The go-to site for what makes life worth living in and around Petersfield, Hampshire, and some other stuff too. For flaneurs, bon vivants, indeed boulevardiers of every complexion - why go anywhere else?

Friday, 31 October 2008

for fans only: 'Joe Strummer, The Future is Unwritten'

Really for fans only, and undiscriminating fans at that. Some fascinating archive footage which really takes you back to the grey, grim days of England in the 70s, some good concert footage (though not a lot that you can't get elsewhere), but for me the relentless mythologising, by the various (largely un-named and uncredited) interviewees, and by Joe himself gets a bit wearying. The Clash made some tremendous music, but Joe himself, while his constant seeking after some kind of truth and justice is laudable, wasn't the clearest or most consistent of political thinkers and shouldn't be celebrated as such. I also lost patience with the Julian Temple style; the free-association of loosely-related images with the Strummer story quickly came to seem less playfully amusing and more like tiresome padding (to put it politely)... to be honest, I'd have preferred a shorter film that told it straight. 

Best bits: generous contributions from Mick Jones and Topper Headon, some great footage from the States, where they really do look like
the last great rock and roll band. More from Paul Simenon would have been welcome, but you sense that Paul had had enough of Clash nostalgia. 

Conclusions: If you're a big and unquestioning fan of Joe and the Clash you're going to love this film. If you're anything less, you may find your hand starting to wander towards the remote...

Rocktastic: Guy Pratt's 'My Bass and Other Animals'

Matey, blokey memoir of an itinerant and highly enviable musical life in the studio and on the road over the last thirty years or so with some of the biggest names in rock. Guy Pratt is the sideman's sideman, far from shy but not desperately seeking the spotlight at the centre stage either. So this isn't the usual stodgy soup-to-nuts account of life with one band, as so many rock memoirs are, but rather, a delightful dim sum of stories from his life as a kind of rock and roll Zelig, backing up Icehouse, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer, Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Power Station, Jimmy Page and the proverbial host of others, on all kinds and sizes of stages and in some of the most famous studios in the world. 

Very much the main course dish in this buffet is the Floyd, for whom Guy 'has been' Roger Waters when occasion has called over many years (even backing him up from the side of the stage at Live 8). What makes it work is an endearing modesty - 'wot, me?' could almost act as a subtitle to 'My Bass...' - a gift for the telling anecdote and a sharp wit - there's some ripely funny stories in this book. A great insight too into what goes on backstage in the studios and on the road (Guy has never been shy about partaking in all that's on offer to the touring musician but seems to have kept his marbles and his ego under control throughout). All in all, a rollicking good read - and a rocktastically, enviably good life...

Violent, profane... excellent: In Bruges

Took me a while to warm to In Bruges, but in the end I liked it a lot. As a story it's more or less completely nuts, and at times they appear to be making it up as they go along, but the script is sharp, it looks great - like a Belgian brown bar made into a film - and Gleeson and Farrell's performances carry the day, making the sketchiest and unlikeliest of plots - which this certainly is - into something quite resonant and even touching. It is, of course, completely unfair on poor little Bruges, but that's consistent with a film which is not exactly a monument to justice and fair play - Farrell in particular spreads his prejudices around pretty even-handedly. Warning: if you're sensitive to profanity, this movie is not for you - if they cut the F and C words (delivered with typically Irish brio), the film would probably only run to about twenty minutes. If you like this, try 'The Matador [2005]', which has a similar feel... 

The Five Bells, Buriton

4 miles south of Petersfield. Rising from the slough of mediocrity into which it had sunk in recent years, The Five Bells shows every sign of reclaiming the status it once enjoyed as a really great country inn. Roomy, comfortable, traditional bar on one side, classy but equally loafable restaurant area on the other. Menus are reassuringly short. Good range of ales - King & Barnes' excellent Sussex going down well when we visited. Very friendly service. Was once famed for its Sunday lunches and has that feel again now. Food is certainly good, and portions are generous to a fault - does anyone order pudding here? More reports welcomed. Early days, but a hearty welcome back already seems justified.  High Street, Buriton, 01730 263584 GMAP

