasting the wares of what might be Europe’s greatest single beer region) my great worry, fear almost, was that a third might be called for.
Sadly the nosh – my bangers plus a handsome steak pie and chips – at last made an appearance and showed themselves well worth the wait.
It only remained to sit back, bask and watch the fading rays play upon the behemothic charms of the 160-odd-year-old East Lancashire Railway Bridge towering over the soft flowing Ribble below.
A mesmerising mix of rural peace, industrial charm, and cool river ambience I doubt there is a more engaging beer garden to be found anywhere in Lancashire, and if not here then why anywhere else?
Felt good to be home.
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