FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 15 MARCH 2014
When you’re out for a country drive and chance across a village called Crudwell you really do have to stop for a pint. And so it happened. My designated driver needed the toilet so I suggested that we should pull into the car park and then enter the pub. Of course, my noble gesture was called-out for being the ruse that it was. But we were now in the car park and would soon be entering the pub. I’d have a pint and she’d have a wee. Everybody happy.
The Potting Shed is a decent sized multiroomed affair. It’s a nice place – like a the kitchen of a large country house. And it was busy – every table we saw was occupied. Thankfully the bar area was quiet. Within a second of sidling up a well dressed and well-mannered man had asked what we would like. The keg and bottles weren’t worth bothering about. The cask list wasn’t super inspired but showed a glimmer of promise: Butcombe Bitter, TT Landlord, Bath Gem and Malmesbury Day Star. I’d never had a beer from Malmesbury Brewery so it was an easy choice. £5.05 for a pint of beer and a half of lemonade. While I was awaiting my change I had a quick scan of the Potting Shed’s other occupants. They were all very well dressed and, in most cases, perfectly accessorized. I don’t mean the men were wearing three-piece suits and the women were wearing ballgowns. No. I mean it was obvious that nobody present spent any money at Asda or Primark or New Look. On the bar in a stylish holder was the champagne list. I almost felt like Japhy Ryder in The Dharma Bums. One nice touch (or sad gimmick) were the bespoke beer handles, which were the handles of spades. Some doors also had spade handles for pull bars. And the supposed reason for stopping? The toilets. They were lovely and clean. The gents had an old London tube map on the wall.
We carried our drinks outside and took up residence under an big weeping willow. The garden is spacious and neat with plenty of seats and tables. The beer was okay. The lemonade had fizz. The sun that had earlier brightened up the world had vanished behind some clouds so we drank quickly. Then left.
One day we may return. Every Saturday (starting in June) the Potting Shed holds a farmers market and it’s possible we’ll pay it a visit and see what wares it offers. And perhaps we’ll stay for lunch. But the fact that they serve a lot of their food on chopping boards instead of plates makes that less likely.
Once upon a time the Potting Shed was known as the Plough. The old name is still visible in the glass panelling above the front entrance. I can only assume that Plough sounded too rural, too agricultural, too working class.