Alastair Sawday's beginning description is captivating enough to make me stop and read the rest, even if the pub itself doesn't seem to exactly jump off the page. "Drovers" is not a word that is in the average American's vocabulary, and it instantly pulled my mind back across time to Sir Walter Scot's fine short story, "The Two Drovers". But, unlike Sir Walter's tale, you will not find any fighting between long-friends at this cozy pub.
It is billed as a "village inn set in the hangers of Hampshire" but I don't know what Hampshire's "hangers" might be. I say "pub" but it is really an inn foremost, I think - at least the atmosphere would match an American's mental image of what an early inn was supposed to be like: two small rooms with timbered walls; brick inglenook fireplace aglow in winter; scrubbed elm benches and tables, no bar... what? No bar? But still very much a pub despite. Only a hatch-like serving counter with barrels of local ale resting on racks.
"There's a small wild orchard garden, and some weather-worn rustic benches to the front. Food is limited to generously-filled sandwiches, split-pea and ham soup full of fresh vegetables served with great chunks of bread, a ploughman's platter...served with a smile."
The Harrow Inn. Steep, Petersfield, Hampshire. In Claire and Nisa McCutcheon's family since 1929.