With some trepidation I passed through the stone portal known to you as the front door in The Black Horse Inn at Cranham. CAMRA members have visited this pub regularly over the years but I haven’t set foot since that fateful lunch time nearly 20 years ago when I failed to duck sufficiently and ended up in A&E sporting 5 stitches! So forgive my apprehension. Everyone else negotiated the doorway without so much as a “would you like an anaesthetic with that?”
Inside and today we were greeted by a busy pub and restaurant on a Friday night. A goodly number of drinkers but predominantly diners at this time in the evening, as you’d expect; providing vital community cohesion for the village. The pub has been run for three and a half years by Chris and Carolyn Cardy and offers 3 real ales and several real ciders.
Beers: Otter Bitter 3.6%, Stroud Tom Long 3.8%, Sharps Doom Bar 4.0%
Ciders: Weston’s Country Perry 4.5%, Thatchers Cheddar Valley 6.0%
Chris was very welcoming of our CAMRA group and likes to describe his establishment as “a mad pub”, full of community spirit but with a twist. Exemplified by their current “Come Dine with Me” style pub competition. Run on a Monday night, already oversubscribed and comprising 3 teams that must feed no-less than 28 people and even judged by local folk too, that’s getting involved!
Chris – a native of Southampton but we won’t hold that against him (the author being from nearby Portsmouth!) – had never run a pub before the Black Horse; he and his wife being an engineer and a nurse in a past life. They grasped the opportunity presented when their kids left for UNI; travelled round the country on a narrowboat for 2 years and eventually decided they wished to run a pub. In particular a country pub and a Free House; Chris was passionate that it MUST be a Free House. Spending a lot of time researching over 600 likely candidates and using Google Earth to ensure the location was just right; Chris and Carolyn settled on the Black Horse Inn at Cranham and the locals are very happy about that!