The Vine, Hambledon

7 miles south west of Petersfield. Handsome old pub in the exquisite, chocolate box Hampshire village recognised as 'the Cradle of Cricket' and home to the Hambledon Vineyard. Nice mix of eating, drinking and plain loafing-about areas with a handful of shaded tables on a deck out back. Excellent menu and good beers, including the Vine's own and a fine example from the Black Sheep brewery in Cumbria. Melanie Flint from the Lone Barn B&B (looks damn nice itself) put the Hipster on to this one: "a lovely atmospheric local pub serving excellent food with great service." She was right, and we'll be back regularly. Get there: head west from the A3 through Clanfield on a rolling road which will take you past Broadhalfpenny Down, the oldest cricket ground in England and still, surely, one of the most dramatically located (home of the feared Broadhalfpenny Brigands). The Vine is located at the far end of Hambledon's main street. 023 9263 2419. GMAP

The Royal Oak, Hooksway

9 miles south of Petersfield. Genuinely ancient - the building dates back to the 1500s and it's been an inn for at least half that time. Visiting the Royal Oak isn't a 'heritage experience' however - it's a functional village pub in the old-fashioned sense, serving good beer and plain but decent food, much of it to walkers and cyclists passing through between Chichester and the South Downs Way. Easy to miss - Hooksway is down a single track lane east off the B2141 Chichester - South Harting road, south of Harting Down. Blink and you'll miss it. 01243 535257 GMAP

The Fox Goes Free, Charlton

12 miles east and south of Petersfield. Rangy, popular, comfortable old country pub. Stylish restaurant too, offering really exceptional quality and value - the Hipster was quite moved on its last visit by a piece of perfectly cooked belly pork at a very reasonable price. Excellent wines and beers, including its own traditional Fox bitter at a refreshing 3.5°. Nice garden where you can sit under old apple trees and enjoy lovely views of the downs.  Rooms available, popular with the horse crowd. Regular music nights and poker school. Quite terrific really. More detail here. Get there: turn east at Singleton off the Midhurst/ Chichester road, travel two to three miles along a single track road. 01243 811461  GMAP

The Country Inn, Bepton

Real traditional community village pub. Not horsebrassed and whitewashed and generally chi-chied to death, but properly characterful, comfortable and friendly. Good beer, plain but tempting food (ham, bubble & squeak and poached eggs caught the Hipster's eye), boules in the summer, big log fire in the winter, lots of room and distractions for kids in the garden. Community notice board, newspapers, book exchange... why doesn't every village have a pub like this? Get there: a mile or so west of Midhurst on the Bepton road, keep your eyes peeled for Severals Road on the right as it's easy to miss. 01730 813466 GMAP

The White Horse, Easebourne

Just outside Midhurst, 9 miles or so east of Petersfield. Good unspoiled country pub, battered leather armchairs, fires, pub grub of the old skool. Greene King ales. Top of the range pub dog. Best pub in and around Midhurst that the Hipster knows of. Get there: Signposted just off the A272 half a mile or so east of Midhurst, opposite Cowdray's tradesmen's entrance. 01730 813521 GMAP

The White Horse, Rogate

The White Horse, Rogate. 4 miles. Solid village pub, decent food, great Harveys beers. Used to be a good bet for a quiet pint and a seat but was chocka the last time the Hipster dropped by. Easy for the unwary to shoot past and then find nowhere to tie up, but actually there's a good sized car park right behind the pub. Deservedly popular. Get there: right on the A272 in the middle of Rogate, opposite the church. Parking behind the pub, entrance on the right hand side. 01730 821333 GMAP

The Hamilton Arms, Stedham

7 miles east of Petersfield. This place is different. The region's #1 Thai boozer (from a fairly small pool, admittedly), combining Thai restaurant with what feels oddly like a London local that has been bodily transported to the West Sussex woodland, complete with clientele. Worth visiting at least once a year, when the pub creates the fantastic Eastern Cultural Fair, taking over the woods and clearings opposite the pub, filling them with Thai and other eastern food stalls plus Asian entertainments and exotica, a little bit of Glastonbury landed in West Sussex and really rather fab. Get there: half a mile or less north of the A272, between Trotton and Midhurst, signposted. 01730 812555 GMAP

