Posts tagged ‘children’

September 7, 2012

Pubs and children

It’s amazing how quickly time flies by.  It’s already nearly a week since I got home from a very enjoyable family holiday in Cornwall.  Obviously any holiday with a three-year old involved is going to involve a lot of child-friendly activities, and this one was no exception.  But a family holiday is also about just getting the rare chance to spend a bit more time together, and to me it is very important that it is a holiday for everyone, so in my case that means dragging the family to a few of the local pubs and hopefully getting to try a few beers that are not readily available back home or even better completely new to me.

As I’m generally doing the driving on our holidays, this rather limits the opportunities for me, but lunchtimes and evening meals are always good times for a half pint or two along with a bite to eat, and are actually reasonable value compared to .  All it takes is to find somewhere serving food that is child-tolerant.  But it also ideally has to be the kind of pub I want to have a drink in, so as not to squander what is a fairly limited opportunity.  I’m not a fan of the chains of “family pubs” that more often that not have a play area and hordes of screaming kids, and at best a pretty bland and uninspiring selection of ale.

We were very fortunate on this holiday to be able to go into a few very good pubs who were more than happy for us to take a young child in with us, and their menus generally catered well for children’s meals.  Dragging a hungry child in and out of pubs until you find a suitable one isn’t the best strategy, and so there were a couple of occasions where we had to go with the safe option – though actually the two Wetherspoons pubs we fell back on at these times actually were up there with the best in terms of the beers I had so everyone was happy.  A tolerant attitude to families with children meant I could visit the kind of pubs I would choose to go to on my own, or with friends.  Brewpubs like the Driftwood Spars at Trevaunance Cove and the Blue Anchor at Helston.  Friendly local places like the London Inn at Summerscourt or the Ship Inn at Looe.  And lots more.  And the first two mentioned were perfectly welcoming even when we were there just for a drink, not even for a meal.

Of course there is the whole argument about how children shouldn’t be allowed in pubs, they are places for adults, but pubs also need to attract as many customers as they can and I’m pretty sure we justified the tolerance of the places we went into by taking with us a good-mannered child who knows how to behave in a place that is for grown-ups.  I know we did in fact, because of the comments we got at the end of many of our visits.  But then, over the past four years we’ve taken our daughter into pubs and restaurants and taught her that she needs to regulate her behaviour.  When she was very young there were a couple of occasions where we had to take her out of somewhere because she was playing up, but the lesson quickly worked and we get the benefit now by having much more freedom to take her with us to the kind of places we want to go while we’re on holiday together.

My only complaint really, is that it is quite difficult to know how a particular pub feels about you going in with children.  One of my sources of information about pubs while out and about, the Good Beer Guide, indicates if a pub has a dedicated Family Room, but unless it happens to be mentioned in the general description places that are happy for you to take children into the main parts of the pub aren’t identified.  Even pubs’ own websites don’t always make it clear (although the presence of children’s options on an online menu is a good clue sometimes!) and we had to go into a few places in the hope that it would be alright – fortunately either a children’s menu or a quick check with the staff quickly clarified that.

So, publicans. Make it easy for me to identify you as somewhere that is happy to allow well-behaved children and I’ll be more than happy to give you my custom (if your beer selection appeals too, of course!).  Don’t tolerate bad behaviour though – that spoils it for the rest of us.  The pub isn’t a creche but there is no reason why it should be out of bounds to families.