I’ve been told I should get out more. I’ve taken this to mean I should venture further afield and extend my reviewing talents to new pastures.

So it was I found myself at The Schooner in Southwick – just a few feet back off the main road with a view of Shoreham Port out of both back windows.

Next thing I knew I’d pulled up a stool at the bar alongside John and his weather-predicting mate. It was like I’d become a regular within two minutes of walking in.

At the suggestion of the weatherman I opted for the local favourite and barmaid Chloe, dressed appropriately in a stripy nautical top, poured me a perfect pint of Franklin’s Mama Knows Best.

Brewed locally, this is a no-nonsense classic with solid flavour that instantly delivers great taste – she does know best.

The attention of the three wise monkeys at the bar turned to identifying the boats out of the window. But, given we couldn’t decide whether the vessel on the move was a dredger, a fishing boat or a floating surveyor I think we should stick to identifying decent beers – boats clearly aren’t our area of expertise.

This is a proper, local pub and within ten minutes I was already delighted I’d chosen to pop in.

There are no distractions – no pool table, no darts, no fruit machine, nothing much really. It a place to meet, drink and talk.

I’d got the munchies but it seems someone, who will remain nameless (the landlady), had messed up the crisp order so I was out of luck.

Mind you, had I been in the mood for more in the food line I was assured I couldn’t go wrong. A visiting car transport driver had arrived on recommendation and sat in the window to eat his dinner. He declared the burger was, and I quote, “andsome”, and he also took great pleasure in Mama Knows Best. Although he didn’t cover himself in glory when, as he was leaving, he called Chloe “Babe” – I got the impression she wasn’t keen on this term of endearment.

I was assured by everyone the food is excellent and if they are right that last Sunday the pub did 130 covers for lunch, then I can only assume they are to be trusted.

It’s not that this is a flash pub in any way, it’s not, but it’s all about the welcome, well-kept beer, quality good-value food – all the things a great pub should be.

Next through the door was Andrea the Italian – he rejected any suggestion he should drink his home country lagers and got straight on the Franklins.

By now my new buddy John was starting on the full-blown pub history so I quickly ordered another pint. For variety, and just to check they keep their other beers as well as the Franklins, I moved to Sea Legs at 4.2 per cent, a much paler beer with plenty of citrus overtones. Obviously quite different but another very decent pint.

Anyway, it seems Greene King couldn’t make the pub pay so the current owners were brave enough to take it on and have made a real go of it. This despite a nasty fire in October 2016 which closed the pub for a good while and the kitchen for a whole year. John seemed to think it was the fault of some double-cooked gravy, either way, he added drama to the tale by saying he only escaped with half an hour to spare.

An elderly couple popped in for food at 7.45pm and Chloe had to check with the chef to see if the kitchen was still open. The Irish head chef seemed to wield great power – not surprising as I discovered he’s also the owner. He came up trumps and served them two excellent looking meals.

The final man through the door who I met was Keith, who had a pint of Listers. He would have been in earlier but couldn’t drag himself away from the telly. How nice to visit a pub without the “compulsory” TV screen.

There is, however, a new monthly music club with folk, blues and beyond with poetry on every second Sunday of the month at 7.30pm.

As I sadly bid my new friends good night and made for the door the conversation turned to the “heavy” staff party the night before. It seems the boss treats his staff and takes them out. On this occasion they ended up in Revolution before being asked to leave – something to do with Alex dropping a pint and trying to dance with the broom used to clear it up…

Try the Schooner you won’t be disappointed, proper people, proper beer, proper welcoming – a great local boozer. Burgers two for one on a Wednesday.

The Schooner Inn 146 Albion Street, Southwick
BN42 4AU
Decor: Three stars 
It does what it says on the tin – not flash, but clean and tidy
Drink: Five stars
This dark, tasty brew from Franklins is an excellent drop of beer
Price: Five stars
At just £3.60 Mama definitely does know best
Atmosphere: Four stars
Exactly what a good pub should be, maybe one star away due to the previous heavy night
Staff: Four stars 
Chatty and helpful, she looks after all her customers very efficiently.
Find all my reviews on The Argus website www.theargus.co.uk/leisure/pub_spy/
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