Three Horseshoes, Elsted

7 miles or so east and south of Petersfield. Ancient pub with great atmosphere and spectacular views over the downs from the garden, really very good. Food is classic British... Sussex lamb cutlets, Selsey crab, Scottish mussels, lobster salad, venison, Dover sole, and some extremely toothsome puddings. Beers are from the barrel, wine list is short but good.  Manages to cater to both the real ale and the champagne crowd (it's within the gravitational pull of both Goodwood and Cowdray Park) while maintaining its own identity. This is a gastropub dating from years before anyone coined the term, and full of brisk confidence. A local great with which the Hipster is a touch smitten. Definitely a pub to settle down and grow old with. Get there: Elsted is signposted south from the A272 between Midhurst and Trotton; follow your nose for a couple of miles. 01730 825746. GMAP

The Keepers Arms, Trotton (restaurant)

Five miles east of Petersfield on the A272, more grape than grain (though two or three excellent local ales can be depended on) and certainly a finer and more consistent dining experience than it ever was. Taken over and revamped in 2007 and given a design makeover consistent with its short, sharp menu, losing some of its wilder eccentricities but retaining its intriguing spaces.  The kitchen functions brilliantly, producing modern British food of an extremely high standard - the best the Hipster has enjoyed on the Sussex side of Petersfield by some distance, and several correspondents have informally commended it too. Nicely balanced wine list and warm service. Undeniably it's more of a restaurant than a pub, but the generous lounging space in big leather sofas and armchairs by the fire (and the south-facing terrace outside) give it a great, relaxed feel. A serious destination for weekend hedonists, but if you're local, don't let that put you off. More here.   

The Keeper's Arms, Trotton (pub)

5 miles or so east of Petersfield. What a great establishment this is. The entertaining but migraine-threatening interior of former days has been stripped back and toned down to a cool, light space while retaining the intriguing nooks and crannies which make it a great pub to visit with any number of people. A real 'destination' pub, with fine rooms and skilful cooking of an extremely high standard available at  lunchtimes and evenings (see the hipster's restaurant review) and some intriguing beers. Excellent wine list too. Get there: perched above God's own highway (southern region), the A272, half way between Rogate and Midhurst. 01730 813724 GMAP

The Duke of Cumberland, Henley

Maybe eight miles east of Petersfield. Exquisite, creeper and wisteria-clad small country inn, well off the beaten track (aka the A286), perched on Verdley Hill. Tiny, dolls-house bar and dining area (book if you want to be sure of a table) contrasts with big rolling wooded garden, dotted with tables and chairs, bisected by streams and ponds full of fat brown trout which regularly make the short hop to the pub kitchen.  Lovely views north towards Haslemere and the Black Down. Good beers from the barrel and excellent, if slightly pricey, food from a small menu. Good looking roasts and game. Get there: Travel north from Midhurst towards Haslemere, look for the turnings to Henley as you approach Fernhurst. If you pass the Kings Arms (which used to be a great pub but, alas, no more), you've gone too far. The pub is on a steep single track road - look out for potholes. 01428 652280 GMAP

The Black Boy, Winchester

17 miles west of Petersfield. OK, it's a long way off for a pint, but if you ever plan to motor west, this is one of the greatest city pubs you'll ever visit. An old curiosity shop of a pub, featuring a seemingly endless series of rooms, crammed with a variety of furnishings, stuffed animals and entertainments of all kinds. Grub is of the soup and sandwich variety, but fresh and very good, excellent selection of beers, friendly, warm and cosy in winter, fine big garden for the summer. Music on Mondays, 'Black Rat' restaurant across the street (owned by the pub) also looks worthwhile... Pleasingly removed from Winchester's well-beaten tourist trail. Worth the trip, certainly worth dropping in if you're passing. 1 Wharf Hill, Winchester, SO23 9NQ Tel: 01962 861754. Park in the public car park across Chesil Street.  GMAP.

