I live in the Black Country, the area of the Midlands which was nicknamed thus by Andrew Carnegie, the great American steel tycoon, on a visit to the region and who was astonished that everything was dusted in carbon dust from the thousands of furnaces which were being used to smelt iron-ore, fabricate steel, cast iron, glass, chains and run the engines that powered the mines that extracted the coal to burn in the furnaces.
As the industrial revolution happened here, we have a notable system of canals that criss-cross the area connecting the Midlands to the rest of the country. As a result, one of the major attractions to people coming is to enjoy some time on a canal boat out on the water, working their way along the old routes that took the goods fabricated here to the world. Such people have curiously included Harrison Ford and his wife Calista Flockhart a couple of years ago.
And where there are canals, there will be pubs. And where there is a waterside pub, there should be a barbeque
if the owner has any sense. During the summer the bbq is a substantial part of the business turnover figures for anywhere that has one. One around here is famed for the food that comes off the charcoal grills and on a clear summer evening and during the weekend from lunchtime onwards the grounds are packed.
The interior of the pub has a restaurant area with the expected a la carte menu and specials board, but the bbq
area is separate and exists as a stand alone restaurant offering steaks, burgers, hot dogs and sausages etc which can be cooked with home made marinades or plain. A fryer sits beside the charcoal grills turning out a continuous stream of chips and to the side of that somebody is employed to make salads and dressings. It is a superb operation that must have demanded a deep breath before building the hut in which everything sits and would not have been cheap.
One of the loveliest ways to waste a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon is to sit by the lock with a glass of beer and a barbeque steak and watch the boats rise and fall as people make their way to and from Wolverhampton and Kidderminster as the perfumed smoke from the bbq blows across the garden. You can really see the effect it has on the people on the boats who very often moor up as close as they can and come back along the towpath and indulge themselves.
It's another excellent example of making the best of what there is and more because when the current team took it over it was, unbelievably, a failing business. This may have had a bit to do with the fact that it always closed on a Sunday afternoon which, for a country pub on the road to the local beauty spots and popular walkway was complete lunacy. Many is the time on a sunny afternoon when I worked at the local electricity board office I'd get a phone call around four o'clock and it would normally be somebody suggesting we all go for a drink by the canal. And it's rude to say no. But now it is once again thriving, and giving meat lovers a barbeque treat as well as a super place to stop for a couple of hours.
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