I can always tell it’s Mothers Day. The daffodils are out, there’s warmth in the sun and my summer-long yearning to chiii-ll by water begins.
I’ve no preference over what kind of water. Riverside is heaven: a mellow stream, weeping willows and the occasional swan, but hum-huu… the sea is dreamy too, salty air blowing away those winter cobwebs, seagulls, yachts and platters of local seafood. And lucky me, because Hants is heaving with waterside eateries — be it river, estuary or crashing wave.
Stop Press: our friends at The Little Kitchen Company are offering a free coffee to all Muddy Readers when you order brunch or lunch. Just show this page when you visit!
To most of us — raised on Friends and Central Perk and Rachel-Ross’ will they won’t they-ing — brunch culture holds a special appeal: an easy amble to your neighbourhood cafe for flat-whites, poached eggs and papers.
All this disappears in a puff of petrol fumes, when you motor your life and worldly possessions from SW1 into deepest Hampshire.
Hidden away in a corner nook of The Crown Inn, I am nibbling crunchy scotch eggs with a glass of Pietas Red to hand. Life is sweet. The space wins an easy ‘dix points’ for atmosphere and decor; it is not loud, it is not kitsch — never segueing into rustic theme-park territory — but understated, modern and thoroughly British: all cow-print rugs, exposed flint, vintage maps of Hampshire and a delicious wood fire, much needed on this bone-cold Thursday lunchtime.
There’s no mistaking this snug drinkery’s spit-and-sawdust origins; you can easily imagine cheeky, peaked-cap chappies winking at you from the bar. This is, after all, Winchester where past and present are often confused: as I write in the city library, a Norman Knight passes on his way to the Gents. There’s a very 21st century re-enactment outside my window so forgive me if I’m distracted by burly men in chainmail…
Have no fear though, you won’t be greeted by suspicious locals, or warriors, at The Green Man.