The Shoe Inn, Exton

7 miles west of Petersfield. Very friendly traditional village pub in the Meon Valley whose slightly tired decor is compensated by some excellent grub. Lots of fish and seafood, cooked with a sure hand and offering some some great flavours. Wadworth's beers, good short wine list, terrace in front of the pub looks towards a riverside garden. Busy even on a Tuesday night, worth booking. Shoe Lane, Exton 01489 877526. GMAP

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Pub With No Name (The White Horse)

Priors Dean, 4 miles from Petersfield. Big old pub in remote, appealingly bleak spot high up on the downs. Its popular name derives from the empty pub sign which swings grimly out on the main road, a final challenge for anyone trying to find the place. Two bars and restaurant, lots of room outside and in. The two snug bars inside, candle-lit and cluttered with old furniture have a dark, Jacobean feel which, in winter, warmed by open fires, is wonderfully welcoming. Can seem a bit less so on a summer's day, but a big sprawling garden makes up for that. A brighter and lighter restaurant has been extended at the back. Food is traditional pub stuff but skilfully handled with excellent ingredients (Cornish scallops, Scottish mussels or O'Hagan's celebrated sausages) contributing to a good repertoire of standards backed by regularly changing specials. Excellent range of ales including its own No-Name bitter. Has plenty of fans, including the poet Edward Thomas who was a regular and made it the subject of 'Up in the Wind', and celebrated chef and food enthusiast Antonio Carluccio. Excellent beerfest every summer with food, bands and camping available for weekend revellers, and other events through the year. In short: highly recommended. Get there: west from Petersfield towards Steep, follow the road as it winds up Stoner Hill. A mile or so past the Trooper Inn, look for the empty sign at the roadside and turn right. The pub is up a track on the right after 100 yards or so. Priors Dean, Hampshire, 01420 588387 GMAP

Mr Whiteheads Cider Company

Real traditional cider, scrumpy and perry without additives or preservatives. Range of strengths and flavours including interesting single varietal ciders. Sold in many local shops, pubs and markets but also direct from source, here, in bottles, barrels or polypins. Also local bottled beers and English wines. The Old Granary, Hartley Park Farm, Selborne, Alton, Hampshire GU34 3HS. Half way between Selborne and Alton. 01420 511733. 

Grange Farm

Lovely farm shop and butcher at Empshott, signposted about four miles west of Liss on the Selborne road (B3006).  Free range pork, lamb, chicken, geese, Aberdeen Angus beef, own products and local bread, fruit, vegetables and deli. Great at Christmas, particularly if goose is on the menu, though excellent Norfolk black and bronze turkey also supplied. Open Tuesday - Saturday 8.30am to 5.30pm. 01420 538104. More here.  

Durleighmarsh Farm

Fruit, veg, meat and more. Fantastic range of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers (including an amazing 30 acres of asparagus) to pick yourself or buy in the shop. Environmentally sympathetic farming methods. Good range of Christmas stuff (not before December 1, which merits praise in itself) including poultry, holly, mistletoe... really lovely place. Find it between Petersfield and Rogate on the A272. 01730 821626.

Nick's - I can't believe it's not organic...

The former OrgaNick, at Wyld's Farm, Liss. 
Nick and Sophia Rook-Blackstone's farm out west of Liss supplies great fruit, vegetables and other produce through their farm shop (9-5, Thursday and Friday), the Petersfield Saturday Market (occasionally), the monthly Farmer's Market in Petersfield square, Jade News in Liss and their home-delivery organic box scheme. Used to be organic and indeed OrgaNick, before Nick took the wise choice between organic purity and sanity. Consider it 'nearly-organic' and, either way, damned good. Warren Road, Liss. 01730 891490 or

The General Wine Company, Liphook and Midhurst

Fantastic wine merchant with shops in Liphook and Midhurst. The Hipster rarely buys wine elsewhere. His online wine club subscriptions have withered and died and Waitrose and Sainsbury's now exist for emergency purchases only. 

Alan Snudden's enterprise offers a fantastic selection of Old and New World wines right across the price spectrum, sold with real expertise (ask him about Corsican wines if you get the chance). The shops aren't fussy or fancy, but always classy, the advice is equally friendly and informative whether you spend £4.99 or £499 on a bottle.  Good range of spirits, cigars and beers too. The GWC Shipper's Club offers worthwhile perks and discounts and information about tastings and dinners and the annual Wine Fair in Liphook's Millenium Hall is absolutely not to be missed. 

The General Wine Company is a real treasure, and there can be no excuse for buying at supermarkets or online - GWC offers a better range, keen keen prices and a stack more engagement and enjoyment.  Main branch: 25, Station Road, Liphook. 01428 727744. Junior branch, High Street, Midhurst (just as good but half the size and stock).

