Let’s Park ‘er Here
Let’s Park ‘er Here
25 years ago on 13th April 1993, I joined Walmsleys Insurance Brokers on the same day as my future business partner, Michael (Mick) Whittle. In 2004, we bought the business, rebranded it as WCIB and it’s been an eventful rollercoaster of a journey ever since. Yesterday, on Friday, 13th April 2018, we handed on the business baton to two of our young Directors who will take the business forward in their own style.
To celebrate the sale of the business, Alison and I booked a table at The Parkers Arms at Newton-in-Bowland, one of our favourite eating places. To quote their website they’re “a contemporary country inn. The perfect destination to EAT DRINK and SLEEP in the heart of the Trough of Bowland. An enjoyable experience for the whole family, even your very well behaved dog is welcome. The perfect pause for ramblers, cyclists and visitors. Whether its just for a pint of good local ale, a coffee break, a small bite to eat, a hearty celebratory meal or large function, we have it all. Casual relaxed yet elegant there is something for everyone at Parkersarms.” To be honest, that description doesn’t really do the place justice.
The Ribble valley is a haven for food lovers as you’ll see from this Guardian article. The Parkers Arms have won countless awards for their food and this year rose to No. 8 in the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastro Pubs, with the Judges saying:
‘Last year’s highest climber, shooting up 35 places from 48th to 13th. This year the gastropub has risen a further five places. It’s testament to chef patron Stosie Madi and her business partner Kathy Smith’s dedication to making their pub one of the best, with gourmands travelling on occasion the length and breadth of the country.
‘Menu highlights include pheasant escalope in sourdough and Kirkham’s crumb with cranberry relish; Newton venison with local bramble and unpasteurised cheese; and Lancashire hogget hotpot with damson pickled red cabbage. There are also a variety of pub classics available including top quality steaks; fish and chips; and of course, Stosie’s famous pies.’
They also very kindly agreed that we could park overnight in their car park, so what’s not to like?
Saturday started grey but by mid-afternoon the sun made an appearance and we were treated to a beautiful spring evening. Before we set off, Alison updated this year’s dashboard theme – it’s always good to get your ducks in a row.
After filling up with fuel we drove the hour’s journey to Newton-in-Bowland, via the lovely market town of Clitheroe.
Front of house is led by A J, a great guy who greeted us warmly and soon had us sat at our table with a Batch Gin from Burnley in hand.
It was busy at the bar, even though it was early evening. There’s a great laid back vibe to this place and everyone had smiles on their faces. Dogs are welcome and there were several in the bar, but we left Boris in the van. I’d given him a walk when we arrived and he’s extremely intolerant of other dogs at the moment, especially where there’s food around.
The Spring Saturday menu is, thankfully, not too large so making our choices was pretty straightforward.
I chose the Portugese Wild Garlic Custard Tart to start, with the Mutton Pie for main and a Rhubarb, Almond Tart to follow. Alison went fishy with the Giant Red Prawns, Crumbed Cod Fillet and Cheese for Dessert.
As you can see, I forgot to take a photo of my Tart – it was gone too quickly…
We managed a couple of bottles of wine between us, before taking Boz out for another walk around the village and then back to Absinthe to settle down for the night. It was our first sleep in the van of 2018 and it was good to be back in her, although we maybe should have used the chocks to stop me slipping out of bed all night.
Sunday morning was grey with none of Saturday’s sunshine when I took Boris out for his pre-breakfast walk. Newton is a beautiful village with some lovely properties, which attract Ribble Valley prices. The cheapest we could find was around £775,000 – out of our league I’m afraid, but just a three bed semi for some of you in the South East.
I popped in to say goodbye to the staff before we drove home – we’ll be back soon with some friends and we can’t wait.
Things We’ve Learned
A one night stand can be lots of fun
You can’t beat a good pie
It’s always good to get the first stopover of a new year
Some pubs have ‘it’ – some don’t. The Parker’s Arms definitely has it
There’s a full set of photos here: FLICKR