SOMETIMES in life even PubSpy has to compromise and so it proved this week when a friend insisted it was time to venture beyond Brighton and Hove.

As a result we ended up in Lewes where the choice of watering holes is best described as extensive. But which one to choose?

The starting point was the station but before a convivial drink and lunch it was time for a walk and a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Lewes is a beautiful town with plenty on offer, including the castle and Anne of Cleves’ cottage, as well as a plethora of interesting independent shops.

It was a remarkably hot day for mid-September and having worked up a considerable thirst, we found ourselves at the foot of Station Street.

Being of a certain age, the steep incline immediately put me off progressing any further in that direction, but after much persuasion we set off.

By the time we reached the top, I was huffing and puffing and in need of a cigarette before deciding where to stop off.

Then, thank God, it transpired we were actually standing opposite a pub. Maybe it was a message from the heavens.

Well, why bother walking any further? The Royal Oak would have to do, I was too knackered to do anything more than stagger across the road and into a welcoming armchair.

PubSpy normally meticulously chooses which pub to visit beforehand, but on this occasion it was more a case of needs must.

Fortunately, first impressions were promising. The Royal Oak is open and spacious and the lone barmaid on duty could not have been more welcoming.

Having discovered that I am a million miles removed from Usain Bolt in terms of fitness, I decided to lay off the beer and opted for a large glass of the La Croix Rose (£6.15) which was deliciously crisp (naturally I had a second after lunch) while my companion opted for a Coke with ice and lemon instead of the usual cider.

The lunch menu was relatively limited but included several tasty options (including vegetarian). However, neither of us could resist the ham, egg and chips (£21 for two) which turned out to be an excellent choice and certainly matched expectations.

Access to the pub is straightforward with just a small step at the entrance although it might prove a bit tricky for wheelchair users.

The Royal Oak also clearly has several regular customers, even at lunchtimes, with all of them being greeted by their first names and welcomed like long-lost friends.

The choice of drinks was impressive with the usual array of beer, wine and spirits and it is always nice to visit a pub where the tables and chairs are well spaced so you don’t have to listen to those at the next table bleating on about Brexit or the complexities of their relationships.

If you want to enjoy conversation in a convivial atmosphere without distraction from televisions or other customers then the Royal Oak certainly fits the bill, although an array of forthcoming evening events were advertised outside, suggesting that it is a popular destination for entertainment too.

I’m also pleased to report that, for the second week running, the toilets were clean (I was informed the ladies was too) which is always a plus.

Having been well fed and watered, it was time to head back out into the sunshine and it was, quite literally, downhill from there as we walked back down Station Street. I almost had a spring in my step.

Visiting the pub was a happy accident as I had never heard of it before. But the town of Lewes certainly struck a chord and when I return, a visit to the Royal Oak will most certainly be on the cards. Traditional it may be, but that is a good thing in my book.


Decor: **** 
Traditional but spacious, which suits me just fine.

Drink: ****
Stuck to wine this time, but for me rose must be crisp and dry and it was.

Price: ***
Six quid for a large glass of wine seems a bit excessive, but that is the norm these days. 

Atmosphere: ***
Once again it was lunchtime on a weekday, but the regulars were lined up at the bar. 

Staff: ***** 
One barmaid on duty and the service was great.