Petersfield Farmer's Market

Hampshire Farmers' Markets. The flagship outlet for Hampshire farmers and independent producers, with all produce strictly locally produced. First Sunday in every month in the square in Petersfield, 2nd and 4th Sundays in Winchester, third Saturday in every month Alton. Meat, vegetables, preserves, breads, honey, specialists in tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms, honeys... Too many to individually list, but always on WikiPetersfield's shopping list is 

  • Ashmore Farmhouse Cheese
  • Bookham Cheese and Pasta (fantastic British parmesan)
  • Bowtell's Farm Shop, meat and game
  • Dorset Blueberry Company
  • Secrett's, amazing vegetables and salad leaves from Milford
  • Isle of Wight Tomatoes... and chillies, and aubergines, and tomato products...
  • Long Crichel Bakery, traditional breads and cakes...
  • Itchen Valley Brewery
  • Loosehanger Farmhouse Cheeses, medal-winning Ayrshire cowsmilk and goatsmilk cheeses... their garlic and nettle is seriously addictive...
  • Peter Mushrooms, fresh mushrooms + soups, pates, ketchups, and a hot mushroom roll as an alternative to the hog roast for all you vegetarians...
  • Pollen Organics, sauces, pestos, mayonnaises
  • The Garlic Farm, brilliant range of fresh, smoked and preserved garlic and garlic products.

This barely scratches the surface. Every month there are new stalls, all the Petersfield local farm shops and many from further afield are represented, so this is really unmissable for anyone interested in fresh, local and genuinely interesting food. ... at least one or two roasts are usually ongoing, so skip breakfast and get here early.... more about the farmers' markets here: and at 01420 588671. 

Petersfield Market

So yes, in amongst all the fancy dan foodstuffs and so forth, it's shaming really that Wikipetersfield been so lax in drawing your attention to the town's twice-weekly market. Regular favourites include Nick's almost-organic stall for your almost-organic fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, eggs and honey, Bryants for as good a range of quality fruit and vegetables as you'll find in any of the supermarkets and, uh, those South African folks who set up camp every Saturday and cook up something delicious for you to try (and buy) - big spicy sausages, marinaded meats, biltong and a selection of other South African produce for all the local Home from the Hill types. Other stuff more hit and miss and irregular, but Jones the butcher draws a loyal queue, a fish stall is occasionally there and there's an ever changing display of clothes, jewellery, ethnic stuff... we recommend it as a regular port of call before you visit the supermarket. Here's the thing though; wouldn't it be great if the market offered really good meat, bread, cheese and delicatessen every Saturday? So that your local market provided a genuine alternative to the supermarkets for virtually all of your fresh produce? And wouldn't this be a great thing for a local council to focus on - providing and encouraging a platform for local farmers and producers and really working to keep the heart in Petersfield? Why should a really great local market be just a monthly thing? It's just a thought....

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Rowan's Delicatessan

Really top quality fine foods emporium with a real emphasis on great local produce. Peter and Lucy Rowan's place goes from strength to strength with a broad range of cheeses, hams, pates, delicatessen and those hard-to-find ingredients. A nice bright cafe offering good tea, coffee and the best of their excellent stock of sweet and savoury stuff has been a feature for a while - that's about to be overtaken by a new and extended dining area. Basically, everything you would look for in a good deli and a few surprises too. Particularly good range of locally produced bread, honey and champion pies and pastries. Excellent choice of regularly rotating cheeses (as we write this, Rowan's is one of only two outlets nationally for Isle of Wight Blue, England's Champion Cheese 2007). Nice selection of wines and cigars and Hampshire beers and ciders. Now stocking over twenty loose teas and coffee beans (ground to order). Knowledgeable and friendly staff. Great place at Christmas for stocking fillers, sweetmeats and fancy stuff. And if all of this isn't enough, ask nicely and Peter Rowan will knock you up a lovely hand-built guitar. 4, Lavant Street, Petersfield 01730 262600.


