I know we keep going on about keeping things local (and we mean it, honestly) and to us, you can’t get much more local than Hoole.
As a district, Hoole is beautiful. It has several parks, quirky residential areas and a high street that rivals those in towns – fresh produce, butcheries, fish mongerers, retail stores and most important of all, three boozers, all who serve real ale from handpulls.
The oldest and probably the best known is the traditional pub near the post office; The Royal Oak. It’s almost an institution amongst the residents – the pub has stood on Faulkner Street as long as anyone can remember. It has a very loyal regular base, but it remains as welcoming to new-comers as it does to those who frequent it more often. The landlady, Angie has an immaculate memory and can recognise you even if you don’t venture there for a while… so you best behave.
One regular you will meet every time you come in, is the pubs very own mascot Reggie. I’m not so much of a dog person that I could tell you what breed this adorable little creature is, but he is always around and usually takes up the best seat in the pub and likes to cuddle next to unsuspecting punters. Reggie is probably the friendliest little tail-wagger I’ve ever met, so even those who aren’t too at ease around dogs need not worry. He is a permanent fixture in the pub but he is nothing if he isn’t sweet.
From the narrow entrance opens what can only be described as three rooms, one to each side of you and then the bar area in the middle. Two of the three rooms house flat screens so you can watch your footy there, but you can still enjoy a quiet pint if you don’t want to get involved with sport. The room without televised entertainment has a billiard table and a real fire place, perfect for those brisk autumn evenings. Or cold summer ones, take your pick.
There’s a surprise at the back as well, as the small pub has an absolutely enormous beer garden, with a roofed area in case of a rainier weather, but also an uncovered tables where you can bask in the sunshine if there is any. You just would not expect a small pub on a high street of a small district to have such a great big beer garden, but we’re not here to argue with facts, we just enjoy them.
The bar is well stocked with Marstons beers, and they occasionally house guest ales from different breweries too. The beers are kept well and the bar staff are very knowledgeable about their produce and always happy to give you a taster if you’re unsure what to quench your thirst with. And as long as you remember to keep an eye on your feet so as to not step on Reggie. That would be unforgivable.
There’s not much to say about the Royal Oak that hasn’t been said before: it’s a traditional boozer with its old grumpy men in the corner but also the newer
generation enjoying a few selected drinks. It’s not just a beer haven, it also offers wine and basic cocktails and the more-often-than-not footy. There is good beer to be had there, that is for sure, and everyone is always welcome to join the ranks of the locals. It stands on a good spot and probably it is the relaxed atmosphere that always keeps inviting newbies to visit the tiny space. Certainly, you should not suffer from personal-space issues if you intend to visit during the weekend; there is not much space to roam around inside and you do get quite cosy with your fellow patrons at the busiest times. But perhaps that is part of the charm of the place.
After much deliberation we have decided to give this pub 3,5 out of five. Tom wanted to give it a four because he loves it there, and I wanted to give it three because whereas I too adore the pub, I don’t enjoy a footy atmosphere enough to go there while it’s on telly. We both love the beer and we both enjoy the atmosphere, and after deliberating for a while we decided to give the good old Royal Oak a well deserved 3.5. Maybe leaning more towards a Four.