My other half (who I probably ought to give a name to – let’s call him Mr Mill Road) and I decided to go the Earl of Beaconsfield on Saturday for a drink, as it had been a few weeks since our last visit. We were greeted by the usual friendly faces and warm atmosphere, but this time something was different – it was one of the customers, Matt, who was serving us our drinks. Now, this wasn’t totally unheard of (I’ve even been known to pull the odd pint in there over the years when they’ve been particularly busy!), but I asked Matt if he was now working there and he told me that he and his partner Susie had actually taken over the pub just three days before!
Those of you who know the Beaconsfield (or Beaccy as it’s often fondly referred to) will know that Martin had been running it for the last couple of years and that it had undergone a refurbishment back in August. There had been talk of him looking for someone else to take over at some point in the new year, but I think even Matt and Susie were a bit surprised when Martin announced a couple of weeks ago that he was heading back to Ireland and asked them if they could take the pub over from the following week.
It’s only been a few days, so their feet haven’t had much time to touch the ground. But they’re already looking at home behind the bar and are enjoying the new turn that their careers are taking – Susie is actually a web designer and Matt’s background is in copywriting (so it’s therefore no surprise that they are currently working on a website for the pub). Joining Matt and Susie is their lovely chocolate springer spaniel, called Smoky Bacon. I’m normally more of a cat person, but I have to say I think there’s something very homely about having a pub dog; and she’s already a big hit with the regulars.
On our visit, Mr Mill Road (he’s going to love this new name!) decided on a pint of London Pride, whilst I opted for a Guinness. I know the Guinness at the Beaconsfield is good (not least because they serve rather a lot of it) but this pint was somehow made even better by the whizzy new settling machine that was on the bar – which tells you when it’s ready to be topped up! I had never seen one before, but apparently they’ve been around for a while. Mr Mill Road has now taken rather a liking to London Pride and I suspect this is the beginning of a metamorphosis from ‘lager drinker’ into ‘ale drinker’ (well, it had to happen at some point). There’s a good selection of drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – and those of you who like your draught ale also have the option of Ghost Ship (perhaps a rather fitting one to try during Halloween week!) and Woodforde’s Wherry.
Mr Mill Road and I had a lovely time and so decided to make up for our lack of recent attendance by popping in again on Sunday after brunch (scrambled egg on toast with bacon and gherkins!) at home. It was a different crowd to Saturday, but still lots of friends and a good atmosphere. Football fans were catered for by the two large screens (one of which is actually a handy foldaway screen), but there was still ample space for those who weren’t interested in the matches and who wanted to chat instead.
Although Matt and Susie will undoubtedly bring their own personality and character to the pub, they are not looking to make big changes. They know that they’ve taken on a pub that works well and has a loyal following, and as customers themselves they know what works and what doesn’t. The regular music nights will still carry on – on Sundays there is a Blues/Rock Jam from 9-11pm and on Tuesday nights there’s an Acoustic Jam from 8:30 onwards. There’s also the traditional Irish Music Session on Thursday evenings.
The new look Beaconsfield has been working well since its August incarnation. Although the main layout did not change, the bar area was extended and some extra seating added, as well as a new look darts area and a revamp of the gents toilets. The separate games room also had a makeover and now has a TV as well as pool table. Although I think the refurbishment was much needed, one of the reasons I have liked the Beaconsfield over the years is that it has not tried to turn itself into one of those trendy new wine bars – the place now looks brighter and more welcoming, but without losing its essential character. I think the Earl of Beaconsfield has the balance just right, and with Matt and Susie now at the helm I think the pub will go from strength to strength. If you haven’t been in for a while (or indeed before) then why not pop in and say hello. I can highly recommend the Guinness!