Putting a bit of much-needed culture into Petersfield's cafe scene, Russell and Briony's place is Petersfield's coolest bistro by a country mile. Serving spectacularly good coffee (try the rare 'flat white') and cake all day long but increasingly a serious restaurant too, offering great bistro cooking at lunchtime and on Thursday - Saturday evenings too. Short but personally sourced wine list, mostly from the Loire region, is worth checking out. Music, with a strong leaning towards gypsy swing and jazz (there's a clue in the name) plays a large part in the operation, with lunchtime, afternoon and occasional evening shows by some fine musicians of the acoustic persuasion - look out for the Hanging Tree Band in particular, as well as Russell himself - often combined with something worthwhile in the food line. Proper art also features regularly on Djangos' walls. Now selling excellent coffee beans and freshly ground coffee for your machine from a list of boutique blends in a shop upstairs - look out for Djangos' Bireli brand. Find Djangos in Bakery Lane - the alley between Waitrose car park and Chapel Street. 01730 26761

don't call it bittersweet..... 'Once'

In case you hadn't heard, `Once' is a musical, but don't let that put you off - go buy it or rent it right now. I recommend buying, not least because DVDs are so cheap now - Amazon will let you have this for under a fiver, which is just silly - that unless a film is brand new, renting is starting to look like pretty poor value.  

Anyway, 'Once' is a musical like you've never seen or heard, whose songs - and in passing, they're great songs - whether busked on the street or being polished up in the recording studio, are perfectly pitched and completely, naturally integrated and in tune with the narrative. It's also a deeply affecting love story of the kind that life is full of but which are so rarely brought to the screen, full of stumbling and uncertainty but utterly believable - about an affair never consummated, whose complications are left tantalisingly unresolved. Despite concerning itself with rough-edged Dublin street musicians, it's a proper romance, in an almost courtly sense. 

I guess what makes it so great is its humanity. Looks like it was shot using whatever the modern equivalent of Super 8 is, so it has a filmic quality but in a very rough way - somewhat reminiscent of the look and feel of those Before Sunrise/ Before Sunset movies, but with none of their preciousness. Full of rough edges and what look like first takes - probably from necessity, but creating a warm, organic quality and a genuine sense of reality. The central performances are beautifully played, restrained but at the same time full of passion and real feeling, and the supporting players are right on the money too. Dublin does its thing pretty well, of course, reprising its performance from The Commitments (where we first saw Glen Hansard, looking a lot more ginger as the guitarist, Outspan)... 

Look, there's no point going on about this unpolished gem. Buy, rent or even better, if you get the chance, go see it. Then get the CD - the music is that good. 

A fine romance... 'Broken English'

This was a surprise. Low key, small scale and all the better for it, 'Broken English' explores New York thirty-something Nora's nervy, anxious search for the love which she senses is passing her by. Parker Posey, who I don't really recognise from anything else, is great in the role, her confidence, mood, even her appearance visibly changing from scene to scene as the movie progresses. Melvin Poupaud, as Julien, the Frenchman she runs into, is a perfect foil, sensitive to her mood swings and anxieties while, in demanding the big decision on which the film pivots, creating some fresh ones of his own. 

The action swings between New York and Paris and for once Paris is played by itself, not by the usual stock footage of the Eiffel Tower seen through a hotel window. A small, resonant, genuinely romantic and very human film - I liked it a lot.

Unfortunately, I have to add that it won't be out in the UK till I don't know when - I caught it on a transatlantic Air France flight where the choice of English language movies was limited (or I might not have bothered). I should also add that I nearly always enjoy movies hugely on planes, and am often moved to tears by the sappiest things, which I put down to either the pressurized cabin or the large quantities of booze I've usually managed to put away by the time the film starts, so maybe I'm not the best judge.  But if you need something similar to keep you going, I'd recommend 'Once' very strongly. 

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The George

The Square, Petersfield. Really rather snazzy - more a bistro/ bar than a pub, but let's not be picky. A handful of excellent ales (Deuchars, Hopback and Sharp's Doombar when we were in), a terrific range of wines by the glass or bottle (from our friends at the General Wine Company, we're guessing) and a nice selection of brasserie-style food. 'Burger Kitchen' looks good too, if you have a substantial gap to fill, as does Sunday brunch. Acoustic music on Friday evenings, something a lot louder on Sundays... really is a very good place. Sofas and easy chairs around the bar at the front, tables and chairs at the back and an outdoor courtyard too, featuring the celebrated Mexican Hut: tequila, Corona, Desperados and ice cream (shot and a beer, just four of your Earth pounds) . Best place for a drink and a bite in the centre of Petersfield, certainly, and really making an effort. One to watch. Frankly - we like.  01730 233343 GMAP

