It’s day four of my boating holiday in the Norfolk Broads (in mid-February, yes, I know we’re idiots). Last night we sampled the delights of Great Yarmouth’s nightlife, so naturally I have a mighty thirst on and my boatmates are struggling to hold down their breakfasts. Tired, grumpy, and thoroughly hungover, I leave the gang where they’re moored up in The Weir and set out for somewhere to quench my thirst.
After a mile and a half walking through fields and along beautiful, quiet country lanes, I find myself outside a pink and yellow pub in South Walsham: The Ship. The sign outside proudly boasts of their appearance in the latest Good Beer Guide, so I have high hopes going in.
Inside, I’m hit with a wall of heat. Now I realise I’ve spent half a week freezing off my proverbials on an ill-advised winter holiday, but this place is so warm and welcoming I even consider removing three of my four layers of thermals. That warmth is only matched by the welcome I received going in, as the friendly barman introduced me to the beers on offer and showed me around.
The Ship has one regular and one rotating guest beer – two in summer. I asked the chap behind the bar how often the beers changed and he pointed at the beams above covered in dozens of beer pump clips: “Those are all the beers we’ve had in the last six months.” The guest changes as soon as the barrel runs dry, so even the regulars will never get bored. It requires serious dedication from the landlord to go out and source so many new brews on such a frequent basis. I am genuinely impressed.
After some gentle nudging and a couple of photographs, I convince my boatmates to join me. They immediately gather around the strange, baize contraption in the corner: it turns out they’ve never seen a bar billiards table before. The barman gladly shows us how to play, offering encouragement to counter our own self-mockery, and before long we’re racking up the points. Well, some of us were. I was shit, but it was fun to play all the same.
I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about this pub. We arrived too late for lunch, but the barman offered to head back to the kitchen anyway and fry us some fish and chips if we wanted. There were only two ales on offer as it’s still winter, but they’re both well-kept and tasted great, so that’s not really a problem. The barman even told us why our anglers hadn’t caught any pike all week and told us the right kind of lures and bait to use.
Honestly, my only complaint about The Ship is that we didn’t discover it earlier in our trip. We’ll be sure to return next year. 5/5
You can find the Ship on Twitter as @theshipinnsw, on Facebook as @shippinnsw, and online at http://www.lucasinns.co.uk