Spending the morning replying to tweets about Black Country pub cobs was making this wench yearn for some bostin fittle, so I sent a carrier pigeon to my best people (wench #2 and chap) inviting them to join me for some fine dining, yam-yam style.
Now I’m not suggesting that wench #2 and chap spend quite a bit of their time propping up the bar, but as I watch the pigeon flutter it’s wings from Wollaston to Stourbridge, I’m confident of a positive response. Indeed the pigeon brings back ‘What time you thinking?’.
I pick them up in the trusty chariot, but then we have our usual problem. We can’t decide where to go. So many pubs, so little time. We have the chariot and the entire Black Country lies before us. A rich tapestry of welcoming hostelries, beer and cobs. Wench #2 shouts out a few suggestions. All are familiar, comforting and close by. However, one stands out. We’ve driven past it numerous times, but never graced it with our presence. The Why Not Inn in Halesowen. Why not?
It takes us no time to get there (or so we think) and as we approach we spy a sign for the pub at the side of the road. ‘Turn right here’ shouts #wench 2, so I do (chap and I always do what #wench 2 says). Suddenly we’re in the country and civilisation is fast disappearing from the rear view mirror. We pass a man pushing his bike and some unfortunate fly tipping. Sensing we’ve took a wrong turn, I mouth to the cyclist who’s kindly paused for us ‘I think we’ll be back this way in a minute bab’.
So turn back we do and eventually – after another wrong turn – we find The Why Not Inn, up Whynot Street. Funny that.
Up this pretty little street lies the pub and facing it, Brewus Cottage. A sign on the gate gives a bit of history. The only remaining original buildings in the street are The Why Not Inn, and numbers 2 and 3 Whynot Street. Brewus cottage, being the only remaining cottage in Whynot Street is named after the brewhouse (Brewus) which is where the washing was done. It was shared by two neighbours who each had their respective washing days. It also contained the baking oven where many women baked the family bread. There’s more about the history of the pub on their website.
As soon as we enter The Why Not Inn I fall in love. A comfortable room that’s no messing. A pub that’s itself and not trying to be anything else.
While wench #2 and chap order some Golden Glow (Holdens), I make myself comfortable in an appropriately named corner.
There’s five other customers in this friendly inn, and as the conversation flows back and forth, from table to table and bar to table, it’s clear that everyone here is a serious regular. Topics of conversation range from weddings to medical ailments, not surprising as there’s a wedding reception being set up in the back room (lots of balloon inflating) and a couple of walking sticks propped up against the wall.
Needing fittle we decide to eat in the bar where you don’t even need to move to see the menu sat atop. We decide to opt for the chalk board specials and spend several minutes debating the options. It’s a hard choice but we finally plump for liver and onions (wench #2 and chap), and cheese and potato pie (wench).
It’s clear that this lovely pub is a really friendly place and the general atmosphere is really warm.
At this point I’m determined to try a pudding too. The Glow is going down nicely and we excitedly await this homemade fittle.
Some regulars leave and other join, and the table behind us becomes full with gentlemen of mature years watching the racing.
The Why Not Inn reminds me of those lovely traditional Black Country pubs that I’d have been taken to as a babby wench and I love it for this. For not changing. For not being anything other than what it is.
I particularly get excited when I spy the separate restaurant at the rear with the dessert fridge!
We get into a conversation with a wench and her father, who’s dressed in a dapper suit. She proudly tells us he’s 82. He doesn’t look it. We converse about the bostin fittle and she recommends everything on the menu, although today ‘we am having a liquid lunch’ she says as they open their second bottle of rose wine.
He makes her laugh a lot which makes her snort a lot and its really rather endearing. Father and daughter out for their liquid lunch, him in his Saturday suit.
And then – carried carefully in the cook’s fair hands as if it were a precious babby – our fittle arrives.
It only takes a couple of mouthfuls for us to realise we’ve stumbled on a gem. I let #wench 2 and chap dig their forks into my cheese and potato pie, made from some of the smoothest mash I’ve tasted. I want to run into the kitchen and beg the cook to tell me her secret. Maybe she’s a Black Country witch.
It’s also the hottest cheese and potato pie I’ve tasted and in my eagerness to devour it I almost burn my tongue. Bloody bostin fittle.
All thoughts of pudding leave us. We just can’t do it. We start to make plans to work our way through the menu. We know we will be back….and soon.
As we go to leave, the wedding party arrives and all that balloon blowing-up gets to shine. Our new friends – the wench and her father shout a hearty farewell.
Outside we admire the hanging baskets and the pub in all its glory. There’s a lovely little beer garden to the side too, small but perfectly formed and with flowers everywhere.
And the flowers continue down the outside fence with giant sunflowers, including black ones! I’d like some tips from the gardener.
As we walk back to the chariot we all agree that The Why Not Inn has become a firm favourite. That fittle!
It only remains for #wench 2 and chap to point out some rather retro refuse in the kerb, a tangled bunch of cassette tape.
Like The Why Not Inn, a reminder of a simpler time.