If you’re from around these parts you will most definitely have heard of the Bat & Ball in Hambledon (or Clanfield) and more than likely have been there at some time in your life. The pub has a strong link to cricket which you can read about here.
Two years ago Geoff and I visited for Sunday lunch. It was not good. I tore up the review I was writing, I couldn’t use it. I emailed them to voice my concerns and ask what on earth had happened? A temporary manager responded saying a new manager would be taking over at the end of the month.
Geoff and I were recently looking at country pubs on a well known review website – not this one 😉 – for somewhere to eat on a Friday lunchtime. We were surprised and pleased that the Bat & Ball seemed to have turned a corner being number 1 out of 60 pubs in the Waterlooville area ( and still is). We booked a table online for 1pm in the bar area.
Outside the Bat & Ball had several very large and beautiful hanging baskets full of cascading begonias – up yours Monty Don ? ( he said begonias were ugly). There’s a large car park and when we arrived there were only a few spaces left, which is always a good sign. We were greeted by a friendly waitress, ordered a drink and shown to our table in the Nyren Room – more info here if you’re interested in the history. Spookily we were seated at the exact same table as two years ago.
On the floor is a line and written in metal studs ‘Hambledon’ on one side and ‘Clanfield’ on the other.
Friday is half price fish & chips day, yay! I was already going out for a meal that evening with a friend to the Victoria Inn in West Marden so I didn’t really want anything too filling but as the fish & chips were so cheap I thought if I didn’t eat it all it wouldn’t matter.
I did eat it all. Whoops. But it was so nice! I don’t normally order F&C’s, it’s usually Geoff’s type of dish. The fish was enormous and we both said at the same time – it happens when you’ve been married for 30 years, believe me – “it’s more like a shark”!
The Frontier beer battered cod was lovely. The batter was crisp and so fresh, however I only ate half the batter as the other side had the skin on and I don’t like that. The chips were really very good too. A big thumbs up ? from Geoff too who repeated what he’d said about The White Hart at South Harting’s fish & chips ‘on the right side of average’, plus, ‘the bigger the batter, not the better’. God only know’s what that means.
Geoffrey is wise and listened to his stomach and so declined a dessert but I take no notice of mine and went ahead and ordered an Eton mess. Actually, we shared it, which is a shame as it was the best I’d tasted for a while. It was your classic Eton mess, thick whipped cream, halved strawberries, strawberry juice/syrup and pieces of broken meringue.
The manager, Paul had earlier on said ‘Good afternoon’ to us and it was he who came to our table with the dessert and said he recognised me, but from where? I knew as both his sons were in my children’s classes at school. Small world huh?
Had it been a dry sunny day we could have sat outside where there’s plenty of seating and lovely views across the fields.
Well done Paul, you’ve turned the pub around and made it somewhere worth visiting for food and drink. We wouldn’t hesitate in returning.
Living life, loving cake