The Square Brewery

The Square, Petersfield. Honest town centre pub. Gales beers, decent range of pub food, arguably the best old-school breakfast in town. Increasingly the place to go for live music in Petersfield. 01730-264291. GMAP

The Good Intent

College Street, Petersfield. Really very decent old school boozer. Gales beers, old-style but good-looking pub grub (O'Hagan's excellent sausages feature strongly). Old-fashioned atmosphere (in a good way), no smoking restaurant area. Provides a platform every Sunday night for most of the local bands, jazz on Thursdays. Recommended. 01730 263838 GMAP

The Harrow

Two miles from the centre of Petersfield and unchanged since the Liberals last tasted power. Beer strictly from the barrel, pea and ham soup that your spoon will stand up in and ye treacle tarte of Olde Englande. Who could wish for more? In its own way, perfect. Downside: tiny, welcome can be a bit chilly, service can be flaky, toilets would also have been recognised by Lloyd George. This is nitpicking however; in truth it's a great characterful pub. Get there: signposts for Steep off the old A3 into east Petersfield. 01730 262685. GMAP

The Thomas Lord (restaurant)

Not many establishments justify a full pub and restaurant writeup- they're generally pretty clearly one or the other - but the Thomas Lord is a justified exception to that rule. As we've found before, it's a great place to drop in for a pint, but come back for a meal and be as amazed as we were at the quality of the food. Short menu which changes every day and quietly undersells what will turn up on the plate (in clear contravention of standard restaurant practise). Highly skilled but not madly ostentatious cooking (you'll look in vain for timbales of anything here), drawing on local suppliers and traditional English menus (in the best way), so anticipate game, fish, organic vegetables and old-fashioned puddings all prepared with great attention to flavour, beautifully presented and balanced in a way that makes three courses entirely feasible. Excellent wine list with many available by small or large glass, half or full bottle. Attentive service, friendly without being overpowering, lovely ambience with a mix of rooms, tables and lighting which gives the place a real clubby atmosphere and can comfortably accommodate anything from dinner à deux to large parties. Proper linen and heavy cutlery is a nice touch. Real value too - even the bill came as a pleasant surprise, and how often do we find ourselves saying that? The Thomas Lord taxes our limited powers of description, but you should have gathered by now that we sure did like what we found here. In fact, it shames us to say it, but we struggled to find anything to criticise. Get there: West Meon is on the A32 Alton - Fareham road, a mile or two south of the intersection with the A272. The pub is signposted off the main road just inside the village. 01730 829244. GMAP Also see our pub review here. Picture courtesy of Herry Lawford, by the way, who also contributed the following sage remarks: 
"The Thomas Lord is everything one could wish for in a country pub - except perhaps for the lack of a view. But once inside, it exudes the warmth and charm of its cheerful owners and the unmistakable smell of a good table. Exceptional cooking, using local produce and supporting local farmers, butchers and fishermen, results in dishes such as mouthwatering pork chops, succulent venison and a perfect vegetable 'shepherds' pie. A short but interesting wine list includes a very tasty and reasonably priced Chilean Carmenere red - and the beer is of course excellent. Add two blazing fires and a semi-private back room lined with books (that you can buy for 50p each), and aged wood everywhere, and you will be tempted to stay all day. About £25 a head for two courses and a lot of wine! "

The Thomas Lord (pub)

West Meon, 6 miles from Petersfield. Draws on its association with the eponymous founder of Lord's cricket ground and former resident of West Meon with plenty of cricketing memorabilia, but not overpoweringly so. More to the point, it's an absolutely tremendous country inn: roomy, comfortable, with a nicely weathered assortment of furniture, including big leather armchairs, many pulled up to fires which blaze through the winter. Friendly, chatty and, it would appear, a matey dog at every table, which may not be standard but was a nice touch on the cold day that we were there. Excellent range of beers, tempting short menu, drawing on local suppliers - when we dropped by for lunch, smoked haddock stovie topped with a fried egg and a dash of chilli hit the spot very nicely. Good for lunch, great for dinner, or just a fine place to idle away a few hours with beer and the papers. If it was closer, could be our new favourite pub, as it is, it certainly justifies a trip. Get there: turn south from the A272 towards Fareham on the A32. The pub is signposted to the left just inside West Meon village. 01730 829244. GMAP. See also the WikiPetersfield restaurant review here

