It was bloody freezing when I popped into the Unicorn on Friday night.
The friend I was meeting was sheltering in the doorway next to the boozer in St Dunstan’s Street, Canterbury, enjoying the proverbial crafty fag when I arrived.
In an age when the smoker is a pariah banished to the street or back gardens in zero temperatures, I was chuffed to have given up years before the ban on fags in pubs.
And do I not miss them. A place like the Unicorn with its low ceilings and bar crowded by drinkers would be a thick grey fugue.
That could mean missing all the wall pieces and pictures which lend it the air of tradition. There’s enough hanging up to make the instruments needed for a brass band, my friend quipped.
We were having a working pint, discussing some plans for the future of your favourite Canterbury Journal, so opted for pints of low-strength Amstel lager.
But it’s for fans of real ale that the Unicorn truly provides. A winner of the Campaign for Real Ale 2014 pub of the year for the Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay area, it prides itself on the range of beers available – as the pub’s website makes clear: “We like to discover and nurture local breweries and suppliers, who we believe produce some of the best beer in the country.”
Beers made by Shepherd Neame, Gadd’s, Sharp’s which produces Doom Bar, Hopdaemon, Surrey Hills, Pig and Porter and Canterbury Ales all feature regularly feature.
The pub was busy, but not excessively on Friday with its usual stock of regulars at the bar, people enjoying an after work pint and students perhaps taking a break from trendy city centre bars.
As I got up to get our second round, I suddenly found the bar totally crowded and worried about being served.
My concern was dealt with when a trio of men suddenly departed for a fag out the back and there was a parting of the waves.
Wow, looks like just I’ve discovered benefit to the smoking ban…