Anyone reading much of this website will know of my Hibernian FC affiliations. This does not necessarily reach out to the game of football as a whole, perhaps surprisingly. Indeed my favourite sport is hockey, the version played on ice that is.
I guess I come from a fairly rare perspective. I got absolutely tired out with football a long time ago due to too much of it. One might add here that of all the TV coverage on offer over the past few years it’s not compulsory to watch it all. At the same time football becomes almost unavoidable in the UK media at times. One cannot switch on the TV or radio or pick up a newspaper without being confronted with it. Even the news stands around the city I live in invariably have a football ‘headline’ on them during the afternoon and evening. ‘Forest pledge to play football’ or ‘Notts – we must do better’ type of non-news.
Franck Sauzee: ‘Le God’
I came back to the game only with an interest in Hibs solely. That interest was re-ignited by one man – former French international, Franck Sauzee. I was on one of my numerous visits back to the Capital and popped down to Easter Road on a Saturday afternoon to be utterly amazed by the man’s brilliance. I was staggered at his imperious display playing as a sweeper for the Green Jerseys and the flame was ignited once more.
To the topic though. I just don’t care about watching English football or any other football much really. I just don’t ‘feel it’ and can easily ignore it. Maybe that’s something to do with my reservations about ‘hyped up’ things. I seem to have a natural anathema against people telling me how wonderful something is – I need to find out for myself. Personally for me I’d rather watch one live Hibs game than a whole season of other televised football – even the great names of the beautiful game. I don’t expect many others feel the same way though.
Amongst my own – Hibernian FC at Hampden
I find people’s attitudes a little strange on this sometimes (as I am sure they do mine too). On FA Cup Final day recently my partner and I called at a The Fox and Hounds in a Nottinghamshire village nearby. In an otherwise quiet pub with a few families in the yard and idyllic gardens, in the bar was much shouting and ‘yawping’ going on plus lots of bellowed ‘oohs’ and ‘aah’s” as giants Chelsea and Everton slugged it out on the small screen.
Even for a big-time game like that I can’t understand the rabid passion for something that has nothing to do with you. The guys, if anything would probably have been Forest/Mansfield supporters (maybe that’s the reason! Sorry Stags and Reds fans!)
When Hibs are playing I can get genuinely excited. I’m out there kicking the ball with them in my mind, probably like many others. I feel passionate about my club. I grew up with them and stayed with them through everything. The mean something to me. How can latching on to a behemoth like Chelsea compare with that true, honest and genuine feeling and passion for your own club? The truth is I don’t think it can…and I believe much of that stuff, that supposed ‘support’ is artificial.
A few miles north of the city of Nottingham deep in Robin Hood Country lies the village of Blidworth, a former mining area and celebrated as reputedly owning the burial place of one Will Scarlett. Debate will no doubt always surround the legendary outlaw but what isn’t in doubt is the enviable geographical position of the slightly comically named Blidworth Bottoms nearby which houses the attractive Fox and Hounds pub.
As one might imagine, Blidworth Bottoms nestles at the foot of a steep hill from Blidworth up above. A farm or two, a few private homes and the public house comprise much of what this little niche of Nottinghamshire has to offer – and that is just the very appeal of it.
Just south of the Fox and Hounds lies Blidworth Woods, a beautiful, undulating woodland with waymarked trails for those keen on taking the air in pleasant surroundings. Over the past few years more than a whiff of scandal has been attached to Blidworth Woods due to it being a notorious meeting place for those of a, shall we say more adventurous sexual appetite. An increased police presence has partly altered this state of affairs, locals state. I don’t particularly want to dwell on this issue too much apart from to say that running and walking in those woods is something I have done for many a year and that I hope others are afforded the opportunity to do that unhindered and without embarrassment too.
The Fox and Hounds is a white-painted former farm house that sits very cosily at the foot of a hill and directly opposite a junction of a partly single-track tree-shrouded country lane. It is a charming drive through the woods from the direction of the old Victorian Papplewick Pumping Station. Although being situated a few miles north of the large Nottinghamshire suburb of Arnold, it still remains only ten minutes drive away. The origins of the building go back as far as the early Nineteenth century though the exact date it became a public house is unknown. The interior of the pub has some interesting paintings and photographs around the walls which date it back as a pub to at least 1910.
Perhaps the first thing that one notes when entering the Fox and Hounds is the compact cosiness of the pub. It retains the warmth and welcome of a nice old country drinking place and immediately feels welcoming. That feeling is certainly exacerbated by the pleasant and very friendly staff who offer a genuinely warm welcome and polite and attentive service. Likewise the whole pub has a friendly ambiance due to a nice mixture of friendly locals and visitors from further afield alike. The interior has a wrap-around lounge and eating area to the right-hand side of the pub and small public bar to the left. In comparatively recent times an outside deck has been built on the left-hand side which offers a pleasant view over the rolling fields
I first visited the Fox and Hounds some thirty years ago. I liked it then though the pub – like many others was quite different in appearance in those days with smaller rooms and the accent being on drinking rather eating as was the order of the day. It was a perennial favourite of mums and dads with it’s swingpark outside – the archetypal place where kids could be brought, given a bottle of lemonade and packet of crisps and left to play whilst mum and dad got on with the job of relaxing for an hour or two on a warm, balmy Sunday evening.
Times and tastes change of course but happily the Fox and Hounds has moved forward with a respect to the old pub as it was and is very much unspoilt. it is still a treat to visit there. In these pieces about pubs I tend to steer away from reviewing drinks, menus and meals as there are many sites that deal with those things primarily. I will offer an important point though as it’s usually to eat when I visit, that the food is home cooked on the premises – a claim that cannot be made by too many pubs these days. I never fail to enjoy my meals there which are offered up in very ample servings. To be recommended. At the same this is not a pub that discourages drinkers to the inclusion of diners. One feels perfectly at ease just taking a pint or two in there.
So there we go then, the Fox and Hounds at Blidworth Bottoms. It can be approached from either the main A60 or A614 roads or pleasantly through the woods from the direction of Ravenshead. I’ll leave you to check your road maps. I think you will be glad you did.