The Hawkley Inn

Five miles from Petersfield, The Hawkley is everything you want a country pub to be; walking boots, wellies, horses, bikes, great beer and cider, some seriously good food, fire, moose, big garden. All this and power showers too, in some very smart accommodation introduced at the end of 2006 and very popular with DFLs and parties attending weddings in Hawkley's rather spiffy church.  Seven beers on tap that change constantly, and decent wine too. Always plenty of local ales, (I've personally never had a bad one and would walk several country miles any day for the fff Moondance). Music at weekends, good beer fest every year. Perfect pub in any weather, crowded at weekends, however, when food service can be on the slow side - get there early or late if waiting a while bothers you - and the number of untethered children may occasionally test your tolerance (though this seems less of an issue since new space opened up in the pub at the end of 2006). A great place, even better than I'm making it sound; there have been a few changes of personnel there recently, including the much regretted departure of Jeannie, the last link with the old Hawkley days, but it seems to be holding its own and even improving in some departments - food in particular is much improved since a new chef took over a couple of months back. Get there: Follow signs for Hawkley from West Liss (Hawkley Road runs up the side of the Spread Eagle).  Pococks Lane, Hawkley. Liss 01730 827205, more at

Gods and Monsters... 'Heaven and Hell' (Don Felder, The Eagles)

Don Felder was the guitarist brought in by the Eagles after their 'Desperado' album to add a bit of rock bite (and, it was hoped, some better sales figures) to the country soft-rock which had at that time failed to make a major impact on the US public. The move was largely successful - the big hits started to roll in, The Eagles barely left the US charts for the next twenty five years, and as for the money, the only trouble was finding time to spend it. Don's contribution was undoubtedly critical - his was the final ingredient in what would be (with Fleetwood Mac) the defining sound of US FM radio, although his original contributions were few, his music and arrangement for 'Hotel California' were the cherry on the icing on an already very large and rich cake.

So why, you might ask, the long face?

Well let me leave Don to one side for a moment and, digressive though it may seem, just say that this book certainly changed my opinion of the Beach Boys' Mike Love. I'd always seen Mike as the most unpleasant and charmless man in rock's glorious history, but not any more, at least not while Glenn Frey lives and breathes. I mention this because, though Frey's main purpose in the band was, as far as I can see (at least after the creative juices ran dry in 1973 or thereabouts) to make Don Henley seem like a nice guy, it's his malign personality rather than Felder's that dominates this book, the poison that gives the the Eagles' superficially carefree songs their distinctive aftertaste.

Back to Felder though, and as for 'Heaven and Hell', I have to say that by far the most readable sections are those which describe the hapless Felder being comprehensively beasted by the tirelessly manipulative Frey and Henley, ably assisted by manager Irving Azoff. If misery-memoirs and rock & roll are your thing, you're going to love this; Felder's long-suffering wife Susan got it right when, after he'd finally been booted out, she observed that his departure from 'that abusive relationship' was long overdue, but he appears to have been the last one to recognise it and, right to the end, you sense that if Frey or Henley shouted 'jump', his only question would be 'how high?'.

The greater part of the book, unfortunately, is a v-e-r-y pedestrian account of a decent, workmanlike, not especially bright guitarist who got incredibly lucky, who had it all but always wanted more - more recognition, more love, even more money. Unfairly treated? Well, probably, but in truth he arrived late, contributed comparatively little that was memorable (other than the music for Hotel California), had some pretty good times along the way and walked away with both nose and fabulous bank balance intact, so it's hard to muster too much sympathy. The dominant note, particularly in the second half of the book, is of maudlin self-pity (never attractive) but in truth, the devils had the best tunes and, as demonstrated by the consistently admirable Bernie Leadon (in many ways the conscience of the book), the option to depart with dignity was always there...

Fundamentally a journeyman book about a journeyman player and I'd say for fans only; the less committed will find a better perspective in Barney Hoskyns' excellent 'Hotel California'.