For those who buy The Times on a Saturday, or can penetrate its paywall, you may have read Giles Coren‘s ‘Eating Out’ column in the magazine on 4 February. The heading is “I’d heard Rutland was nice. Good hunting. Although I’m not sure what that means. Maybe lots of bears.”
In the piece, Giles Coren reveals that he and his wife are considering buying a house in Rutland, presumably just a small multi-million pound pad for the occasional weekend. The piece is a typically amusing and acerbic account of a visit to – heaven help us – a rural backwater fully 90 miles outside the great metropolis of London. Where country pubs – in this case the King’s Arms in the small village of Wing – have the temerity to be closed when Giles and Mrs Giles turns up.
Oh calamity! How could that be? Are they not expecting a hot-shot restaurant critic to descend in judgement? Er, well, no … the thing is, Giles, not many of us go out for lunch to a country pub on a Tuesday. Not in January. Funny that. And if you’d bothered to check out the pub’s website, you’d have known.
Giles Coren ended up lunching at The George in Stamford (quote “the nearest place name written in letters bigger than six-point” on the map) and at the Olive Branch in Clipsham for dinner (where the menu is “a bit 2003”).
I’m vastly relieved that both (just) met his exacting standards, but most of all I’m praying that Mr & Mrs Coren don’t buy a weekend pad in Rutland. Because on the whole, people who live here are quite nice. And the growing number of visitors who discover Rutland are pretty nice too. But from all I’ve read in print, and seen on TV, Giles Coren isn’t.