The Royal Oak is an absolutely fabulous pub having the full Harveys range. I’d give it a very high must visit and see, if only for the excellent cask ale from Harveys. It has good, wide open working space behind the central bar, which is unusual for many English pubs, with serving bars on both sides.
Two out of town barmen, both former pub owners who were partially retired, were in for the Friday night session all the way up from Hove, Sussex. Lots of entertaining characters pass through of an evening, including a chap in pointed-toe cowboy boots wearing a white Stetson who waded in and wanted to be noticed. He was certainly noticed, as well as being quite funny in the Monty Python mode.
Ypres Castle, East Sussex
I remember it was a cool, damp fall day in Rye, East Sussex, England, a day when indoors appealed more than out. I had just made my way to Ypres Castle, a wonderfully unspoiled pub accessible only on foot. I had procured a pint of cask conditioned Harveys XX at the bar and had seated myself at a table along a wall.
A man came in and dumped large, smokeless coal briquettes into a couple of fireplaces located around the perimeter of the spacious room. In turn, he then proceeded to ignite the coal in each fireplace using a flame throwing welder’s torch. Within a very short time the fireplaces were aglow, and heat was radiating outward across the room. Soon the room was toasty warm.
Despite my misgivings, I had to admit that this unconventional means of starting a fire indoors was very efficient and I showed my appreciation by having another pint of fine cask conditioned ale with the heat dancing merrily on my face.