* Prices may differ from that shown
When my husband first bought this book, the 2010 edition, I raised a wifely eye-brow and questioned his motive - well, who wouldn't with the word 'PUB' being the dominant feature of the cover? Obviously wounded by my insinuation, Himself protested that this book would be a boon to our frugal UK excursions (can't afford to go abroad)! And why would that be? You can tell that I wasn't convinced at this point!
Because, Himself hastily pointed out, whilst the cover of the book states that the pubs in the book "are selected for great food, real ale, character and comfort" the inside of the book offers far more, including our key criteria - dog friendly! As such we would be able to find pubs for stopping off on journeys or in the locale of where we might stay ... that will welcome not only us, but our two smelly dogs who are always in tow! Such information is readily found in the 'facilities' information on every pub reviewed in the book, so we would know at a glance if it's an appropriate watering hole for our whole four legged family! This is really where this guide has come into its own for us and as a result we have had several trips that have resulted in some lovely stop-offs which have included ball games and leg-stretches with the dogs and some lovely refreshments, some of which have been of amazing quality for the price - there are some real finds in there! So, if you are also looking for information on dog-friendly stop-offs, this could be an appropriate guide for you too.
There is lots of detail within the book, but as a brief overview, the guide gives the following key information on each pub listed:
* Map Reference
* Establishment Name and Symbols (eg: AA food award symbols, Brewery information, star ratings for accommodation
* Address and postcode information - this has been invaluable: you can set your sat nav accordingly, makes journeys and navigation really easy. However, do be careful if following your sat nav to some of the more rural hostelries - we always use a map in conjunction with this because the sat nav has gone a little awry occasionally, which is I think part of the challenge of using a sat nav in a rural area!
* Directions - useful given my comments above and unreliability of sat navs sometimes!
* Description - of the pub and of food on offer
* Opening times - don't forget to use this information when planning your journeys, we've gone wrong by not paying attention to this before!
* Bar meals
* Brewery and Company - this was later revealed by Himself to be of almost a priority search criteria as being dog-friendly!
* Facilities - this is where you'll find out about gardens, children's menu, dog-friendliness, whether there's a children's play area, parking facilities etc
* Notes - for example if a particular pub does not take cards!
* AA stars / designators
As book, this a guide this is very comprehensive and it has never steered us wrong. Although our search priority centres around the dogs (and real ale, as was later revealed!), if you have small children and facilities for them are a priority (particularly on long journeys or to help decide on where to go for your holidays) then this book is a useful mine of information. Alternatively, if your choice is led more by gourmet menus and the wish to avoid finding yourself eating it in a child-friendly, dog-friendly garden, then you could also find this book very useful.
We received this latest edition for Christmas, after sharing our enthusiasm for our 2010 copy with the family. However, I'd say that there's not an awful lot of difference in content, so I don't think you'd have to buy one yearly if you take regular UK jaunts! That said, the pub industry is sadly suffering from the economic crisis as much as the rest of us, so if you do end up planning your journey from an older copy, I'd ring when you plan your journey, just to ensure that the pub is still up and running before you come off the motorway to find it!
So, a recommended book, particularly if you have a specific criteria in mind when planning your journey stop-offs or pub visits. What's contained in the book is not restricted to the criteria listed on the front and there should be information that helps with journey planning to meet a range of family or foodie needs!
* This review is also being submitted to Ciao under my name there - PlaysNicelyWithOthers!