The sun was shining and all was well in the world as I approached The Basketmakers Arms.

It looked at first as if seating inside was at a premium as there were stacks of people sprawled across the pavement, pints in hand.

However, while busy enough inside, there were seats available so I assume these great unwashed were simply enjoying the last rays of evening sun.

Inside, the pub gave off an entirely different feel – on the one side there was a table with a great little card school going on. They seemed to be playing a variation on whist, with the results carefully recorded in a little notebook. The table seemed to be run by a father-like figure who then took it upon himself to feed the “children” he was playing with – cheesy chips and garlic being the order of the day.

On the other side were people who’d clearly come straight from the course and even left a race card for me to peruse – I’ll let you have this week’s winners in next week’s column.

Striding up to the warmly inviting bar I stuck with the summer theme and opted for a gorgeous pint of Butcombe Gold at 4.4 per cent which set me back £4.30. It was a totally inoffensive pint, among many different delights on offer in this very well-stocked bar.

With beer in hand I moved on to the food menu but even as the words: “I’ll have the mussels please” left my lips I was informed there were now off as the last portion had been sold.

Still feeling fishy I opted instead for the Devon dressed crab with mixed leaf lemon mayo for a tenner which was delightful.

Having sorted the important business I took stock of my surrounding – there’s history everywhere you look.

The whole place is unspoilt and superbly well preserved. One fantastic quirky touch is the decision to nail a whole host of different shaped tins to just about every wall surface in the place. Punters are then encouraged to leave little messages inside these tins for future drinkers to discover.

The messages range from downright surreal to particularly worrying and the frankly ludicrous – but they all make for an interesting experience and are a good way to pass the time.

The barmaid who served me was very friendly and had a great tattoo on one leg – though I couldn’t quite make up my mind whether the artwork depicted arrows or darts.

Further along the bar there was a regular with a wonderfully mild-mannered hound who lay dutifully under her stool the whole time I was there.

Funnily enough it reminded me of the only story I’d seen on social media about The Basketmakers in which one unfortunate visitor claims he was bitten by an unruly dog and nobody in the pub seemed care one iota.

I obviously can’t comment on this but during my visit I only saw two dogs – one was the aforementioned perfectly behaved hound and the other was a big alsatian you had to walk around in the doorway and, if you had any sense, addressed as sir.

If this black and white mountain bit you, believe me you wouldn’t have fingers left to type it out – again, he seemed a very placid and pleasant beast.

In keeping with the great age of the pub the ceilings are low and add to the atmosphere which was buzzy and infectious.

The fellow next to me went for a British beef burger in a glazed bun and at £7 this looked excellent value. I wondered whether I’d chosen wisely, but believe me that crab was very tasty.

There is oodles of charm without anything being twee – it’s exactly what a pub should be.

Unfortunately it sticks to doing what it does well and doesn’t do the frills so when I asked for a pudding menu I was politely informed they don’t do them.

So, rather than staying for another pint I visited the facilities – and if you do visit this one look out for the graffiti in the grout. Some of it is positively witty.


Decor: ★★★★☆

Quirky and full of history, check out the tins

Drink: ★★★☆☆

Lots of choice, my pint was OK

Price: ★★★☆☆

Pint was perhaps a little steep but the food is great value

Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆

Better inside than out

Staff: ★★★★☆

Helpful and attentive

Food: ★★★★☆

The crab was succulent and the salad a perfect accompaniment