Ah... Annie's Pub...
I don't remember what Annie's pub was actually called (turns out it was "The Coach and Horses"), nor do I remember where it was (someplace in Wales), but we'd been riding/repairing/swearing in the rain and had managed to cross the Severn Bridge (one of our members pumped his fist at each and every American flag waving from it [it was only halfway across that it occurred to him that they were there in honor of the Ryder Cup]) and were beginning to realize that National Cycle Route 4 is not built for speed; we were also wet and cold. In a rare moment of first day agreement, we all decided to look for a lunch pub in the village we were approaching.
And it had one!
Dr. Matt stepped on a dog's tail while Jon and Doug parked the bikes under a convenient gutter that would overflow in a matter of minutes. The woman behind the bar was friendly and started making the coffees more or less before we'd even gotten in the door. Pies and sandwiches and chips and (for some) pints of cola were ordered. We eschewed the dining area in favor of the drinking side of the back room, thinking that our stink/wet/filth might be better off sequestered. The observant among us noticed the posters advertising the upcoming Halloween party, which offered punters the chance to "come and party with Annie and her crew." They also noticed the notices announcing Annie's retirement from landladying the pub, due to the takeover by a new owners (or, more likely, "ownership group," but I suspect Annie is too tactful to call this particular spade a spade); it was a touching notice that read, even to the passing cyclist, as genuine and heartfelt; I for one missed Annie just reading it. During our lunch, a manager who clearly represented the new owners came in for a meeting with Annie. I did not like her pink jacket. I did not like that she turned down the friendly offer of a tea or coffee from the barmaid; I especially did not like that her mere presence made the barmaid a bit nervous. I have a bad feeling about the direction that VERY NICE pub, run by VERY NICE PEOPLE will be taking in the not-too-distant-future.
It wasn't raining quite as hard when we left, but my God, the two guys who'd had pints of cola drove me crazy for the next hour with their hyperactiveovercaffeinated gibberish.
Next installment: our red-headed stepchild.