Do you expect to see a Spanish lady in Saltdean? I certainly didn’t.

I could say you’d be unlikely to meet a lady walking into this particular pub in Saltdean but that would be unfair and unkind, so I won’t.

What I did find when I walked in mid-afternoon on a Monday was a lively, boisterous, very upbeat atmosphere.

The first thing I noticed was that Christmas, along with a bunch of noisy construction workers, had come early in The Spanish Lady.

I know the editor has a bee in his bonnet about early celebrations so seeing a fully decorated tree with wrapped presents and all the trimmings instantly rang an alarm bell.

The barmaid says she’s taken a fair bit of stick for putting her decorations up on September 1.

My host was the utterly delightful Emily, who has been working at The Spanish Lady for three years, but has spent her entire 21 years in Saltdean.

So perhaps it’s not surprising she not only knows the name of every single person in the pub and what they like to drink, she also knows what their second choice would be.

She’s great at what she does but admitted she’d rather be a paramedic or a journalist.

The reason the pub was bunged at this time on a Monday was because it was raining.

Construction can’t take place in the rain so all the workers have to go to the pub.

I looked out of the window and the sun was blazing but apparently there had been a sharp shower at some point this morning.

Clearly enough to signal game on for four hours drinking – who can blame them?

Personally I was pleased as they livened up my visit no end.

Apart from them and Emily the other folk in the pub hardly seemed able to move.

I started with a Kronenbourg but even before I’d got my hands on it a guy called Owen came in, bought a drink and, in the time it took me to pay for mine, had downed it in one.

By the time I’d got my pint to my lips he’d left again.

Marvelling at this feat I enquired whether all his visits were this brief.

Emily said no, earlier the same day he’d hung around much longer.

On the bar was an open notebook with a whole list of things to do but as I explained I didn’t know how to clean a coffee machine I was let off and the book was pushed aside to give me the most comfortable stool in the house.

The pub looks like something from the set of Eldorado and I wasn’t surprised to hear the most requested meal is tapas – pity they’re not on the menu.

But, apparently it’s been The Spanish Lady and looked like this for as long as 21-year-old Em can remember.

By now someone called Trace, who was already good and merry, said she would try to copy the way Paul pours his Bulmers, but from what I could see she just tipped it over the bar.

Then she went to challenge Dave at pool.

There was racing on the telly and Rock the Casbah by The Clash was belting out in the background so any suggestion of a Spanish link had well and truly vanished.

Dave, in his trackie bottoms and green slippers, had another pint of Abbot at £3.35 so I decided to shift across as well and went for a pint of Greene King’s Starry Night.

It is 4.2 per cent and only costs £3.20.

Straight away it looked too cloudy to me and it might be described as passion fruit with a biscuit aftertaste but it felt more like licking out the old metal biscuit tin.

The tradesmen in their T-shirts and shorts, who’d starting seeping in when the pub opened at noon, were enjoying a story about a one-legged bloke named Hopper.

I particularly enjoyed the laugh from the bald fellow with a beard in a red and white Adidas shirt – at times it sounded like gunfire.

This is clearly a team who all know each other well and they stay at their end of the chunky wooden bar.

I’m told they often pop in if the day is “rained off”.

The rest of the pub is as you’d expect it, a screen for the big games, three fruit machines, a wide mix of tartan, a dart board that looked to be in decent nick and an old guy with a grey mohican at the bar.

Chill Pedal, a guitar duo hammering out blasts from the past, Sixties and Seventies, are on tonight at 8.30pm if anyone’s interested.

There was only one real animal in, a nice looking beagle type.

At this point Trace sank to the floor to fuss the hound so I headed for the door.


Decor: ★★★☆☆

Like a set from Eldorado with added tartan

Drink: ★★☆☆☆

Switching from the Kronenbourg was a rookie error

Price: ★★★★☆

At £3.20 for a starry night, the prices are good

Atmosphere: ★★★★☆

I defy you to find a livelier pub on a Monday afternoon

Staff: ★★★★☆

As a wannabe paramedic she’s a great barmaid