FABULOUS Freddie got an immediate hug from the bubbly bar lady.

When I mentioned it I was promised exactly the same lovely welcome the next time I visit the Sussex Arms – this is one Pub Spy will definitely revisit.

To be fair, even before the bar lady appeared on the scene the friendly bearded barman had already won me over by serving up a great pint of local brew, 1794 Hooker’s Best Bitter.

I was impressed from the outset by this one, it even looks smart and welcoming from the outside.

It’s a Greene King pub which does everything really well and is clearly proud of its success – I’m sure it doesn’t need good publicity but it certainly deserves it.

Bright and colourful all round, you get jazzy wallpaper and an equally lively carpet, right alongside some great black and while tiles.

The music playing in the background was set at the perfect level for lunch and suited the age of the clientele to a T.

When I arrived there were just a select few dotted around but within 20 minutes another two dozen people had joined us to sample the delights.

I ordered a tuna melt, which was perhaps a little pricy, but it came with a great salad, arrived promptly and was tasty enough.

The bun looked like one of those you’d get in Subway.

It’s obviously a pub looking to drag in Six Nations’ fans and proudly boasts a big new screen and projector that’s been installed specially – and just in case you still don’t notice they have covered the bar in flags.

Other signs promoted two glasses of prosecco for £6, tenper cent off all ales for Camra members and a charity comedy night on February 28 at 7.30pm (might be a laugh).

The average age is north of the half century mark so I wasn’t altogether surprised to see the TV was showing Bargain Hunt, though mercifully it was muted.

It was at this point suave, silver-haired Freddie entered to one of the warmest welcomes you could possibly imagine.

I think he must have arrived before the two ladies and gentleman who later joined him just to get his regular hug.

The chef, complete with a black cap worn at a jaunty angle, then wandered into the bar but didn’t hang around long enough for me to ask where he gets his rolls – by now the bar was bustling and he clearly had orders stacking up.

I concentrated on the second half of my bitter and decided this really was a truly, tasty and refreshing pint and, at just 3.9 per cent, perfect for a lunchtime tipple as it’s not overpowering.

My new bearded friend at the bar then supplied me with some interesting local information – apparently Hooker beer was named after a particular lady of the night known to visit the hotel that previously occupied the site.

The only disconcerting element of my visit occurred when I visited the gents. One urinal was clearly marked “out of order”.

Fair enough, it happens.

But when they both automatically flushed I was nearly washed back out of the door.

Still, I soon forgot my soggy socks when I walked back through the bar and was again reminded I had a hug on the tab for my next visit.

So, convinced I would return, I left a couple of my new calling cards in the bar and headed home.

  • Would you like to share your thoughts on a local pub? I’ll happily publish the best. You can email me at: pubspy@theargus.co.uk


Decor: ★★★★★ (out of five) 
Really smart, without being over the top

Drink: ★★★★
Stacks of choice, loved the Hooker

Price: ★★★
£3.85 for the pint, tuna melt £5.79

Atmosphere: ★★★
Good for a lunchtime

Staff: ★★★★ 
If I get that hug you’ll get that fifth star

Food: ★★★
Subway-type bun with fresh, well chopped salad