Much has been written in recent times about the sad demise of that much loved British institution, the public house. A combination of economic woes, the smoking ban and drink drive legislation, have all contributed to it’s decline. Recent figures show that each week 25 pubs are closing down for good.

In February 2009 I wrote about how the pub at the end of our garden had closed quite suddenly. Since then the various comings and goings have kept us entertained. It’s hard to remember now exactly what has happened, because you don’t realise you have the beginnings of a story until some way down the line. Anyway I do know it re-opened in August 2009 and a permanent landlord was installed in October.

He didn’t last long despite the fact that he’d told me in one of our brief conversations that he was in it for the ‘long haul’. Word on the street was that he upset the customers, trade dropped off, so he cut his losses and ran.

He was only there a couple of months, and was followed by a succession of temporary managers. We assume they were employed by the brewery on a peripatetic basis. None of them stayed long, and it’s difficult to see what incentive they had. In theory I suppose they were there to build up some trade or at least keep what trade there was ticking over, but unless they’re on commission, what’s in it for them?

The managers came and went well into 2010, to be honest we couldn’t keep track of them. One cold day in February there was a forlorn little sign on the door saying ‘Closed no heat’. We think the chap who was there at the time was from Wales, and seemed to be on his own. Can you imagine anything worse in the middle of winter? Lonely, cold and miles from home in a pub with no heat and no customers. I assume he had beer so at least he could drown his sorrows.

Then towards the end of March things started to happen in the car park. A big digger arrived and proceeded to dig a huge hole into which they placed the biggest septic tank I have ever seen.  The work took them almost 3 weeks to complete and word on the street was that it  cost the brewery £50,000.

About a week into these proceedings our electric went off for over 3 hours. It turned out the workmen at the pub had got a bit over excited and cut through our overhead power-line with one of their machines.

In May the saga of the pub hedge started as we tried to find out who to contact at the brewery with a view to getting it cut. As you can see this was finally resolved on August 24th, and as you can also see the pub had just been re-let having once more being closed for months.

We couldn’t understand why the brewery was prepared to spend £50,000 on a new septic tank, plus whatever the hedge cutting cost, on a pub which had been in terminal decline for over 12 months.

Things drifted along until the end of the year and on 15.12.10 another sign went up, ‘Under New Management’. We didn’t know what had happened to the last lot who had been in since July, you’d have thought they would have tried to hang on until the Xmas and New Year rush was over.

As weeks and months went by we noticed little things that told us this ‘new management’ was at least trying to make a serious go of it. For a start he put up a greenhouse and started to grow some plants and fill some hanging baskets. He cut the grass regularly.

The outside lights went on and off with the opening and closing hours of the pub. Previous incumbents had kept the lights on all hours of the day and night. I shudder to think what their electric bills would be like.

Only small things I grant you, but it seemed to us like they cared.

To be continued. . . . . . . .